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Pyramid Peak

 Northeast Ridge
Difficulty Class 4 
Risk FactorsExposure: High
Rockfall Potential: High  
Route-Finding: High  
Commitment: High  
TrailheadMaroon Lake
Start9,600 feet
Summit14,029 feet
Total Gain4,500 feet
RT Length8.25 miles
Last UpdatedSep 2023
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Are You Ready For This?

Pyramid Peak is one of the most-difficult of the standard 14er routes; Don't take it lightly, don't go if you don't have solid Class 3/4 climb skills and don't go just to check this mountain off your list. If you are unsure of whether or not you have the necessary skills and partners for this climb, consider using a professional guide with proper certifications, at Aspen Expeditions. Watch out for phonies on social media who claim to be a guide but are not affiliated with a guide company. Call the pros.


You must book in-advance to get an overnight parking permit at the Maroon Lake trailhead. There are a limited number of overnight permits available and they will likely be gone/booked before summer. However, they do have a "Midnight-to-Midnight" permit which allows you to drive to the trailhead between midnight and 8am and hike the same day, leaving by midnight. Please visit this page for more information.
A reservation is required to pack in and camp near Crater Lake and permits are likely gone/reserved for the summer. If you are lucky enough to get a wilderness camp permit, you still have to reserve overnight parking, or ride the shuttle between 8am-5pm, or get dropped off outside of the 8am-5pm window. If you are unable to get a camp permit, you'll have to dayhike and still deal with parking or get dropped off early in the morning. Check for wilderness camping permits at recreation.gov. For reference, check out the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Overnight Permit Zone Map
Drive to Aspen and locate the start of the Maroon Creek road at a roundabout just west of town. Measuring mileage from there, drive 3.2 miles where you'll pass a ranch. At 4.7 miles, reach the U.S. Forest Service entrance station. Reach the trailhead at 9.5 miles. During summer, the road past the entrance station is closed to cars between 8am and 5pm so if you have a parking permit or getting dropped off, make sure it's outside these hours.


Follow the trail along the right side of Maroon Lake and enter the forest on the Crater Lake trail - 1. As you ascend into Maroon Creek, you'll get a preview of the lower route on Pyramid - 2. Before reaching Crater Lake, turn left onto the Pyramid trail , just below 10,200' - 3. There are two entry points to the Pyramid trail and both are cairned. Hike southeast across a flat, rocky area to reach a small talus field at the base of a 1,000-foot slope. In 2006, the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative (CFI) constructed a sustainable trail up this slope. Follow the trail and eventually switchback out of the trees - 4. Near 11,400', reach the entrance to the amphitheater .

Without a maintained trail, continue south into the amphitheater along the right side of a rock glacier - 5 and 6. Hike less than 1/2 mile toward Pyramid's north face before turning left (east) toward the center of the amphitheater - 7. Hop across talus toward the steep slope below Pyramid's northeast ridge and locate a trail at the base of the slope - 8 and 9. You must now climb 1,000' to reach 13,000' on the northeast ridge and portions of the slope are loose and scree-covered - 10 and 11. Reach the 13,000-foot saddle on Pyramid's northeast ridge where much of the remaining climb is now visible - 12. Turn right (southwest) and follow a small trail along the right side of a gendarme ( 13) and to a small saddle, near 13,100' - 14.

The remaining 1,000' requires Class 3 and 4 climbing and careful route-finding. Briefly follow cairns along the right side of the ridge until the terrain becomes more difficult. Climb left onto the ridge and over to the south side - 15 and 16. Below the ridge crest, follow cairns over a couple of small rock ribs and a small gap ( 17) to reach a narrow ledge ("cliff traverse") which crosses above some steep terrain - 18, 19 and 20. 21 is a broad look at the area from a bit higher on the route. It's an easy ledge but care must be taken while crossing a narrow section in the middle. After the ledge, follow cairns along the slope, across a gully ( 22), and left to another rock rib. Climb around this rock to reach a steep wall of greenish, light-colored rock - 23 and 24. Climb a few hundred feet up the greenish rock ( 25) and before reaching the ridge crest, look for cairns to the left. 26 and 27 show some of the steep terrain above the greenish rock.

The remaining 500' to the summit is complex, but usually well-cairned. Continue left of the ridge crest and zigzag up loose, red rock. You will likely encounter a couple of short, Class 4 pitches on the last few hundred feet below the summit. 28, 29 and 30 show some of the terrain. Near 13,900', if you've followed the most direct route, the slope eases near the top - 31. Gain the summit - 32 and 33.


This is the standard route on Pyramid but it's difficult and dangerous. IMPORTANT: This route enters the Maroon Bells - Snowmass Wilderness area. Wilderness areas have special regulations and restrictions for party size, dispersed camping, campfires, etc. Also, dog owners should read the wilderness information carefully because some wilderness areas prohibit dogs to be off-leash and/or limit how close dogs can be to lakes and streams. If you have questions about the wilderness area, please contact a U.S. Forest Service office for the National Forest(s) listed above.
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