Midway Pass, Lost Man Trailhead, Aspen - Snowmass, Colorado
Midway Pass - 8.0 miles
Lost Man Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||8.0 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||10,545' - 11,841' (12,112' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+1,296' net elevation (+1,778' total roundtrip elevation)|
Midway Pass - 8.0 Miles Round-Trip
Midway Creek Trail runs miles 8.7 miles from Lost Man Trailhead on Highway 82 to Hunter Flats in the Hunter - Fryingpan Wilderness. Midway Pass (11,841') is located 4 miles from the trailhead between Coleman Creek drainage (south) and Midway Creek drainage (north).
Midway Pass is a compelling and lightly used alternative to the Lost Man Loop, which leaves from the same trailhead and accesses Lost Man Lake and Independence Lake. The pass-approach features expansive alpine meadows with panoramic views across the Maroon Bells, Collegiate Peaks and Hunter-Fryingpan wilderness areas.
There are several accessible summits off the main trail, and these big open spaces are particularly good for seeing elk and mountain goats.
Note Midway Pass is not the highest point on the trail, and the divide it spans is fairly subtle. Additionally, some maps imply the distance is ~3.1 miles vs. 4.0 miles. This could be attributed to the highest point on the trail, not the actual point where drainages divide:
Follow signs left from the trailhead for Lost Man and Midway Creek. The trail arcs around a marshy area to the Midway Creek Trail (.35 miles : 10,620'), which splits left and climbs fast on methodical switchbacks.
It rises steadily to the Hunter - Fryingpan Wilderness Boundary (1.4 miles : 11,465') where grades moderate in a thinning forest. Small clearings on this leg offer good camping terrain.
The trail emerges from treeline (2.15 miles : 11,760') and crosses willow-covered meadows to the edge of a scenic pond framed by the Collegiate Peaks and Elk Mountains (2.7 miles : 11,970'). It steepens up a wide slope to the trail's high point (3.02 miles : 12,112'), a good turnaround point if limited by time or weather, and split-off point for reaching the 13,033' summit above.
The trail continues NW from the crest on a gradual descent with great views over Coleman Creek to Midway Pass (4.0 miles : 11,841').
This last mile can be faint, though cairns help and terrain naturally funnels you in the correct direction. The pass might not be obvious and is only marked by a large cairn and short wood pole, but newly-found views down Midway Creek will confirm your arrival.
Terrain remains fairly mild for some time down Midway Creek, and Midway Lake is only 1 mile away as the crow flies from Midway Pass.
Interactive GPS Topo MapKey GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84
- N39 07.314 W106 37.449 — 0.0 miles : Lost Man Trailhead
- N39 07.509 W106 37.395 — .35 miles : Midway Creek Trail split
- N39 07.515 W106 37.456 — .5 miles : Begin steady climb on switchbacks
- N39 07.804 W106 37.557 — 1.4 miles : Hunter-Frying Pan Wilderness Boundary
- N39 08.138 W106 37.897 — 2.0 miles : Level travel in thinning forest
- N39 08.246 W106 37.951 — 2.15 miles : Cross treeline (11,762')
- N39 08.222 W106 38.307 — 2.5 miles : Moderate travel into big alpine expanse
- N39 08.256 W106 38.516 — 2.7 miles : Pass alpine pond
- N39 08.440 W106 38.913 — 3.02 miles : Crest on high point of trail (12,112')
- N39 08.784 W106 38.913 — 3.5 miles : Mild drop to pass
- N39 09.009 W106 39.348 — 4.0 miles : Midway Pass (11,841')
- Hunters may find this trail corridor useful, as it accesses big alpine meadows and relatively mild terrain across open tundra.
Camping and Backpacking Information
- Dispersed backcountry camping is permitted in the Hunter-Fryingpan Wilderness. No fees or permits are required.
- Camping is prohibited within 100' of any trail, lake or stream. Group size is limited to 15 individuals (or 25 with people + stock).
- Campfires are permitted in the Hunter-Fryingpan Wilderness, with potential seasonal restrictions. Campfires are not permitted above or within .25 miles (440 yards) of treeline, or within 100' of any trail, lake or stream. Location-specific restrictions may also apply.
- 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 Midway Creek, Midway Lake and all related streams on this route with a valid Colorado fishing license.
Rules and Regulations
- Dogs must be leashed at all times in the Hunter-Fryingpan Wilderness.
Directions to Trailhead
The Lost Man Trailhead is located 13.3 miles east of Aspen on Highway 82. It's located on the north side of Highway 82, directly across from Lost Man Campground.
Aspen Ranger District
806 West Hallam
Aspen, CO 81611
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