Bald Knob's broad summit provides a spectacular viewpoint right on the edge of the Holy Cross Wilderness. The mountain is located one mile south and 750 feet above the McNarma 10th Mountain Division Hut and the peak also is above Aspen, one of the most famous ski resorts in the United States.
One thing unique about Bald Knob is that the area is closed in summer due to elk habitat so you must climb it in the season of late November through April. This is of little consequence however as the winter views of the Elk Range and Holy Cross Wilderness are superb. Those who aren’t into winter camping can also stay in the hut, so a lugging a huge pack in winter is not necessary.
My father on the broad summit of Bald Knob on January 19 2009.
Getting to the trailhead can be confusing because it is just outside the huge resort town of Aspen. From the intersection of Main Street and Mill Street in Aspen, drive north on Mill Street and across the bridge over the river. Turn left onto Red Mountain Road and follow it for about a mile. Turn right on Hunter Creek Road. Just after 0.2 miles, turn left and to a parking lot marked for the 10th Mountain Division Parking Area.
Hunter Creek not far from the trailhead.
The Hunter Creek Route
is the best and shortest route up the peak, assuming this peak is the only one you wanted to climb on the trip. This would be a very long ski or snowshoe (13.4 miles round trip with 2750 feet elevation gain), so most people stay overnight in the McNarma Hut. Camping may be possible, but very few people seem to do it.
Part of the gentle sections of the slopes of Bald Knoll on January 19 2009. Maroon Bells and the Elk Range are in the background.
Some people take the arduous route over from Smuggler Mountain and the Benedict hut, but this is a tough route and usually involves miles of wilderness trail breaking through the forest and is a three day loop.
You can also traverse to this area from Mount Yeckel and the Margy’s Hut area if you want a three day loop.
The area around the peak is closed outside the winter season (late-November through April).
Make sure to avoid private land near the trailhead.
Camping around Aspen in winter is problematic at best. I assume you would be safe to sleep in the vehicle at the trailhead since most everyone parks there overnight anyway, but there usually isn’t any room to put a tent up, which would be frowned upon anyway.
The Aspen/Basalt Campground is open year round. The address and phone number is as follows:
20640 Hwy 82
Basalt, CO 81621
Phone : 970-927-3405
Fax : 970-927-1059
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
If you want to book the McNarma Hut, see the website below, but make sure to do so well in advance, especially on a weekend:
10th Mountain Division Huts
When to Climb
As mentioned, the only time that you can legally climb this mountain is from Thanksgiving through April 30.
Maroon Bells as seen on the approach to Bald Knob. January 19 2009.
Mountain ConditionsClick Here For Area Weather Forecast
Weather and climate data for Independence Pass 5 SW Station at 10,510 feet elevation is below. *National Weather Service Data 1948-1980.
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