Four Pass Loop this August


Jan 23, 2013
Hi, I've got a group of guys wanting to do the Four Pass Loop over around the Maroon Bells this August. Unfortunately, I'm expecting lots of people, but we can deal with that. We are a pretty well seasoned group, but anybody have any advice on conditions, logistics, gear, direction, etc? If anyone in the SLC area has done this, I'd love to take you to lunch and talk over your experience.

Nobody done this or have advice?

I did this trip last July with my son. It is really beautiful. I'm new to this site and am just figuring out how to use it, but I'll attach a few pics and give you some beta.

This is a really popular trip. Very beautiful, mostly above treeline. Bring your camera!

We did the trip in 3 days, not too difficult to do so. The loop we did was 31 miles (we took a short detour to Geneva Lake). We camped about 5 miles up from Crater Lake the first night. Lots of porcupines in our camp and all over that drainage (West Maroon Creek), I would not recommend camping there, they kept us up all night digging around our packs for salt. Hiked over Maroon Pass and Frigid Air pass next morning and hiked all the way to Geneva Lake. There is a very steep uphill for about 3 miles before Trail Rider Pass, it was really unpleasant in the heat of the afternoon. The hike down from Trail Rider to Snowmass Lake is unbelievably pretty. We hiked from Geneva Lake over Trail Rider and Buckskin passes and back to the starting point at Crater Lake.

Colorado is very prone to afternoon lightning. Be sure to hike as early as you can to avoid being above timberline by 1 PM or so. This a popular trip, you'll see a fair amount of traffic on the trail. Next time I go, I will plan to start really early (4 or 5 AM), hike up over Maroon Pass, over Frigid Air, and then camp in the trees in the Fravert Basin. That would be a long 15 miles or so, but it would be possible for a fit hiker. If the weather turned, you could hike down to the trees between Maroon Pass and Frigid Air, that would be a mile or so detour, not too bad. Geneva Lake was nice campsite and not crowded, I'd probably camp there 2nd night and hike out from there. Snowmass Lake is very crowded. You could do this in 4 or 5 days and have a very comfortable time, you'd just have to plan well to be in the trees by the afternoon.

Here is a link to a trip report (not my own) that you might find useful.

2013-07-09 08.56.45.jpg 2013-07-08 20.28.10.jpg 2013-07-10 11.29.08.jpg 2013-07-08 19.56.25.jpg
I did this trip last July with my son. It is really beautiful. I'm new to this site and am just figuring out how to use it, but I'll attach a few pics and give you some beta.

Exactly what I was looking for! We will probably do it in 4 days or maybe even 5. I had heard about the thunderstorms, but I hadn't thought about planning campsites quite so carefully.

Thanks, Kwooley!
When I did the 26 mile loop many years 3 days...we passed a few people training for whatever it is those crazy fit people train for over there around Aspen. They were doing this hike in a day. The record is 4 hours, 26 minutes, so that's something to shoot for.....
Expect lots of people. But it is incredibly beautiful and worth doing.
I have not done the whole loop, just sections surrounding Crater, Willow lake and Buckskin Pass. I have found if you pick the right time of year, maybe a little earlier or later in the season in the middle of the week (you will need to deal with some snow), you will find a lot less people. If you get to the gate at Maroon Bells before 8am you can drive up to the parking area at Maroon Lake and avoid a pain in the ass shuttle. I can't emphasize enough how dangerous this route can be in bad weather. There is no cover over large sections of the route as it is above treeline. I have had thunder in the morning and sunshine in the early afternoon, and the next day the opposite can happen. Very unpredictable.
I think Kwooley pretty much covered it.
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