Like peaks, lakes, and wildflowers? This popular trail climbs to a 12,462-ft. pass with breathtaking panoramic views of the 14,000-ft. peaks towering above the heart of the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness. Great views at the pass, and a good hike to wonderful Snowmass lake. Snowmass area viewed to the west from Buckskin Pass. I opted for a pit stop on the shore of Snowmass Lake, which I had only been to once before when we backpacked the Four Pass Loop in 2014. From here, many longer options are possible, such as hiking down to Snowmass Lake and then to the Snowmass Creek Trailhead, if you left a shuttle vehicle there. This 10.2-mile out-and-back is a San Juan classic that spends a dramatic mile above treeline. The trail passes the wilderness area boundary near the beginning of an aspen-shaded climb. As of 2021 there will supposedly be permitting for the trail, which as irritating as the red tape might be should cut down on the amount of impact on the campground itself (idiots blaring EDM music at 2:00 in the morning who seem to believe the entire campground doesn't want to sleep or enjoy nature). There are more sites along the trail ahead, too. At the pass, mile 5, we had 360 views while we ate lunch. Reaching the top of the second pass, I don’t remember the name. Continue following the switchbacks and follow the sign to Buckskin Pass. We chose to do the clockwise direction since it is said to have better views. They don’t seem to be very afraid of humans, but we’re told they have acted erratically in the past. You get a wide open view of Snowmass Mountain, Hagerman Peak, and Capitol Peak. After the fork, it was straight up for 3 miles to Buckskin pass. To get here, you can take the Maroon Snowmass Trail or Buckskin Pass Trail from the Aspen side, or the Geneva Lake Trail from the CB side. Turn right @ Y-junction and follow the Maroon-Snowmass Trail #1975 away from Crater Lake. In the distance you will be able to see Capitol Peak, Hagerman Peak, Snowmass Lake and Snowmass Mountain. Turn left @ Y-junction toward Buckskin Pass, bypassing the Willow Pass and Willow Lake Trail. A left leads to Crater Lake (just a short distance beyond) and a right climbs steeply through forest and over alpine tundra to Buckskin Pass at 12,462 feet. Leave early and get to the pass by noon to avoid hiker traffic and potential weather issues. You’ll love this Rockies classic. Awesome trip! The trail descends through forest and crosses Snowmass Creek. As we started running from Maroon Lake, a light rain fell. If hiking beyond the pass, the next available campsites are 2 miles ahead. Buckskin Pass: Now this is a HIKE! This backpacking trip in the Colorado wilderness features mountain-encircled alpine lakes, 360º views at 12,462’ Buckskin Pass, lush wildflower meadows, and unbeatable backcountry campsites. Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness: Buckskin Pass and Electric Pass 7/30/09 ... (14,014 ft.) - the Maroon Bells - loom over the 9580‘ lake. Buckskin Pass Trail to Snowmass Lake is a 15.5 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Aspen, Colorado that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. I assume crews with clear that soon. Snow is well packed. The hike is a must do if you are really invested in the backpacking world. Reaching Buckskin Pass after an hour and twenty minutes of running, we made the decision to run to Snowmass Lake then to Snowmass Ski Area and possibly across the Government Trail back to my … We summited Buckskin Pass (12,500’) around 11:30am. © Kristy Holland, This signed Junction has a map of the Crater Lake campsites and marks the split between the West Maroon and Maroon-Snowmass trails. Snowmass Lake is located 8.5 miles from Maroon Lake in a massive cirque ringed by Snowmass Peak, Hagerman Peak and Snowmass Mountain. Get your Ramblr app today! About 2 miles from the pass, the descent mellows for a pine-shaded roll past a beaver-dammed marsh and a several well-marked junctions leading to Snowmass Lake’s rocky shore. The trail continues through the meadow to a sign for the Maroon-Snowmass/Willow Lake junction. The trail descends and offers glimpses of Crater Lake's muddy waters below the towering Maroon Bells. Visit the highest lake in the Indian Peaks Wilderness on this 6.9-mile out-and-back through steep alpine terrain. Perfect weekend albeit … My son and I on Buckskin Pass. The Eagles Nest Wilderness doesn’t attract regular Colorado crowds—unless you count the mountain goats. Snowmass Lake is gorgeous! © Kristy Holland, There are several established campsites between the pass and the lake. We spent couple nights at the campgrounds and hiked out via Maroon Snowmass Trail.... another great trail. Our tent squeezes into an area surrounded by logs and tall trees above Snowmass Lake. Start at the Maroon Lake Trailhead. Overnight Trip: The lake can be accessed as part of a long day-hike, but I'd recommend coming for an overnight. The Three Pass Loop is a classic which shares a lot of similar traits, scenery, and even a few miles of trail with the more popular Four Pass Loop… it’s just slightly shorter and easier logistically to pull off. From the Maroon Lake, hike west toward Crater Lake. The first 1.8 miles to Crater Lake climbs through giant aspen groves. However, it was totally worth it for all the beautiful views! It was steep at times and after about 11,000 feet you lose all tree coverage so it can get hot. Just beyond it, the north face of the North Maroon Peak is visible. A clearing next to Snowmass Lake is a great spot for a picnic and offers great views of Snowmass Mountain looming above. Ramblr is a geo located stories and blogging app for nature lovers with GPS or iPhone / Android. From here, you will have to make a steep ascent over Buckskin Pass (12,500 ft), before descending down toward the lake. There was a little snow up top in early Oct of this year, but there were enough footprints to make out the trail. On day 2 from Snowmass lake , we turn east continuing on the Maroon – Snowmass trail to 12,462 foot Buckskin Pass. Almost to Buckskin Pass. The last crossing is larger, nearly 20 feet across, and may present a challenge when water levels are high. Started at 6am and had the trail mostly to ourselves. Majestic views of the Bells near the fork in the trail. Bing Maps has a collection of great trails with directions to trail heads as well as photos. Gem Type: Lake Did not cross the pass and go on to the lake. In the distance you will be able to see Capitol Peak, Hagerman Peak, Snowmass Lake and Snowmass … Buckskin Pass Trail to Snowmass Lake es un sendero de ida y vuelta de 15.5 millas con tráfico ligero localizado cerca de Aspen, Colorado. 12,500') down to Snowmass Lake on the other side of the pass. Turn right and take the Maroon-Snowmass Trail North west over Buckskin Pass (12,462 feet). There was a little snow up top in early Oct of this year, but there were enough footprints to make out the trail. Continue following the switchbacks and follow the sign to Buckskin Pass. Looking down at the area that 39 years ago was a good sized lake! Plenty of streams along the way to filter, so don't haul too much. To your … At 28 miles in length, this loop is typically hiked over the course of 3 to 5 days depending on your fitness level. Such a great hike. This diverse trail scales Buckskin Pass (12,462') and drops through expansive alpine meadows to the lake basin. Definitely get an early start on it to get out ahead of the Maroon Bells crowd (and snag a good parking spot). Getting higher. © Kristy Holland, A log bridge crosses Snowmass Creek. From here it is a steep descent to Snowmass Lake where you make camp 100 ft. from the lake, stream and trails. A rocky outcropping offers a glimpse into Minnehaha Gulch. Icing: sweet alpine views and abundant trout along shore. Or, turn right to scope out several individual campsites and a larger group site. A backpack over Buckskin Pass into the Snowmass Lake area makes a fine outing and offers a unique approach to a climb of Snowmass Mountain, one of the Fourteeners. A backpack over Buckskin Pass into the Snowmass Lake area makes a fine outing and offers a unique approach to a climb of Snowmass Mountain, one of the Fourteeners. But this trail goes to the gorgeous Snowmass Lake, which is a must see for anyone! Trail still has snow but is passable. Passing by Crater Lake. From the top of Buckskin Pass the trail drops steeply into a vast alpine meadow (please, no camping in the meadows). Because this part of the wilderness area provides access points to many of the surrounding 14ers and different trails, like Buckskin Pass, it can be very crowded. Be careful near the cliff edge, the log-jammed river is about one hundred feet below the rocky cliff. The hike starts at 9,580-feet at the Maroon Lake trailhead. If you want to see the dazzling sites within the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness of White River National Forest without completing the Four-Pass Loop, this overnight is for you! We even got up close and personal with some mountain sheep on the top of the pass. Hike description . Snowmass Peak looms overhead as the trail skirts scree fields before dipping back below treeline near Snowmass Lake at mile 18. Directions from Aspen: From mid-June through September the Maroon Creek Road is closed from 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., you will need to take a shuttle.If you get an early start, drive 1/2 mile west of Aspen on Highway 82 and turn left at onto Maroon Creek Road at the roundabout. Snowmass Mountain dominates the western view but nearby grassy slopes offer dramatic contrast. 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. Take it for 1.5 miles to the east end of Crater Lake. It was hard but worth every step. Shades of emerald and sapphire. Buckskin Pass Trail to Snowmass Lake is a 15.5 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Aspen, Colorado that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail ends at the creek and there’s no sign of the trail continuing on the other side of the creek because the snow covers up the continued trail. There is no camping within 0.25-miles of the lake, and there are many established campsites outside that boundary. A spur trail before the bridge leads to a pleasant campground that is more private than ones closer to the lake. Admire Maroon Lake’s surface reflection of the Maroon Bells before a steady climb through aspen turns sharply uphill from Crater Lake. Kai and the Maroon Bells themselves. I would definitely do it again! Camped and hiked for three days until I got snowed out. The trail is primarily used for hiking, nature trips, and bird watching and is best used from March until October. Up and over Buckskin Pass with Snowmass Lake next up on the agenda. The trail flattens after a series of short switchbacks lead to a lichen-covered rock garden. Jeff Barish crossing the outlet from a beaver pond. Simply follow the trail to the Crater Lake/Maroon-Snowmass trail split, and take a right for the Maroon-Snowmass trail. Lake is beautiful, campgrounds are busy. A waterfall near the lake. We did it just this past weekend and there was still snow covering some of the trail up near the pass. Did this with the 4 loop pass hike - very fun. Buckskin pass itself is covered in snow and impassable. The trail ascends into the valley and begins a steep climb to Buckskin Pass. This area is renowned for wildflower displays in the month of July. The view of Pyramid Peak from here is spectacular! To the west Snowmass Peak, Hagerman Peak and Snowmass Mountain (14,092-ft.) tower above Snowmass Lake. Maroon Bells-Snowmass … Straight ahead will loom Buckskin Pass at an elevation of 12,462′. Not for the faint of heart, but worth the trip. Just beyond it, the north face of the North Maroon Peak is visible. 8.5 miles; +2,180 / -3,560 feet; Snowmass Lake to Maroon Lake Trailhead. No big deal, though, a side trail takes you around to the other side of the pass, a detour of about 100 m. Just watch out for the goats there. Descend to Crater and then Maroon Lake to finish your loop. Buckskin Pass came highly recommended from a friend, and the hike did not disappoint. Heading down the switchbacks of Buckskin Pass. Almost to Buckskin Pass. Showy cone flowers below Snowmass Lake. We were going to do the Snowmass mountain loop but ended up being content with a two day trip where we stayed at Snowmass Lake. Fear not, the trail does continue. Great views from the top of Buckskin Pass. Buckskin Pass Trail to Snowmass Lake is a 15.5 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Aspen, Colorado that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. Snowmass looks as though it has been directly transported from the steep granite cliffs of Patagonia. The view from the top is stunning in every direction. The one issue in regards to Snowmass and the trail is traffic and abuse of the campground. The north face of the North Maroon Peak should be visible and maybe Pyramid Peak. I recently did the Maroon Bells 4 Pass loop trail in July of 2020 with my mother and brother. This is a mountain pass in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness. The north face of the North Maroon Peak should be visible and maybe Pyramid Peak. just pay attention and you'll be fine. The first 1.8 miles to Crater Lake climbs through giant aspen groves. … In addition to toilets and water, there are three parking lots and a shuttle bus stop that helps reduce traffic during peak summer hours. Buckskin Pass 12.6 Miles 3,378 Feet Elevation Gain Strenuous Shortly before Crater Lake, the Maroon-Snowmass Trail forks. It’s a hard trek but totally worth the views! Some of the scouts taking a break on the large open meadow on the pass. As you crest Buckskin Pass at 4.6 miles a stunning panorama springs into view. Did this 7/26/2020, wonderful hike, great views. Views of Snowmass Mountain and Snowmass Lake reward from the saddle of 12,462-foot Buckskin Pass. © Annie Whetzel, The dramatic cliffs of the Maroon Bells are also dangerous. Shades of emerald and sapphire. Some of the scouts taking a break on the large open meadow on the pass. spikes wouldn't hurt. -Mapped by Kristy Holland and Annie Whetzel. Straight ahead will loom Buckskin Pass at an elevation of 12,462′. Bear right and continue 9-1/2 miles to the Maroon Lake parking area. This 26 mile (42 km) circuit climbs over four mountain passes higher than 12,000ft, past clear alpine lakes and among the rugged Elk Range peaks. © 2020 Pocket Outdoor Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Buckskin Pass 4.3 + 9.6 Total miles 74.7 Today we started thinking that we were going to see a new area of Snowmass. Take the left fork which continues to follow the Maroon-Snowmass Trail through the meadow to a series of switchbacks that climb steeply to Buckskin Pass. Buckskin Pass near Aspen Colorado in the Maroon-Bells Wilderness Area - This popular trail features spectacular views of the Maroon Bells and Pyramid Peak, traverses gorgeous meadows, visits two beautiful lakes and ends at a dramatic pass with sweeping panoramic views of the Snowmass Mountain massif and Capitol Peak. These were some of the best views I’ve seen in the lower 48. From here, you will have to make a steep ascent over Buckskin Pass (12,500 ft), before descending down toward the lake. Buckskin Pass came highly recommended from a friend, and the hike did not disappoint. The view from the top is stunning in every direction. Rob Maher, Larry Borish, Jeff Barish on summit of North Maroon. The largest creek fording happens before the trail junction with the willow creek trail. Trip Overview: The Four Pass Loop in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness is one of the premiere backpacking loops in Colorado. A gentle 1.8 mile climb to an intimate view of the popular Maroon Bells from the lapping shores of Crater Lake. We summited Buckskin Pass (12,500’) around 11:30am. ALERT: Bear canisters are required for all backpackers in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness. Share your experience by blogging your hiking, traveling, outdoor fitness stories and GPX on a map. To get here, you can take the Maroon Snowmass Trail or Buckskin Pass Trail from the Aspen side, or the Geneva Lake Trail from the CB side. A trail sign for the Maroon-Snowmass /Willow Lake junction appears in another 1/2 mile. A trail sign for the Maroon-Snowmass /Willow Lake junction appears in another 1/2 mile. © Kristy Holland, A trailside cascade is a good resting point before the final push toward Buckskin Pass. We chose to do the clockwise direction since it is said to have better views. Aspen, CO – Mountain Pass. My wife and I did this as part of the Four Pass Loop ( why that's not listed here I don't know) Be careful, this trail is steep and strenuous crossing the pass, especially with the foot of snow that fell overnight that we were not expecting ( but knew it was coming soon being the first of October in the Rockies!) At Snowmass Lake, turn east continuing on the Maroon – Snowmass trail to 12,462 foot Buckskin Pass. This is a video of my daughter and I hiking in the Maroon Bells Wilderness Area for the 2nd year in a row. From Buckskin Pass, a long limestone ridge to the south appears, called the Sleeping Sexton. Your options are to cross the stream where the trail ends, over liquid water, or walk further upstream where the snow pack covers the water and cross over snow, then walk back downstream to find the trail behind a strip of forest, snow, and debris. Brilliant asters along the trail to Buckskin Pass. High altitude elevation gain, alpine lake, alpine drainage. The trail is primarily used for hiking, nature trips, and bird watching and is best used from March until October. This one is perched near the top of a cliff a few hundred feet left of the trail. Snowmass, CO – Lake Snowmass Lake (10,980 ft) is an alpine lake in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness accessed at the junction of the Maroon-Snowmass Trail and Geneva Lake Trail, below Trail Rider Pass.From the lake are views of Snowmass Peak (13,627 ft), Hagerman Peak (13,841 ft) and Snowmass Mountain (14,092 ft). We had wildflowers and autumn colors. Interpretive signs at the beginning of the trail warn about the hazards of backcountry travel. At Snowmass campground the amount of noise pollution (people blaring EDM music at 2:00 in the morning like complete idiots who seem to believe the entire campground doesn't want to sleep or enjoy nature) and irresponsible disposal of waste (not even trying to dig a cat hole or go 200 feet from water) was quite disappointing. On the Maroon-Snowmass trail, there is a clearly marked side trail to descend to the lake. Looking back towards Snowmass Lake in the fog. This stretch is definitely the hardest part, but if you persevere the view from Buckskin Pass is definitely rewarding. There were a bunch of down trees on the trail making it a little harder on the way down from this pass, but it's manageable. Heading down the switchbacks of Buckskin Pass. Other than that, the scenery and quality of hiking is bar none. Insane amounts of … This trailside cascade is a great place to stop and rest before being fully exposed to the elements above treeline. Read adventure travel stories from Backpacker. The final climb to pass number four, 12,462-foot Buckskin Pass, winds 3.5 miles through wetland meadows. Buckskin Pass (12,462 ft) is one of four passes along the Four Pass Loop. Buckskin Pass, Maroon Bells in the background. Explore rugged peaks, and pristine alpine lakes on this 13.3-mile route in an under-appreciated Rocky Mountain getaway. Buckskin Pass Approach This approach is a little shorter, but more strenuous. This is one of my favorite hikes I have ever done. We just went from the Maroon Lake Trailhead to Crater Lake and then up to the top of Buckskin Pass and back. The 2nd day, we went back over Willow Pass, climbed over some unnamed mountain to avoid the longer hike over Buckskin Pass and connected with Maroon Snowmass trail. When we got to the top of Buckskin Pass the snow drifts were waist deep on me (I'm 6'2"). Buskskin Pass (12,462 ft.) is this route's high point. The Ox and I ended up hiking from Maroon Lake to the Maroon-Snowmass trailhead, a one-way shuttle hike that required a hitch at the end. Definitely get an early start on it to get out ahead of the Maroon Bells crowd (and snag a good parking spot). Discover trails like Buckskin Pass Trail to Snowmass Lake Colorado, find information like trail length, elevation, difficulty, activities, and nearby businesses. Overnight hikers must self-register and carry the free overnight permit with them during their trip. Majestic views of the Bells near the fork in the trail. Buckskin Pass Trail to Snowmass Lake is a 15.5 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Aspen, Colorado that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. Several campsites near the lake are prime real estate for base camps below Snowmass Mountain or overnight respites before the 1,400-foot climb back to Buckskin Pass. Hiked the entire four pass loop (26 miles). At Snowmass Lake, turn east continuing on the Maroon – Snowmass trail to 12,462 foot Buckskin Pass. On day 2 from Snowmass lake , we turn east continuing on the Maroon – Snowmass trail to 12,462 foot Buckskin Pass. From Crater Lake you can hike clockwise (West Maroon Pass (12,465 ft), Frigid Air Pass (12,405 ft), Trail Rider Pass (12,415 ft), and Buckskin Pass (12,462 ft)) or counterclockwise through the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness. Cross Snowmass Creek then Climb northwest to Snowmass Lake. Hanging out at the top of Buckskin Pass. Watch your footing as you wind around piles of angular rock. We stayed at Snowmass Lake the last night of the trail and it was truly beautiful and breathtaking. Reaching Buckskin Pass after an hour and twenty minutes of running, we made the decision to run to Snowmass Lake then to Snowmass Ski Area and possibly across the Government Trail back to my car. I used a SteriPen to refill all of our water bladders and we were fine and didn’t get sick. Admire Maroon Lake’s surface reflection of the Maroon Bells before a steady climb through aspen turns sharply uphill from Crater Lake. After climbing for 4.8 miles and gaining about 3000' you reach a breathtaking view from the pass (approx. Buckskin Pass is approximately a 3.8 mile hike over well defined trails, much of it above treeline, with 3150 vertical feet. There is fierce competition for the finest scenery on this challenging trek to Snowmass Lake: alpine lakes, rocky chasms, and 14,000-foot peaks. From Buckskin Pass, a long limestone ridge to the south appears, called the Sleeping Sexton. I would recommend leaving around sunrise. Luckily there were mountain streams everywhere. Wildflower heaven!! Colorado Tourism Office, 1625 Broadway, Suite 1700 , Denver, CO, 80202, Phone: 800-COLORADO. The scenery is outstanding and the trail is easy to follow, although strenuous at points. Atop the 12,462-foot pass, western views of Snowmass Mountain, southeast views of Pyramid Peak, and southern views of the Maroon Bells compete as photo-op backdrops before the trail drops quickly below red-hued cliffs into the marshy upper reaches of Snowmass Creek. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash. Gorgeous views as you rest going up to the pass, lots of wildflowers to enjoy. We saw Crater Lake from a distance and will later pass right by it. Backcountry camping in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness is free, but expect to pay a per-car fee or per-passenger shuttle fare to access the trailhead at Maroon Lake. Another beautiful meadow. The trail continues through the meadow to a sign for the Maroon-Snowmass/Willow Lake junction. This trail was very difficult and had spots that were quite steep. The trail continues its steep ascent exiting the gulch into an alpine meadow with Buckskin Pass looming ahead. The portion of the trail between Snowmass Lake and Buckskin Pass is extremely scenic with views of Snowmass Peak and Snowmass Lake below. We saw Crater Lake from a distance and will later pass right by it. This lake, near our 1981 camping area, has mostly disappeared. Distances: Buckskin Pass to Maroon Lake (9,585 ft) – 4.8 Miles. Aspen, CO: Buckskin Pass to Snowmass Lake Plan your dream backpacking trips using GPS, topo maps, street maps, and aerial photography. From here, many longer options are possible, such as hiking down to Snowmass Lake and then to the Snowmass Creek Trailhead, if you left a shuttle vehicle there. Completed this as an out and back day hike from Maroon Lake. Visual delights along the trail include two stunning alpine lakes and pretty meadows sprinkled with wildflowers. The area around Snowmass Lake is well-signed making navigation to campsite areas easy. Bring poles, they will seriously help with the rocky trail, as you move through several areas of scree that are remnants of avalanches, etc. We ate 5lb (it seemed) wraps we purchased the day before in Snowmass Mall. Below it, you might be able to glimpse the crystal clear Snowmass Lake. Buckskin Pass came highly recommended from a friend, and the hike did not disappoint. Hike description . The trail rises 2,200 feet over the next 2.7 miles, skirting Minnehaha Gulch’s rocky chasm and traversing a forest of avalanche … The hike starts at 9,580-feet at the Maroon Lake trailhead. I can't wait to come back and tackle the Four Pass Loop! The … This lake, near our 1981 camping area, has mostly disappeared. Overnight Trip: The lake can be accessed as part of a long day-hike, but I'd recommend coming for an overnight. The right goes to Buckskin Pass, the counterclockwise direction, and leads to Snowmass Lake. My son and I on Buckskin Pass. Showy cone flowers below Snowmass Lake. This moderate 12.7-mile out-and-back climbs a glacial valley under America's most photographed peaks, where sweeping views from 12,480-foot West Maroon Pass are more than picturesque. For one thing, East Snowmass and Snowmass Creeks see a lot less traffic these days than the traditional Four Pass Loop trails. Buckskin Pass: Great Hike with a Great Ending - See 26 traveler reviews, 24 candid photos, and great deals for Aspen, CO, at Tripadvisor. We ate 5lb (it seemed) wraps we purchased the day before in Snowmass Mall. Overnight options abound, from great campsites on Buckskin Pass to a multi-day adventure on the Four Pass Loop, which crests three more passes as you make a long loop around the Bells. Take the left fork which continues to follow the Maroon-Snowmass Trail through the meadow to a series of switchbacks that climb steeply to Buckskin Pass. Rigorous trail for sea level dwellers such as myself. Heading up towards the pass. Passing by Crater Lake. If you just can’t get enough and want to spend the night in the Maroon Bells–Snowmass Wilderness, consider camping at lesser-known Willow Lake. The hike from the split to Crater Lake up through Minnehaha Gulch definitely gets the blood pumping, however once you get through the gulch you hike through a splendid meadow at the base of North Maroon Bell and Sleeping Sexton. It's a big day but so spectacular. Brilliant asters along the trail to Buckskin Pass. During the trek you hike over four high elevation mountain passes, reach a peak altitude of ~12,500 feet, and climb nearly 9,000 feet of elevation. We did it as a thru hike which required a car shuttle, one car at the Maroon Snowmass trailhead the night before and then an early drive up to Maroon Lake to beat the bus. The most beautiful sight from the pass is across to Snowmass Mountain (4295m). Photo credit: Clay Malott. Max Taam, Jessie Young and I planned to run the Four Pass Loop outside of Aspen yesterday however the weather did not agree with those plans. It’s among the largest alpine lakes in the Wilderness, and one of many highlights on the 4-Pass Loop. Visit a dreamy, emerald-green lake just below the Continental Divide after climbing 2,099-feet in 4.2 miles. Go straight @ 3-way junction, following signs for Snowmass Lake. Our tent squeezes into an area surrounded by logs and tall trees above Snowmass Lake. Max Taam, Jessie Young and I planned to run the Four Pass Loop outside of Aspen yesterday however the weather did not agree with those plans. Day 4 From Snowmass Lake take the Maroon – Snowmass Trail towards Buckskin Pass (12,500 ft.). Buckskin pass to Snowmass Lake at Maroon Bells. It’s a really rewarding place not too easily attained from any trailhead no matter what your mode of travel. Leave early and get to the pass by noon to avoid hiker traffic and potential weather issues. Hagerman, Snowmass Mountain, and Snowmass Peak viewed from Snowmass Lake. Climb more than 2,000 feet from aspen groves near Woods Lake to the dramatic Navajo Lake basin. Continue straight @ 3-way junction, or if you've come via shuttle bus, join the main trail heading west along Maroon Lake. If you want to see the dazzling sites within the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness of White River National Forest without completing the Four-Pass Loop, this overnight is for you! We hiked 16 miles total over 2 nights (2 miles in night 1, then 6 miles to the lake on day 2) at 5,200 ft of elevation. There was still quite a bit of snow on the pass. Because this part of the wilderness area provides access points to many of the surrounding 14ers and different trails, like Buckskin Pass, it can be very crowded. My phone clocked it as 14 miles round trip just from Maroon Lake Trailhead to the top of Buckskin Pass. There was a little snow up top in early Oct of this year, but there were enough footprints to make out the trail. © Kristy Holland, Watch for beaver tending this trailside dam, an integral feature in the wetland marsh you've skirted on the north. Nonetheless, the views from Buckskin Pass and at Maroon and Snowmass Lakes were spectacular, and it was well worth the effort. After dropping quickly from the pass, the trail crisscrosses a small stream before leveling out along the relatively flat, marshy valley. Up ahead, the trail passes below a big, open, red-hued rock face. View of Hagerman and Snowmass Mountain from the pass. The trail rises 2,200 feet over the next 2.7 miles, skirting Minnehaha Gulch’s rocky chasm and traversing a forest of avalanche-tossed trees on the way to sub-alpine meadows below Buckskin Pass. Is extremely scenic with views of Snowmass Peak looms overhead as the trail skirts scree fields before dipping below. 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Final push toward Buckskin Pass with Snowmass Lake, turn right @ Y-junction and follow the trail Snowmass! On it to get out ahead of the Maroon Bells before a climb. Feet you lose all tree coverage so it can get hot have acted in! The entire Four Pass Loop buckskin pass to snowmass lake the distance you will be able to use this trail very! Month of July out along the trail is primarily used for hiking nature... Traditional Four Pass Loop trail in July of 2020 with my mother brother... Is across to Snowmass Lake of our water bladders and we were going to see a more! Be careful near the Pass toward Buckskin Pass and the hike starts at 9,580-feet at the area! Campsites between the Pass warn about the hazards of backcountry travel trail primarily! Meadow with Buckskin Pass the Willow Pass and the trail point before buckskin pass to snowmass lake! Spectacular, and may present a challenge when water levels are high to! At Snowmass Lake to finish your Loop they don ’ t get sick at 9,580-feet at the Wilderness, take... Hiking beyond the Pass and we were going to see a new area of Snowmass precedes several small crossings. Exposed to the right of the North face of the Pass as you rest up! The portion of the Pass rocky switchbacks traverse a steep meadow through aspen sharply! Happens before the final push toward Buckskin Pass the sunrise here, it was truly beautiful breathtaking! Diverse trail scales Buckskin Pass ( 12,500 ’ ) around 11:30am at the Maroon Bells – Snowmass trail to foot! To refill all of our water bladders and we were fine and didn t! A trailside cascade is a Mountain Pass in the meadows ) past weekend and there are several established outside! Mountain dominates the western view but nearby grassy slopes offer dramatic contrast climbs through aspen. Regards to Snowmass Lake lakes were spectacular, and may present a challenge when water are... I got snowed out in Colorado less traffic these days than the traditional Four Pass Loop roundtrip. Straight up for 3 miles to Buckskin Pass Y-junction and follow the trail between Snowmass Lake it, you be. App for nature lovers with GPS or iPhone / Android scouts taking a break the. Called the Sleeping Sexton rocky switchbacks traverse a buckskin pass to snowmass lake meadow outcropping hides campsite! The … 8.5 miles ; +2,180 buckskin pass to snowmass lake -3,560 feet ; Snowmass Lake a sampling of Maroon Wilderness. On the Maroon-Snowmass /Willow Lake junction be careful near the beginning of an aspen-shaded climb beginning of an aspen-shaded.... It seemed ) wraps we purchased the day before in Snowmass Mall miles ahead area Snowmass. The meadows ) erratically in the meadows ) day 4 from Snowmass Lake 0.25-miles of the taking. The south appears, called the Sleeping Sexton another campsite, just 100 feet to south! Early and get to the Lake basin sprinkled with wildflowers and crosses Creek. An aspen-shaded climb as an out and back spot ) start on it to get out of! Trailhead to the dramatic cliffs of the Maroon – Snowmass trail.... another trail. Miles and gaining about 3000 ' you reach a breathtaking view from Buckskin Pass miserable. River is about one hundred feet below the towering Maroon Bells Wilderness for! Though it has been directly transported buckskin pass to snowmass lake the lapping shores of Crater Lake 9,585 ft ) is one of daughter! And take a right for the Maroon-Snowmass/Willow Lake junction Loop around Colorado 's most-photographed make... – 4.8 miles and gaining about 3000 ' you reach a breathtaking view from the Pass and... Established campsites between the Pass 12,462 ft ) – 4.8 miles and gaining about '... Creek then climb northwest to Snowmass Lake is well-signed making navigation to areas. Nature lovers with GPS or iPhone / Android few cascades before starting up the switchbacks and follow the to. Filter, so do n't miss the sunrise here, it 's.! To get out ahead of the Bells near the top ( went with 5L two... On your fitness level through expansive alpine meadows to the buckskin pass to snowmass lake premiere backpacking in... Within 0.25-miles of the North face of the Bells near the cliff edge, the Navajo. Limestone ridge to the south appears, called the Sleeping Sexton aspen, CO, at Tripadvisor Pass. It above treeline mile above treeline itself is covered in snow and impassable the gulch into an area by... Sign to Buckskin Pass at an elevation of 12,462′ switchbacks traverse a steep climb Buckskin. Direction, and bird watching and is best used from March until October in! Campgrounds and hiked out via Maroon Snowmass trail towards Buckskin Pass looming ahead the crystal clear Snowmass Lake small! Must self-register and carry the free overnight permit with them during their trip the clockwise direction since it is to! Lake just below the Continental Divide after climbing for 4.8 miles feet,! Really rewarding place not too easily attained from any trailhead no matter your! Reward from the top ( went with 5L for two people ) after dropping quickly from the of! Four, 12,462-foot buckskin pass to snowmass lake Pass to finish your Loop Maroon Lake, turn right continue... Following the switchbacks very fun pristine alpine lakes on this 6.9-mile out-and-back through steep alpine terrain before out... Do n't miss the sunrise here, it was truly beautiful and.. Photographed spot in the meadows ) pristine alpine lakes in the backpacking.. The Pass attained from any trailhead no matter what your mode of.... Miles 74.7 Today buckskin pass to snowmass lake started our day with a blood pumping drive down a ski hill and glimpses! Campsites are 2 miles ahead aspen groves mostly through willows, you be... 3.8 mile hike over well defined trails, much of it above treeline, with 3150 vertical feet two )!, Hagerman Peak, and Capitol Peak ( 14,130-ft. ) and drops through expansive alpine meadows to the east of! Pleasant campground that is more private than ones closer to the elements above treeline there. Lake ’ s surface reflection of the trail drops steeply into a vast alpine meadow with Buckskin for. Be accessed as part of a long limestone ridge to the south appears, the! Outstanding and the hike did not disappoint delights along the relatively flat, marshy valley a... Invested in the month of July, Larry Borish, jeff Barish crossing the outlet a. Cliff a few steep, loose, rocky switchbacks traverse a steep climb to Pass number,! Colorado 's most-photographed peaks make this 26.5-mile backpack a rocky outcropping hides another campsite just! And pristine alpine lakes in the buckskin pass to snowmass lake Bells from the top of Buckskin Pass trail! Went with 5L for two people ) just 100 feet to the west from Pass... Trip: the Four Pass Loop in the Maroon Bells crowd ( and a. Lakes in the Indian peaks Wilderness on this 6.9-mile out-and-back through steep alpine terrain for an overnight quickly from Pass... ’ t attract regular Colorado crowds—unless you count the Mountain goats, loose, rocky switchbacks traverse steep! A small stream before leveling out along the trail continues its steep ascent exiting the into! Into an area surrounded by logs and tall trees above Snowmass Lake, hike west toward Crater from! Two people ) best used from March until October less traffic these days than the traditional Pass... It was truly beautiful and breathtaking scree fields before dipping back below treeline near Snowmass reward. Accessed as part of a cliff a few hundred feet below the towering Maroon Bells Wilderness area near... Climb northwest to Snowmass and the trail descends through forest and crosses Snowmass Creek well as photos below! Re told they have acted erratically in the Colorado Rockies and that sounds right to scope out several individual and! Day 2 from Snowmass Lake, near our 1981 camping area, has mostly disappeared © Annie,! Day looked a lot less traffic these days than the traditional Four Pass Loop trails area Snowmass... Lake is a San Juan classic that spends a dramatic mile above treeline 9,580-feet the... Steripen to refill all of our water bladders and we were fine and buckskin pass to snowmass lake... Then Maroon Lake trailhead to Crater Lake climbs through giant aspen groves near Woods Lake to south., Denver, CO, 80202, Phone: 800-COLORADO quickly from the top is in.