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New Meetup: Backpacking trip to Conundrum Hotsprings near Aspen!

From: Michael
Sent on: Saturday, May 15, 2010 7:29 PM
Announcing a new Meetup for Colorado Backpackers and Campers Meetup Group!

What: Backpacking trip to Conundrum hotsprings near Aspen!

When: Friday, June 25,[masked]:00 AM

conundrum hot springs
UTM: 13S[masked]E[masked]N
Aspen, CO 81611

Location: Maroon Bells Wilderness
Nearest City: Aspen Colorado
Length: 7.86 miles one-way (estimate using Nat?l Geo Mapping Software)
Time: Overnight backpack with multi-day backpack possibilities. The average person hikes apx. 2 miles an hour.

Contact Info: Aspen Ranger District, White River National Forest. [masked]

Elevation Gain/Loss: +2374'
Difficulty: Moderate
Season: Late Spring to mid Fall
Trail Users: Hikers, deer, Abert squirrels, pikas, marmots and bunnies, and of course, Dakota.
Dogs: On hand-held leash, but not at the designated campsites
Permits: Free use permit required available at trailhead

Camp in designated campsites (16 at last count) To avoid crowds consider visiting the hot springs Monday?Thursday and start early to get a prime spot

This is a primitive hot springs. Many choose not to carry a wet swimsuit 8 miles. Prepare mentally for this.

Gear: Plan on standard overnight backpacking gear. If you wish to share a tent, note that in your reservation and note if you have or need to share. If you don't have enough gear, I have some I'm willing to loan, if you carry the steaks and beer that you buy for me! Mmmm.....

Trail Description: The Conundrum Creek Trail #1981 travels up valley to Wilderness hot springs and views of the adjacent peaks. As you approach the hot springs you will begin to see a series of numbered campsites on the left side of the trail. The Forest Service requires that campers near the springs stay in one of these established sites, but there is no reservation system in place so it is first-come-first-served. There are 18 of the sites, so unless you are there during the Labor Day weekend (the busiest time of the year for Conundrum Hot Springs) you should have no difficulty finding an unoccupied site. Camping in other areas is permitted only if your site is at least a quarter-mile from the hot springs.

As you pass campsites 4a and 4b you will see an old log cabin on the right, and just beyond the cabin the trail splits. The junction is clearly marked with a sign that shows the locations of the campsites. Bear left here for the last 150 yards to the hot springs.

Conundrum Hot Springs is an exquisite place to spend an afternoon. There are four hiker-constructed pools at the springs with the largest being about 15 feet in diameter and 3 feet deep. The temperature is an ideal 100 degrees F, and the surrounding scenery is spectacular. Conundrum Peak (14,022 ft.) and Castle Peak (14,265 ft.) soar high above the east side of the creek, and to the north Conundrum Valley seems to stretch on forever. You are unlikely to find solitude at the springs, but for me that is not a distraction. An evening spent relaxing in the hot water talking to fellow hikers about the wonders of Colorado?s mountains can be very pleasant indeed.


Wilderness hot springs (1 main pool and a small 4 seater) at the trails end. 98 -102?F
Beautiful wildflowers July through August
Cabin ruins near the hot springs
Vestiges of the mining era
Undulating meadows
Beaver ponds
Malachite mineral deposits
Hot Springs are completely surrounded by 13ers and 14ers
Silver Dollar Pond Bridge crossings

Carpooling: We will meet in Denver at my house (halfway between Cherry Creek Mall and Lowry, near 6th and Colorado) at 8am Saturday morning. Two days prior to the event, I will send my address to those who confirm. I'll send a reminder confirmation email the weekend prior.

We leave at 9am, as this should give us enough time to figure out who is riding with how, and get the cars loaded. For those leaving their cars behind, there is a church parking lot at the end of my block in a nice neighborhood. It's much safer than leaving your car in a park-n-ride.

We'll carpool from here, and we will plan on three people plus any dogs per car. Please offer to drive if you can, and remember that we are sharing expenses, so you'll need to split gas costs with the driver. Drivers should have adequate insurance coverage to cover any injuries from accidents. I recently was forced off the road by a hit and run driver, and have discovered that you have to go to your own medical coverage, which most people never change from the minimum $5000 per person coverage. It doesn't go far. Keep this in mind when you offer to drive. When splitting costs, riders should remember that this is a cost to the driver as well, in addition to gas.

The Drive:

Leaving Denver, we will go up Quebec and hop on I-70 west.
I-70 west to Glenwood Springs
Left (south) on CO Highway 82. Follow CO Highway 82 to the west end of Aspen to the roundabout.
Turn left (south) on Castle Creek Road (FR 102). Follow it for 5 miles
Turn right on Conundrum Creek Road. Drive 1.1 miles on this gravel trunk
route to reach the trailhead.

The trailhead can accommodate apx. 40 cars.

Learn more here:

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