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Aspen, CO: Four Pass Loop

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Star Star Star Star Star

Distance: 26.0 miles


Four 12,000-foot passes, classic alpine views and a rugged loop around Colorado's most-photographed peaks make this 26.5-mile backpack a Rocky Mountain epic.
  • Fravert Basin
  • Trailhead Bus Stop
  • Maroon Bells
  • Rocky Trail
  • Trail #1970
  • Stream Crossing
  • Flowers
  • Campsite
  • Pass Climb
  • Trail Sign
  • Basin Views
  • Aspen
  • Heading North
  • Frigid Air
  • Fravert Basin
  • Below Trail Rider
  • Trail Rider View
  • Trail Rider Pass
  • Snowmass Descent
  • Scree
  • Cascade

From the shores of Maroon Lake, this lollipop-loop climbs to Crater Lake and turns south for a clockwise loop around the Maroon Bells. Campsites, creek crossings, and cross-valley views pepper the 6.25-mile climb to pass number one: 12,500-foot West Maroon. The rocky saddle falls westward into Halsey Basin where there are several wildflower-festooned trails that lead to Crested Butte. This route turns north, hugging the basin’s eastern edge before climbing a steep, loose path toward pass number two: 12,415-foot Frigid Air. Long sweeping switchbacks descend eastward into Fravert Basin. After a wet river crossing of the North Fork Crystal River, the trail turns uphill for a tough, aspen-lined climb toward an alpine lake below pass number three: 12,400-foot Trailrider. Snowmass Peak looms overhead as the trail skirts scree fields and dips below treeline near Snowmass Lake at mile 18.

The final climb to pass number four: 12,462-foot Buckskin Pass winds 3.5 miles through wetland meadows and turns increasingly uphill near the pass. The last several miles of this loop switchback downhill crossing avalanche-battered hillsides and touching the edge of the Minehaha Gulch before closing the loop at Crater Lake where you'll retrace your steps the final 1.6 miles to the trailhead.

-Mapped by Kristy Holland and Anne Whetzel

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