The hike starts at 9,580-feet at the Maroon Lake trailhead, and climbs 3,000 feet over 6.5 miles to West Maroon Pass before descending another 4.5 to Schofield Pass. The first 1.8 miles to Crater Lake climbs through giant aspen groves. Because this part of the wilderness area provides access points to many of the surrounding 14ers and different trails, like Buckskin Pass, it can be very crowded.
Once past Crater Lake, however, crowds dissipate and the long yet moderate climb up West Maroon Creek is stunning. The trail meanders along the creek before popping into high alpine tundra above the tree-line. West Maroon Pass is known for some of the most breathtaking and colorful wildflowers in the area, especially from mid-July into August. The last mile to the pass is a set of steep switchbacks, but the view at the top is the reward. Try to get here before noon to enjoy lunch with a view, and to avoid afternoon thunderstorms.
The next 4.5 miles weave down into a wide open valley that looks more like the Swiss Alps than Colorado backcountry. About 1 mile from the pass, the trail intersects with Frigid Air Pass. Continue straight, as Frigid Air will continue along the Four Pass Loop. Another mile below that, it intersects again with Hasley Basin. Stay right on the trail and follow this as it meanders through the valley. Eventually it will pass an old cabin and shortly after, the trail will spit you out at Schofield Pass. For now, you will need to turn left and hike 2 miles while the remnants of the avalanche melt on Gothic Road (see note above). Later in the season, your shuttle can pick you up at the trailhead.