Conundrum Hot Springs

OutAndBack • 18 mi • 3000 ft

A secluded collection of pools in a beautiful wilderness location. Essentially undeveloped, wilderness location. Conundrum is one of Colorado’s most exquisite settings, and if you pick your time carefully, your visit there can be an outstanding, secluded experience. The pools vary in size and temperature, but the larger pools average about 102 degrees F, depending on the season. Some small pools are fed by a length of plastic pipe from higher sources, and they are cooler. The pools are craters of rock hewn into their present shape over years of visitation, and they make for great soaking. The larger pools are more than 3 feet deep and have room for several people, if need be. No matter which pool you fancy or which direction you face, you will have superb views of the surrounding rocky spires and alpine terrain. Steep avalanche chutes and pockets of snow that almost never leave, waterfalls, and the bright greens and flowers of short-life-span plants are all around you. If you feel that you are on top of the world, its because you nearly are, at nearly 12,000 feet in elevation. Look down the long valley you have just ascended and marvel at the clear view and the expanse of beauty while you soak in your little hot pot high in the wilderness. It’s the same view that early miners and native Indians savored for generations. If you stay for the night and are blessed with clear skies, you may be dazzled by the sight of more stars than you ever thought existed, seemingly so close you can reach out and take one to guide your way back to the tent. You might ask yourself if life could get any better. Savor the pure pleasure of clear, high mountain air and the tingle in your toes that says you have earned this view and the soothing warmth of water nearly perfect in temperature.
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Activity Type: Hot Springs
Nearby City: Aspen
Length: 18 total miles
Elevation Gain: 3,000 feet
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Water Temp: Moderate and variable from about 100 to 105 F.
Season: Summer and early fall
Trailhead Elevation: 9,000 feet
Local Contacts: Maroon Bells - Snowmass Wilderness
Local Maps: USGS Maroon Bells, Hayden Peak; White River National Forest; San Isabel National Forest; Gunnison National Forest
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7/13/2011

Just made it home from a great two day trip. The hot springs are warm and clean. The locals are well lets just say they were friendly. This was a very fair trail and probably the easiest 3000ft elevation gain I have ever made. The wildflowers are in full bloom and the Columbines are everywhere. The water crossings are all easy with good foot bridges in place. Except the last one at about 6.5 miles in! There is no foot bridge and the beavers have made the trail a marshy mess. Be prepared to wade at least to your knees at this crossing. For a short 2 day trip this trail had all of the elements of a great backpacking wilderness experience.

10/5/2009

My girlfriend and I did this hike as a day trip- we moved swiftly and it took us about 3h 15min each way. The trail is in great condition, the views are fantastic, and the springs were clean. We passed three parties hiking out that camped Sunday night; all said it was a cold, snowy night. There was about 3-4 inches of fresh snow in the last 3 miles. We had the springs to ourselves and the temp was fantastic. I have done this hike as an overnighter last June and I have to say that the day hike was much more enjoyable. Although it is a long day of hiking, there is plenty of time to soak and relax at the springs if you chose to do this as a day hike. There is one addition I would make to the trail description. As you approach the 2nd bridge, the trail forks- the left fork takes you immediately to the bridge and the right fork is a well established trail that eventually ends. I made the mistake taking the right fork, which made a long day of backpacking even longer.

8/15/2009

One of my first long and high hikes. And while I surprised my experienced friends with my strength/stamina/speed, it was definitely a long and strenuous hike. Admittedly, I was also carrying the heaviest pack. Lol. It was all so very worth it, though. Miles and miles of beautiful Colorado scenery... from wildflower fields to breathtaking talus fields. Stream crossings, quiet wind-whispering forests, and gorgeous valley views! All of it capped with one of the best rewards you can ever ask for after an all-day hike up 4,000+ feet and 8+ miles... a natural hot spring! :) Sitting in that 110+ degree water and sipping espresso-flavored vodka as the darkness took over the sky and allowed the seemingly countless stars come into view.... :sigh:... I'll take that memory with me forever. :)

6/6/2008

EPIC Snow this year has left the last 2 miles of this trail covered by 4'-6'. If you are planning this trail I would delay for a couple of weeks. I just spent alot of money and did not get to make the springs. If you can not delay your trip take snow shoes and start early in the morning while the snow is still hard enough to walk on. Overall this is one of the most awsome displays of nature that Ive ever had the pleasure of taking in. The lower part of the trail looks like something out of Backpacker Magazine.

7/15/2007

My husband and I did this hike as an overnight backpack on July 4, 2007. We passed about 15 people leaving on our way in, so it was not very crowded at the springs. The trail is well marked with a good surface most of the way. The views are stunning the entire trail - we went through fields of knee-high columbine and Indian paintbrush that were a variety of colors. There was snow on the peaks and quaking aspen. The campground is nice - large and private sites. There are lots of opportunities to filter waterat camp and on the way there, so you don't have to carry a lot. Overall, a wonderful hike with a great reward at the end.

8/7/2006

wonderful hike. We spent one night at the hotsprings so managed this hike in two days. Doing this hike in one day would be incredibly long and you wouldn't be able to take advantage of the hotsprings...we soaked at night and the next morning. Hotsprings were relatively crowded - 20 people, at times, on a tuesday night. Views are gorgeous and is well worth the 18 mile hike.

10/13/2005

An amazing hike with an amazing reward at the end. if posible dont go on the weekends. on sat night there were over 30 people camping at the springs. it was close in the big tub.

8/29/2005

A wonderful but well used trail. The hike its self is not very difficult so you can take in the scenery but the elevation definitely takes its toll. You could absolutely do this as a day hike but you would miss the wonderful campsites and millions of stars as you soak the night away. People seem to be taking better care of the springs in the past few years and when I was up on a Monday night I shared the spring with only two other people.

8/22/2005

Hike was very straightforward. It was raining and at times hailing the day we went but the Hot Springs were great. The campsites around the Springs were clean and nice as well, though overall this is probably a better day trip than overnight. Definately worth trying, but check the weather report.

8/18/2005

Great trip! The hike in was long and tough so pack light if you plan on spending the night. The Hot Spring is fantastic and well worth the trip. We went on a Thursday and it wasn't crowded but we passed several groups heading up for the weekend. Campsites closest to the Springs are no fire but lower down (quarter mile) are sites with rock fire rings. Firewood is scarce.

10/11/2002

Long but fairly easy hike but the awesome hotsprings make it all worth it. Being able to sit in the bone soothing pools and share experiences with other hikers and campers makes you forget about the sore feet and bones. The setting of the location is breathtaking with the mountains jutting up all around you. Then to be sitting in the pools at night and see the moon peek over the mountains and light up the whole valley. Worth going back over and over.

10/15/2001

I hiked in from the Crested Butte side, over the pass, making it about 10 miles. A serious hike but gorgeous scenery all the way, especially a tundra-like basin just below the pass. We had the place to ourselves (mid-week in the fall), and it simply doesn't get much better than this. A light dusting of snow overnight made it even more beautiful. Crested Butte folks say it gets crowded in summer (they blame all the trust-fund hippies from Aspen) and the Forest Service occasionally puts in camping restrictions.

12/25/2000

SUPER DUPER REMARKABLE TRAIL! EXCELLENT FOR HIPPIES TO EXTREME! We saw lots of animals, trees, and it was just all around beautiful.

7/18/2000

An absolutely horrible hike for fools and machocists. The nine miles in are terrible, and the nine out are even worse. The springs are over-run by FAR too many people searching for a weekend get-away. I packed out more trash from Conundrum than just about any other trail I've hiked. I think my pack was HEAVIER on the way out due to all the CRAP I picked up. Stay away unless you REALLY like sharing your peaceful mountain experience with sixteen other people and more than one stupid dog.

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