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Conundrum Hot Springs Professional Review and Guide
"Undeveloped alpine pools, a 9-mile hike from parking and 11,200 feet above sea level in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area near Aspen. Clothing optional. White River National Forest and Maroon Bells– Snowmass Wilderness Area regulations apply."
--Susan Joy Paul, Touring Colorado Hot Springs (Falcon Guides).
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.
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.
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. :)
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.
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