Four Pass Loop

Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness

White River National Forest, near Aspen in Central Colorado

4 days, July 21-24, 2016

29 miles
Elevation Ascent: 8,117 ft

I now live near Denver, CO but seem to still travel to the California Sierra Nevada mountains to hike... Seems like I should explore the Rockies that are my new home!
I tried to hike the Four Pass Loop in 2013, but had to abort the trip after the first day. Severe lightening had me running for shelter up near West Maroon Pass, so I resolved to try again in 2016. This time my son hiked with me, which was a treat.

Maroon Bells


4PL Elevation Profile

This classic 29-mile backpacking circuit around the spectacular Maroon Bells climbs over four 12,000-ft. passes (West Maroon - 12,500 ft.; Frigid Air - 12,415 ft.; Trail Rider - 12,420 ft.; Buckskin - 12,500 ft.)

We did the hike in a clockwise direction based on advice from others, and am really glad we did. The elevation gain going counter-clockwise up Buckskin Pass would be a killer first day.

Unless you are skilled in traveling in snow, this is a mid-late summer hike. The passes can be snow covered until late July or early August in some years.

We found this hike to be strenuous (as you will undoubtedly gather from my frequent complaining in the videos... sorry about that).
We did low mile days (7-9) which I thought would mean a moderate hike, however the grade of ascent for the trail is steep, which makes this a more challenging hike.

I won't try to list all the trail details, please check for current trail conditions and regulations before heading out.

However some things to note:
Bear cans: It now appears that IGBC approved bear proof food storage containers are required.
Permits: Self register at the trailhead.
Dogs: Allowed (on leash)


Getting there - directions:
This is a HEAVILY visited area and trailhead. Finding parking will be an issue unless you arrive before dawn.
There is a shuttle bus that I highly recommend if you arrive after 8am.

Drive 1/2 mile west of Aspen on Highway 82 to the Roundabout . Go around the Roundabout and turn right onto Maroon Creek Road. Drive 9-1/2 miles on Maroon Creek Road to the overnight parking lot just below Maroon Lake. This is located on the left side of the road. Access to this lot after 8:30 AM requires a stop at the Forest Service Entrance Station on Maroon Creek Road for an overnight pass. If the lot is full you may drive 1/4 mile down the road to the West Maroon Portal parking lot.

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