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hiking
1 month ago

HIKED ON SUNDAY MARCH 4, 2018

My first time hiking this trail was late October 2017 with some friends my first time in Durango. It is one of my favorites in SW Colorado so far. TRAIL IS VERY ROCKY SO BE CAREFUL WHERE YOU STEP TO AVOID HURTING YOUR ANKLE OR FALLING.

The hike doesn't start off the best. From the parking lot you have to wander though the camp/picnic grounds to the actual trailhead, this path isn't well marked but just head east from the lot. One you get to the trailhead there is a decent amount of elevation gain up to a point where you will have a clear view of the creek. At first you will be walking high above the creek but after a few miles you will eventually be walking along the creek. Honestly isn't the most scenic hike but is quiet and you have the Vallecito Creek the whole way. I made it about 5 miles deep before turning around.

Lots of little waterfalls along the creek so Spring/Summer this would be an amazing hike to come and relax by the water.

As of now SNOWSHOES COULD HELP BUT ARE NOT NECESSARY!! Most of the snow was at the beginning in the camp/picnic grounds. One you get to the trail you are fine.

backpacking
2 months ago

10/10. Loved every step of this trail. I suggest counter clockwise. The climb up trail raider from clockwise direction looked miserable. Glad I was going down!

backpacking
3 months ago

Second time on this loop in September with friends. Campsites were crowded around Snowmass Lake. Pics from the trip: https://www.flickr.com/photos/geoffreydgraham/albums/72157688773204146

backpacking
3 months ago

First backpacking trip this past September and fell in love! Elevation was no joke but a little bit of training beforehand and you’ll be alright. Views are amazing!

This is an amazing hike with views of Vallecito Creek running wild through the gorge. Tremendous whitewater and plenty of opportunities to sit and chill by the Creek. Has some ups and downs and the first bridge makes a good half day hike at about 3.7 miles each way.

hiking
4 months ago

Beautiful trail. Trail gets craggy in places so bringing along trekking poles may be a good idea.

backpacking
5 months ago

My girlfriend and I completed this trail in 4 days in early July, 2017. It was her first backpacking experience. Much of the trail was still covered with snow pack, we used crampons on a couple traverses and used ice axes to glissade down from two of the passes. We were hoping to summit Snowmass Mountain, but decided it was too much for a first time backpacker. The only bugs we encountered were immediately surrounding Snowmass lake. We saw no traces of bear. There were not many people on the trail when we were there, probably due to the amount of snow pack. Water was abundant and we never carried more than 2 quarts each. A few of the creeks were tough to cross without getting our feet wet, so I would recommend bringing sandals for the trip. The trip could easily be done in 3 full days, but add a fourth if you make a Snowmass Mountain summit attempt.

backpacking
5 months ago

Most epic backpacking trip I have ever done. Simply outstanding!

Great backpacking route, I soloed it in 2 days, camped around mile 13 at the black rock spot and had the place all to myself. Refrigerator gulch is pretty and amazing in the fall, the rocks are huge and fun looking. Saw black bears and a hawk hunting, super windy but a great trek! Very minimum snow on trail, didn’t use microspikes at all

loved it! was beautiful all the way around.

hiking
5 months ago

Great in/out hike today. First, half of trail wasn't too bad, some mud and snow. Later half was covered in 3-5 inches of snow. Wish we had some spikes with us but nothing too bad. Didn't see anyone except a few hunters.

backpacking
6 months ago

Best hike of my life so far! Stunning. Very difficult. Very worth It!
We did it in 4 days and 3 nights.
We took too much food. There were plenty of spots to fill up water so I started carrying no more than 1.5 to 2 liters of water any given time.

backpacking
6 months ago

The reviews already submitted are accurate. I just did this hike over the course of two days. I recommend getting out there early. The best camping spots in my opinion are near the trail shelter which is a short trail just off the Wheeler Geological Area trail. Additionally, beware one of the creek crossings is quite large. It was very cold when I went and wet feet would have been a nightmare. If you go upstream about 100 yards you can find two logs to cross. The trip going back to the trailhead is a lot tougher as others mentioned (many uphill sections) Lastly, tie your shoes tight this trail killed my toenails.

Love this trail! Good climb right off the bat with great canyon scenery. Then you wind next to and over the creek. Good camping options beyond 4 miles in... can't wait to explore further!

Loved this hike. I'm coming back with more friends.

My wife, 5 year old, 8 year old and I went on this yesterday. The scenery is out of this world! The hike itself was not too difficult for myself and my wife but the kids had a difficult time coming back. The hike there is mostly downhill, but the hike back is almost all uphill. We did this in about 4 hours, and it was totally worth it. I highly recommend it!

backpacking
6 months ago

Fall colors at their best this week. We camped at Eaglesmere Lakes. Didn't see any mammals at this altitude, including humans. It was beautiful and peaceful. Be prepared for night time temps in the 30s now. No facilities at the parking area or lakes.

My husband and I explored the wheeler area on September 16 2017, we drove the 16 mile 4x4 road in our 2007 Chevy silverado. We made it fine. The road was very long and lots of mud puddles and places where there lots of rocks. It look us 2 1/2 hours to reach the trailhead where we camped in a tent for the night. Beautiful area but there is alot of dead trees due to beetles. We hiked the 2 mile loop . The views are amazing! The formations will make you wonder if you are still on planet earth. It was well worth the time and discomfort of the long rough road to get there! We saw a couple vehicles with flat tires so make sure you have a spare and don't attempt to drive this road without 4 wheel drive. I would of given it 5 stars if it weren't so hard to get to.

backpacking
6 months ago

Did the Four Pass Loop counter-clockwise over four days as a birthday present to myself. Pretty stunning way to celebrate 25 years. Hiked in 1.5 miles to Crater Lake the first night to get a jumpstart on the next day. Plenty of water along the trail (I carried 2L) - no bugs - gets cold at night so bring a 15º bag and pad with good r value. Favorite campsites were a grassy knoll below King Falls in Fravert Basin and the beaver pond 1 mile past Snowmass Lake. SM Lake is beautiful, and also very crowded (but that can provide some humor - I woke up to someone's dog pooping in my campsite). The Elks are teetering on the brink of winter - it snowed lightly every night, adding dramatic striations to the peaks. Even though it was the weekend I didn't find the trail to be overcrowded and was vaguely inspired to try running it sometime in the distant future.

The counter-clockwise trip on the 4 Pass Loop is fantastic. We did it in 3 days camping at Snowmass Lake the first night, and Crystal Falls the second night. 8 miles on the first and second days left about 12 miles and two passes on the final day. That sounds like a lot, and it is. But the final two passes aren't nearly as difficult on the third day leaving from Crystal Falls for a couple of reasons. First, you are lighter. After eating two days of food and figuring out that we don't need to start each day with a ton of water (there is plenty of water on this hike), we were much lighter. Also, Crystal Falls is at roughly 11,000' so the climb up Frigid Air Pass was only 1,500 feet or so. And in between Frigid Air and West Maroon Pass you only descend to 11,500ish feet so again, West Maroon Pass is not that bad of a 1,500 foot climb. The long gradual descent back down to Crater Lake makes the final 5 miles go by quickly. This was one of my all-time favorite hikes. There are stunning scenes at every glance. And if you go mid-week, the trails are relatively empty.

backpacking
7 months ago

This trail was very beautiful, the scenery was literally breathtaking! Both Marvine Trails (East and west) were very well travelled and easy to follow but once you get to the "trail" that connects the two you better have a good sense of direction, a map to follow, and altimeter, and something that keeps track of mileage. The trail literally disappears at the top of the plateau and you have to figure out which way to go and for how long. My group got so lost going from West Marvine to East Marvine that we ended up in the middle of the plateau, cliffs all around us, and 6 miles out of the way of the trail. We were forced to go through some tretortous terrain just to finally find the trail so far from where we realized we were lost at and we had a map of the area and a Garmin watch that kept track of all our mileage and stuff. Our 21.8 mile hike quite rapidly became a 29 mile hike and I was to the point of calling search and rescue to come help us. My advice: get a fishing license before you go so if you have to call search and rescue it's at no charge to you, buy a handheld and topographic map of the region, and hope that you can make your way from one Marvine trail to the other without getting as lost as we did. Oh and bring a water purifier because I know we ran out of water on top of the plateau and had to stop at a stream to fill up.

backpacking
7 months ago

Absolutely incredible. Did it as a 3 day/2 night loop. Came from sea level (Boston), acclimated for 4 days in Denver and doing day hikes at 8-12k in Boulder and RMNP and the elevation on this hike DESTROYED me. I am in pretty excellent physical shape, but this hike was absolutely brutal. Didn't suffer from elevation sickness per se (no headaches or nausea or vomiting), but the ascents up the to the passes are so steep, I was sucking wind the entire time. If I had to do it again or did it with less masochistic people, I would take 4 days/3 nights and do 1 pass a day. Also for the photographers, i think the lighting is generally better if you do the hike in a CCW loop - beginning with the buckskin pass.

backpacking
7 months ago

Wow! I hiked this trail solo as my psuedo vision quest 8/27-8/31. the first day started at vallecito trailhead and ended at johnson creek junction. It was appx 9 miles and wasn't too difficult. Day 2 was from johnson creek / vallecito creek junction up the johnson creek trail to Columbine lake. This was when the lungs and legs were on fire. A ton of switchbacks and it was VERY warm that day. VERY IMPORTANT, at the second major creek crossing of johnson creek, load up with water because there is VERY little until you reach the lake. Day 3 was day hiking from Columbine lake as a base. Went up to columbine pass and then a few hours north to Jupiter Mtn. Great views of Vallecito basin and Chicago Basin the entire time. Days 4-5 were spend backtracking to route. While I saw lots of signs of bears, I never saw any actual bears. Plenty of elk and mule deer. overall great trip with tons of breathtaking sights along the way!

hiking
7 months ago

This trail is one for your bucket list. There is so much stunning beauty in the scenery, I should have taken 7 or 8 days to enjoy it instead of 4. I was on the trail late one day (6:15pm) and saw the biggest black bear I've ever seen outside of a zoo. Fortunately, it was more afraid of me than I of him, and he bolted before I could get a pic.

backpacking
7 months ago

Stunning,
We hiked this 8/19-21st CW as a 3 day/2 night loop.

Difficulty: on the Moderate side of Hard
Day 1 - Aspen to Fravert Basin: 12 miles, 4K vert. This was the longest of our days but was such an incredible day. We started hiking around 06:45 (upper lot was 3/4 full at that time) and got to camp by 14:00.
Water: Plenty of places to filter water before W Maroon Pass, there are a couple of streams between WM and Frigid Air Pass.
Camping: Don't take the first few camp spots in Favert, hike .5 mile further and there are killer spots near the falls! Temps were mid 30's at night brr.
Day 2- Fravert to SM lake: 8 miles, 2400' vert. Trail rider pass is steep AF, what are switchbacks again? There is a false summit before popping over TR pass so keep that in mind. BUT holy crap, snowmass lake is stunning from the top!
Water: There is plenty of water along this pass so don't freak out.
Camping: cross the river and there are secluded spots by the falls (site 24). Temps were low 40's and felt comfy.
Day 3 - SM Lake to Trailhead: 9 miles 1800' vert. Ahhh switchbacks, this was one of the most mellow climbs of the loop and our favorite. We got a chance to see the solar eclipse on the top of buckskin. What a memorable experience! This was a bitter sweet day, we wished there was another few days to continue on the loop. The miles flew by!

A little on us: We hike 15 miles comfortably and live at altitude so this loop was not too challenging. A typical day hike includes 4-5k of vert @ 12-13K. Now this would be a different story if you live at sea level or come from the flatlands. Of note-- Take altitude serious I have had numerous friends come from sea-level and attempt this with near deadly outcomes (no joke one buddy spent 2 weeks in the ICU with HAPE / HACE). These mountains do not care about you and will beat you up if you are not acclimated! With that being said if you are in shape this trip is a must and STUNNING!

backpacking
7 months ago

Sound of music views..... beautiful!!!!

It was an adventure of my lifetime!! Truly mind-blowing! We started going towards West Maroon Pass first, and I think it was the easier route because of elevation gains/loses. It took us 4 solid days which we thoroughly enjoyed! We saw 3 bears before West Maroon Pass, another was creeping at our campsite after Frigid Air Pass. We didn't feel any danger of them, though. The trail was clear, except the stick of a sign to go RIGHT to Frigid Air Pass. We missed it (some people were standing in front of the stick sign--which is a dumb idea for others passing back, duh). We caught some trout at Snowmass Lake that I'm thankful for...mountain house gets old fast haha! Plenty of water sources along the trail, even in August! The last day was incredibly challenging and rewarding, so be physically prepared. I'm so glad I had plenty of Advil. Also, trekking poles are super helpful for balance on the step and narrow switchbacks, but they also take the weight off your knees. I packed light--highly recommend you do too! Be physically fit! Also, it was FREEZING at night for me... make sure you've got a great sleeping bag 20' comfort level was comfortable for me--I get chilled easy.

backpacking
7 months ago

My son and I are thinking we would like to try this loop backpacking. Sept. 6-8th We are in good shape but haven't done a 14er do you think this would be too difficult for a 1st timer? Does anyone know how the weather has been, and if there is any snow?

one if our favorite hikes in this area. wild flowers on June are beautiful. we have seen kayakers run the river/stream along here when the water us high.

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