Explore the most popular birding trails in Maroon Bells Snowmass Wilderness with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

27 days ago

Lots of people- but so so pretty!!

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!

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

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!

5 months ago

Lots of animal tracks. No people.

5 months ago

At the peak, you get a clear view of the Maroon Bells, along with a panoramic view of 14ers and 13ers. Probably my favorite hike so far!

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.

6 months ago

Hiked it on 11/03/17. Washington Gulch road was muddy and packed snow, but made it to the top ok.
A few inches of snow on the trail most of the way. Impossible to see trail if not for previous person's tracks, which stopped near the end of the forest. Up the ridge, it was entirely uncharted, and the snow drifts sometimes rose as high as 15 inches. Snowshoes would have been helpful, but made it with just microspikes and poles. Almost say it was easier this way than in the summer, since the steep dirt / gravel is actually more slippery. Gorgeous views at the top of course, CB, Whetstone, the Bells, Ruby, Baldy, etc.

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

7 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.

7 months ago

For the sea level dwellers, this is a hard hike! The terrain is easy to traverse however the elevation presents some difficulty. All in all take your time, the view is worth the breathlessness!

Not technically hard, but climbing straight up the side of a ski area isn't exactly easy either, especially at 8000 feet. The views were totally worth it though. We went the first weekend in October so the foliage was perfect

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

7 months ago

Such a wonderful hike! Beautiful views throughout, moderately challenging, with quite a bit of wildlife (mule deer, marmot, pica, birds/hawks). It was pretty snowy while hiking over the pass, so make sure to bring at least poles +/- crampons. Make sure to get transportation EARLY through Dolly's or Alpine Express, as they run out of permits weeks/months ahead of your trip ($20 each way/person). The Aspen to CB hike is much harder than the way back, so I would recommend going from Aspen to CB, staying a few nights to enjoy the charm of CB, and hike back. You can get a shuttle to take you back or transport your car to CB from Aspen, but I think this is a waste of money and a missed opportunity to enjoy an absolutely beautiful hike. It is about 2/3 downhill on the way back, and much easier than the way to CB. Don't be lazy, finish the loop, and hike back :)

As an aside, rent a hardtail mountain bike and do the Lupine Trail to the Lower Loop trail. Such an awesome ride with gorgeous scenery throughout! It took me a couple hours, but I stopped to take a bunch of pictures. I rented a bike up at the Elevation Hotel for $35/half day (maybe a bit more expensive than in town, but higher up the hill and closer to the trail). Throw your bike on the free shuttle that goes through town and up the hill, and do it a few times if you wish!

Happy hiking!

Beautiful trail! Heads up at the first creek crossing....easily missed. Just check your map. Trail is well/heavily traveled so it is noticeably obvious except in the scree.
Highly recommend *

7 months ago

Did this hike about a week ago and it was just beautiful!
We started our hike at around 07:45 am at Maroon Lake Parking Area. There were quite a few people around Maroon Lake taking pictures of Maroon Bells in the morning sun which was just stunning. The trail to Crater Lake seems to be very popular as well but after that you won't see too many people anymore. The trail itself is not very steep but it is a constant incline and that combined with the mileage makes for a pretty significant hike. We usually hike at a very relaxed pace so this hike took us about 8.5 hrs to complete and needless to say I was very happy to be back at the car! That being said, the scenery is incredible all the way to the pass (and back of course) and I highly recommend the hike!

Just one more tip: If you plan on camping at one of the campsites on Maroon Creek Road and didn't make a reservation online you better be there early (they start giving away the few walk up spots at 7am)! When we got there in the afternoon every single campsite around Aspen was completely full with a lot of people driving around trying to get a spot so keep that in mind.

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.

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.

Lots of fun if you like loose rock.

Heads up- "bear canister REQUIREMENT".

Such a great hike. High altitude elevation gain, alpine lake, alpine drainage. It just goes on and on. 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. We had wildflowers and autumn colors. It's a big day but so spectacular.

Even though we walked this the first weekend of September, the wildflowers in the Meadows were still in bloom. It is a great hike with mountain views and generally good signage. One note: we missed the turn to cross to the west bank of the river, so be sure to review the end-to-end route. We hiked Aspen to CB and once we left Crater Lake, we only saw a few other hikers. The rating is entirely about elevation gain, as the trail itself is only challenging for short sections in the primary ascent to the pass.

This was a beautiful trail and definitely a good workout! We did this trail Aug 11-12. We started in Aspen and camped overnight just past Crater Lake. We hiked the rest of the trail in the morning and got to the trailhead in Crested Butte around 2 pm. If you're not planning on hiking back, ARRANGE A SHUTTLE AHEAD OF TIME! The drive from Crested Butte to Aspen is 3 hours. We tried to use Dollys shuttle service to transport us from Crested Butte back to Aspen but never received a call back. We called multiple times and left several voicemails but never once received a call back from Dolly's. I emailed the owner to tell him about the poor customer service and he was very rude. I would not recommend them, however, there are not a lot of other options so do your research ahead of time. Overall beautiful trail. Tough and muddy in spots but the views are worth it. The wildflowers on the Crested Butte side where absolutely beautiful.

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.

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!

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

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