Hay Park Trail, Hay Park Trailhead, Aspen - Snowmass, Colorado
Hay Park Trail - 14.9 miles
Hay Park Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||14.9 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||8,482' - 9,370' (9,715' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+888' net elevation gain (+2,910' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Hay Park Trail - 14.9 Miles Round-Trip
The Hay Park Trail runs 7.45 miles from Capitol Creek Road west of Old Snowmass to the Thomas Lakes Trail above Carbondale. This long but moderate trail passes through aspen-covered slopes cut by several creeks and high meadows with great views from Capitol Peak to Mount Sopris.
Hay Park includes 9980 acres of valuable mid-elevation habitat that's part of the Hay Park Wilderness Addition Proposal to the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area, an initiative that envisages a road-less 200,000+ acre block in the Roaring Fork Valley.
The Hay Park Trail is ideal for running, biking and equestrians, with miles of contiguous aspen that make it a great autumn choice. This corridor supports abundant wildlife and is open to hunting (public lands only). Be mindful of hunting seasons and wear bright colors during these periods.
There are several unmarked splits off the Hay Park Trail that can easily be confused for the main trail. Carry a good map and have a general understanding of your route before heading out. Respect private property lines and remain on designated trails.
Note that distance and elevation gain figures will vary between sources depending on which trailhead you start at - Hay Park or Thomas Lakes - and where the source determines the trail to officially begin and end.
The following description begins at Hay Park Trailhead on Capitol Creek Road and runs north to its merge point with the Thomas Lakes Trail:
From the Hay Park BLM Lot, cross a pasture to the Backcountry Board (.23 miles) and begin a steep climb through dense aspen. Pass through a gate (.7 miles) and cross a road to regain the trail. It drops to another road at .88 miles (9,020'); turn left and split off the road (left) at 1.1 miles.
It narrows back on singletrack, dips across a small stream and rises through tightly-lined aspen (1.5 miles : 9,140'). Enjoy a brief opening at 1.75 miles to a fork that splits right (1.9 miles : 9,245').
You'll exit the Capitol Creek Land Co Private Property Boundary at 2.0 miles and hop consecutive creeks at 2.2 miles (9,175'). Travel is fast and nondescript through greater concentrations of fir to East Sopris Creek (2.8 miles : 9,205'), past which mature aspen take over with good viewing lanes.
The trail undulates to a subtle fork at 3.35 miles; keep right and curl steeply down into a shallow gulch and cross another stream (3.38 miles : 9,185'). It rises out and moderates across high clearings in a park-like setting with terrific mountain views (3.65 - 4.15 miles : 9,345').
The trail drops to a small pond and fork with no signage (4.25 miles : 9,305') - the following description continues up the left fork on the far, upper slope of the pond:
The left fork steepens out of the forest and passes through a fence into big open space (4.8 miles : 9,645'). Travel moderates across high, expansive meadows to a second fence at the trail's highest point (5.2 miles : 9,710').
This is a great place to see elk with panoramas that include Capitol Peak and Mount Sopris. It's also a sensible turnaround point, as travel is more business-like to the terminus.
The trail dips into a stream-crossed meadow and funnels onto a service road that drops sharply to West Sorpis Creek (6.25 miles : 9,540'). It crosses and moderates in mixed timber that breaks across open slopes to the Thomas Lakes Trail split (7.45 miles : 9,370'). It continues down as the Thomas Lakes Trail for 1.7 miles to the Thomas Lakes Trailhead on Dinkle Lake Road outside Carbondale.
- N39 14.888 W107 03.326 — 0.0 miles : Hay Park Trailhead
- N39 14.924 W107 03.564 — .23 miles : Backcountry board - trail steepens
- N39 14.877 W107 04.037 — .7 miles : Pass thru private property gate and cross road
- N39 14.739 W107 04.373 — 1.1 miles : Merge from road back onto singletrack
- N39 14.771 W107 04.714 — 1.5 miles : Dip across stream and level on singeltrack
- N39 14.735 W107 05.108 — 1.9 miles : Trail forks, keep right
- N39 14.701 W107 05.380 — 2.2 miles : Cross creek
- N39 14.888 W107 05.526 — 2.5 miles : Steady travel through aspen forest
- N39 14.946 W107 05.786 — 2.8 miles : Cross East Sopris Creek
- N39 15.061 W107 05.913 — 3.0 miles : Rolling travel through aspen stands
- N39 15.302 W107 06.019 — 3.38 miles : Drop into gulch and cross creek
- N39 15.394 W107 06.087 — 3.5 miles : Rise into elevated meadows with views
- N39 15.744 W107 05.918 — 4.0 miles : Roll through open space with views
- N39 15.908 W107 05.881 — 4.25 miles : Drop to edge of pond - trail forks
- N39 16.066 W107 06.152 — 4.45 miles : Grade steepens out of boggy forest
- N39 16.287 W107 06.145 — 4.8 miles : Pass thru fence, enter large elevated meadows
- The Hay Park Trail corridor is open to hunting (designated public lands only). Be mindful of hunting seasons and wear bright colors during these periods.
- There are several unmarked trail splits off the Hay Park Trail that can easily be confused for the main trail. Carry a good map and have a general understanding of your route before heading out.
- The Hay Park Trail can be very muddy. Mountain bikes should avoid this trail after heavy rains and during peak melt out.
- There are many aging aspen along this trail susceptible to blow-downs. Stay alert, especially on windy days.
Camping and Backpacking Information
- Dispersed backcountry camping is permitted on Public Lands along the Hay Park Trail (BLM - White River National Forest), and within the Maroon Bells - Snowmass Wilderness. No permits or fees are required on these BLM-NF Lands.
- Camping is prohibited within 100' of any lake or stream. Group size is limited to 10 individuals (or 15 with people + stock).
- Campfires are permitted in the White River NF and Maroon Bells - Snowmass Wilderness, with potential seasonal and location-specific restrictions. Campfires are not permitted above or within .25 miles (440 yards) of treeline, or within 100' of any lake or stream.
- Self-registration permits are available at each trailhead and/or Wilderness Boundary for the Maroon Bells - Snowmass Wilderness. There is no fee or limit to the number of permits issued. Backpackers must carry a completed registration form with them for the duration of the trip.
- Contact the Aspen Ranger District (970.925.3445) or Sopris Ranger District (970.963.2266) for the latest weather, trail conditions and trail-specific guidelines when planning your trip.
- Fishing is permitted on Public Lands along the Hay Park Trail with a valid Colorado fishing license.
Rules and Regulations
- Respect private property lines and remain on designated trails through these clearly marked boundaries. Hunting is strictly prohibited on private lands bordering the Hay Park Trail.
Directions to Trailhead
The Hay Park Trailhead is located 7.8 miles west of Highway 82 on Capitol Creek Road.
From Highway 82, turn west on Watson Divide Road in Old Snowmass (at the Conoco Gas Station and Snowmass Ranch Liquor Store).
Travel 1.7 miles to the Snowmass Creek - Capitol Creek Road split and turn right on Capitol Creek. Remain on Capitol Creek Road for 6.1 miles to Hay Park Trailhead, located on the right. The lot is large and can accommodate horse trailers.
The turn off from Highway 82 is approximately 14 miles west of Aspen and 8.2 miles west of Bush Creek Road in Snowmass Village. Note Capitol Creek Road turns to dirt after 4.7 miles. 4WD is not needed, but the road can be muddy and potholed after rain.
Pitkin County Open Space and Trails
530 East Main Street, 3rd Floor
Aspen, CO 81611
Maroon Bells - Snowmass Wilderness | Aspen Ranger District
806 West Hallam
Aspen, CO 81611
Maroon Bells - Snowmass Wilderness | Sopris Ranger District
620 Main Street
Carbondale, CO 81623
White River National Forest
900 Grand Ave.
P.O. Box 948
Glenwood Springs CO 81602
970.945.2521 | 970.319.2670