Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Loop

HARD 352 reviews

Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Loop is a 29.1 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Aspen, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, fishing, and backpacking and is best used from April until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 29.1 miles Elevation Gain: 7,933 feet Route Type: Loop

dogs on leash

backpacking

camping

fishing

hiking

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

over grown

rocky

scramble

snow

This classic 29.1 mile backpacking circuit around the spectacular Maroon Bells climbs four 12,000-ft. passes (West Maroon - 12,500 ft.; Frigid Air - 12,415 ft.; Trail Rider - 12,420 ft.; Buckskin - 12,500 ft.) and travels through some of the finest scenery in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness.

hiking
3 days ago

The bus brings you less than 5 minutes from the lake. Definitely plan on hitting some trails from Maroon Bell's proper. I had no idea this was such a desirable place to visit, I usually wander by word of mouth and direct recommendations. This is one of the most beautiful places and the magic mountain air is intoxicating.

hiking
10 days ago

The absolute most stunning hike I have done in Colorado. The trail is difficult and we did it in two days but definitely recommend four if you want to take it all in and take it easy. Each pass you go over provides totally different views all quite different from one another. Lots of camping sites available.

backpacking
bugs
rocky
snow
17 days ago

did this hike clockwise back in early august and absolutely loved it! definitely difficult in terms of incline and especially if you’re not used to high altitudes but totally worth the trip.

hiking
19 days ago

I completed this hike with a friend and our dogs last weekend. We chose to go clockwise so that we didn’t have to hike up the steep scree on day one. All I can say is it was one of the most beautiful backpacking trips I’ve ever done. Very challenging but very rewarding. Take your time and enjoy the scenery when you need a breath!

hiking
20 days ago

beautiful

I’d like to start this post with this is a hiking trail, not an off road trail. The lowest rated reviews are talking about a 4x4 road and this is not that trail! You park at the overnight parking lot and when that’s full park in aspen. Aspen highlands IS 25$ a day to park. Plan accordingly and get to the overnight parking lot early. This trail really pushed me to my limits. We went clockwise starting with west maroon pass and frigid air pass the first day. We definitely underestimated the elevation change on frigid air pass and ended up having to find a campsite in the dark. But the colors of the sun setting on the mountains as we descended into the valley were breathtaking. The second day we slept in a little and got going on trail rider pass. The ascent was hard! Certain spots the grade was more than 65% which kills your knees and hips but the view of Snowmass lake from the top made it all worth it. We camped right off the lake that night and got an awesome nights rest. The next morning we were up and out by 6am and hit the last pass, buckskin. We really took our time and our whole group enjoyed the last 9 miles of the trail. The trail and every pass was gorgeous. I will tell you we hated the last 2 miles back to the parking lot. I forgot how rocky the first part of the trail was

Experience of a lifetime hiking 4 Pass Loop!

hiking
rocky
26 days ago

The trail was a mix of loose rocks and pack dirt. The scenery was beautiful and well worth the effort. Don't forget your electrolytes and bring plenty of food. Remember to tighten your shoelaces on the down hills. You will see people every day either day hiking or doing the entire trail. Do good research on camp locations because it will help you plan your trip.

hiking
rocky
snow
1 month ago

hiking
rocky
1 month ago

backpacking
1 month ago

Did this trip starting 9/11/2019 and finished 9/14/2019. We went clockwise. Snowed on us the first night several miles from West Maroon Pass. Then for the next 3 days it was just beautiful during the day and 30 at night. Met 3 groups of 2 or 3 that were abandoning their Loop dreams for a variety of reasons. Having too heavy a pack was one notable theme. We had three nights of the best campsites ever, including an epic night 3 at Snowmass Lake. Hanging by that lake all afternoon was the best day of my life. We didn't have trouble with altitude and we came from Charleston, SC. We did spend one night before starting our trek at Silver Queen Campground. THE THING THAT IMPRESSED ME THE MOST: How free of litter this whole trail was. You Colorado folks do a great job of LNT. I mean it was immaculate in the back country campsites. Not the tiniest of wrappers was to be found. Super impressive considering the use this trail gets. Had an interesting encounter with the rock slide below Buckskin Pass but it turned out just fine with only a minor delay for a map check. Another group of 2 that we ran into frequently on our route got turned around at the slide and spent about an hour trying to figure it out. I can sure see that happening easily enough. Can't thank you enough Colorado! Met some really fine people from Crested Butte.

hiking
1 month ago

Sublime views, trail in mostly great shape. A few spots where avalanches have reshaped the trail. Plenty of amazing camping sites near trail and plentiful water. Be cautious on the log bridge between trail rider and buckskin. It’s in bad shape.

hiking
1 month ago

Had 4 days planned stopped on top of trail rider pass talked to 4 Minnesota dudes keeping it solid so I throw on my pack to head to buckskin trail head to camp and my rite pack strap snaps so now my frame is digging in my left shoulder and decided to hike out on my 3rd day 14.3 on trail another 3 on road and got a hitch out hands down awesome trip even the lows kept a smile on my face definitely tested the man card highly recommend!

backpacking
1 month ago

I haven’t been on that many hiking trips, unless you count glamping as one, but this is by far the best experience of my life. It sounded great on paper when my buddy and I started discussing the logistics of this trip. Part of me knew that this was going to be brutal, but my optimism triumphed and we ended up at the Maroon lake on a Monday morning. We did the loop clockwise and I seriously believe that if your knees are bad and if you have had minimal or no training, then you should also do this loop clockwise. I realized it when I was descending from buckskin pass that it would be a lot of stress on your body for a first day hike. First day- no passes hikes to Second day- Maroon west and frigid air pass Third day- trail rider pass Fourth day - buckskin pass Each day of the hiking will be scenic and make sure you turn around and look at what you are leaving behind. Not only are you enjoying what you are working so hard for, but the views give you the energy and morale to reach that pass. Take you time and hike on your own pace. Develop a breathing pattern and stick to it. Pushing yourself will only make matters worse. Remember that you are there to enjoy the hike and not to push yourself to your limits. If you think you are lagging, tell your friend or group to keep hiking and promise to meet again at the pass. But make sure they are within sight or at least within the reach of your whistle if it gets to that. Best part of the hike was definitely out hike from trail rider pass to snow mass lake. We stopped plenty of time take pictures and just stand there in awe of the surroundings. I highly recommend camping by the snow mass lake and taking a plunge in the icy cold lake. But don’t stay in for too long or you will get hypothermia like my friend did. Fortunately it was sunny and we tackled it on time so that it didn’t get any worse. But he did catch cold after that. So be careful. Last pass was buckskin and it was a decent ascent from snow mass lake. It was only when we started descending we realized that we were right in not choosing to do this loop counterclockwise. It was a continuous descent for us from the pass, but imagine doing this in the opposite direction. No thanks. We did see more people struggling to summit this pass than other three passes. Long story short: my take away Enjoy the view, especially when you are panting and gasping for more air at 12,000 ft elevation. Bring airborne for those sudden drop and rise in temperature. That can make you sick real quick. Electrolyte packets are great during ascents, especially when you need that extra gas for the last leg of the ascent to a pass. Don’t be shy to bring food you like within reasonable expectations. Food is a big component of the trip and you need to enjoy what you bring. Trekking poles are a must if you want to do more of these hikes and have mercy on your knees, especially when you are coming down. Most importantly, don’t forget to shout “kyi kyi so so lha gyal lo” on the top every time you conquer a pass.

backpacking
1 month ago

Hello! We went counterclockwise on this trail. It was amazing and I would highly recommend doing it that way. Me and my group very much enjoyed it. We hiked about 10 miles the first day and camped at snowmass lake. Absolutely beautiful. The next day we did a more relaxing day only hikinh about 7 miles and camping near a waterfall. The last day we hiked over frigid air pass and west maroon pass hiking about 11 miles. I didnt have poles but my friend did and I would reccomend them on this hike. It was challenging and the wildflowers were the perfect reward! I very much enjoyed this hike and I hope you do too!

hiking
rocky
1 month ago

Tough but insanely worth it.

hiking
1 month ago

Completed clockwise over 3 days 2 nights. Hard trail, especially with a 30lb pack, but so beautiful the whole way! 10/10 views, wildflowers, lakes, loved everything about this hike!

hiking
1 month ago

Made the trip counterclockwise 8/22 -8/25 with three good days on the trail. This was perfect for taking in the many vistas and left time for a little fishing as well. Lakes and stream were very refreshing when you take the time to put your head under. Never forget such an epic hike with three good friends. If you are thinking about this trip, do it!

hiking
rocky
snow
1 month ago

The most challenging hike I've ever taken. Yes, this was only my second time, but 4 days, 30 miles, scaling mountains, navigating the ever changing weather, oh, and NEVER acclimating to the altitude... what an experience!

hiking
bugs
rocky
1 month ago

I would rate this trail as excellent. We did it in three days which made for a three pass day yesterday. Finished Buckskin today. Definitely tests your mettle. If you want more detail fee free to reach out to me on Insta at Mountaineer97. Epic trip!

backpacking
1 month ago

This was by far the most beautiful place I have ever been. Mountains and wildflowers galore. I did this backpacking trip over labor day weekend. I took two days to complete the loop, but when I do this again, I will take 4 days to do it because there are so many beautiful backcountry sites to camp at. I did this trip counter clockwise. Completed Buckskin and Trail Rider Pass on day one. I set up camp at the start of the fravert basin, which led to a beautiful morning walking through the basin on day 2. A note for everyone, when coming up from the basin past the large waterfall to frigid air pass, the trail is covered by some trees (I assume from an avalanche). You will need to scramble a bit here. Completed Frigid Air and West Maroon and back to the shuttle on day 2. I was most a fan of Buckskin pass and Snowmass lake, but honestly, it is all a dream with its awe inspiring beauty. Plenty of places to filter water along the way. Bring water shoes for the river crossings. I am glad I had hiking poles as the down climbs were dry when I went. If you are even considering this backpacking loop, please just do it, you won't regret it. I will absolutely be back.

hiking
1 month ago

Did this clockwise 8/31 - 9/3. Absolutely beautiful and highly recommend. Daily mileage (about): 7.7, 7.5, 7.1, 6.8. 4 days was pretty leisurely, at camp by ~4p each day with a ~9a start time. Can def be done in 3 days. Water is pretty accurate on All Trails map.

hiking
1 month ago

awesome awesome awesome. great views worth every minute!

So worth it the experience so far has been on par did maroon and frigid pass no words how hard of a climb getting to the cutoff trail rider got over ten on the day camping here!

Load More

Featured Trails