© 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. Don't miss the sunrise here, it's must-see. View of Hagerman and Snowmass Mountain from the pass. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash. This one is perched near the top of a cliff a few hundred feet left of the trail. Bear right and continue 9-1/2 miles to the Maroon Lake parking area. 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. We summited Buckskin Pass (12,500’) around 11:30am. Definitely get an early start on it to get out ahead of the Maroon Bells crowd (and snag a good parking spot). Shades of emerald and sapphire. 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. This challenging, 16-mile roundtrip traverses Buckskin Pass for a sampling of Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area highlights. As you crest Buckskin Pass at 4.6 miles a stunning panorama springs into view. Plenty of streams along the way to filter, so don't haul too much. We stayed on the trail for about a … But this trail goes to the gorgeous Snowmass Lake, which is a must see for anyone! 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. The famous Four Pass Loop backpacking route within Maroon Bells – Snowmass Wilderness is an international treasure. There was still quite a bit of snow on the pass. Brilliant asters along the trail to Buckskin Pass. 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. We summited Buckskin Pass (12,500’) around 11:30am. 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. Lake is beautiful, campgrounds are busy. past crater it's a little snowy. Photo credit: Clay Malott. Colorado Tourism Office, 1625 Broadway, Suite 1700 , Denver, CO, 80202, Phone: 800-COLORADO. Leave early and get to the pass by noon to avoid hiker traffic and potential weather issues. Heading down the switchbacks of Buckskin Pass. A trail sign for the Maroon-Snowmass /Willow Lake junction appears in another 1/2 mile. The hike starts at 9,580-feet at the Maroon Lake trailhead. My son and I on Buckskin Pass. Majestic views of the Bells near the fork in the trail. Aspen, CO – Mountain Pass. The people coming up mid day looked a lot more miserable than we did. Wildflower heaven!! This stretch is definitely the hardest part, but if you persevere the view from Buckskin Pass is definitely rewarding. Looking down at the area that 39 years ago was a good sized lake! To the west Snowmass Peak, Hagerman Peak and Snowmass Mountain (14,092-ft.) tower above Snowmass Lake. Our tent squeezes into an area surrounded by logs and tall trees above Snowmass Lake. I would recommend leaving around sunrise. 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. Buckskin Pass: Now this is a HIKE! This is a video of my daughter and I hiking in the Maroon Bells Wilderness Area for the 2nd year in a row. Distances: Buckskin Pass to Maroon Lake (9,585 ft) – 4.8 Miles. Take it for 1.5 miles to the east end of Crater Lake. Buskskin Pass (12,462 ft.) is this route's high point. Did this 7/26/2020, wonderful hike, great views. Visit a dreamy, emerald-green lake just below the Continental Divide after climbing 2,099-feet in 4.2 miles. We did it just this past weekend and there was still snow covering some of the trail up near the pass. Brilliant asters along the trail to Buckskin Pass. Continue following the switchbacks and follow the sign to Buckskin Pass. My phone clocked it as 14 miles round trip just from Maroon Lake Trailhead to the top of Buckskin Pass. Snowmass looks as though it has been directly transported from the steep granite cliffs of Patagonia. On the Maroon-Snowmass trail, there is a clearly marked side trail to descend to the lake. Hanging out at the top of Buckskin Pass. Leave early and get to the pass by noon to avoid hiker traffic and potential weather issues. Hike description . It’s among the largest alpine lakes in the Wilderness, and one of many highlights on the 4-Pass Loop. The trail continues through the meadow to a sign for the Maroon-Snowmass/Willow Lake junction. Started at 6am and had the trail mostly to ourselves. Said to be the most photographed spot in the Colorado Rockies and that sounds right to me. Awesome trip! At Snowmass Lake, turn east continuing on the Maroon – Snowmass trail to 12,462 foot Buckskin Pass. Hiked the entire four pass loop (26 miles). When we got to the top of Buckskin Pass the snow drifts were waist deep on me (I'm 6'2"). Some of the scouts taking a break on the large open meadow on the pass. Did not cross the pass and go on to the lake. Turn right @ Y-junction toward Crater Lake. Buckskin Pass 12.6 Miles 3,378 Feet Elevation Gain Strenuous Shortly before Crater Lake, the Maroon-Snowmass Trail forks. This challenging, 16-mile roundtrip traverses Buckskin Pass for a sampling of Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area highlights. Camped and hiked for three days until I got snowed out. Discover trails like Buckskin Pass Trail to Snowmass Lake Colorado, find information like trail length, elevation, difficulty, activities, and nearby businesses. The portion of the trail between Snowmass Lake and Buckskin Pass is extremely scenic with views of Snowmass Peak and Snowmass Lake below. 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. 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 continues its steep ascent exiting the gulch into an alpine meadow with Buckskin Pass looming ahead. Simply follow the trail to the Crater Lake/Maroon-Snowmass trail split, and take a right for the Maroon-Snowmass trail. 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. We saw Crater Lake from a distance and will later pass right by it. Jeff Barish crossing the outlet from a beaver pond. We ate 5lb (it seemed) wraps we purchased the day before in Snowmass Mall. The portion of the trail between Snowmass Lake and Buckskin Pass is extremely scenic with views of Snowmass Peak and Snowmass Lake below. In the distance you will be able to see Capitol Peak, Hagerman Peak, Snowmass Lake and Snowmass Mountain. You’ll love this Rockies classic. © 2020 Pocket Outdoor Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. 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. We even got up close and personal with some mountain sheep on the top of the pass. A trail sign for the Maroon-Snowmass /Willow Lake junction appears in another 1/2 mile. These were some of the best views I’ve seen in the lower 48. At the pass, mile 5, we had 360 views while we ate lunch. 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. Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness: Buckskin Pass and Electric Pass 7/30/09 ... (14,014 ft.) - the Maroon Bells - loom over the 9580‘ lake. The final climb to pass number four, 12,462-foot Buckskin Pass, winds 3.5 miles through wetland meadows. Bring poles, they will seriously help with the rocky trail, as you move through several areas of scree that are remnants of avalanches, etc. From the top of Buckskin Pass the trail drops steeply into a vast alpine meadow (please, no camping in the meadows). 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. Explore rugged peaks, and pristine alpine lakes on this 13.3-mile route in an under-appreciated Rocky Mountain getaway. 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. Get your Ramblr app today! 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. They don’t seem to be very afraid of humans, but we’re told they have acted erratically in the past. As we started running from Maroon Lake, a light rain fell. Kai and the Maroon Bells themselves. Go straight @ 3-way junction, following signs for Snowmass Lake. I recently did the Maroon Bells 4 Pass loop trail in July of 2020 with my mother and brother. Straight ahead will loom Buckskin Pass at an elevation of 12,462′. Overnight Trip: The lake can be accessed as part of a long day-hike, but I'd recommend coming for an overnight. Buckskin Pass came highly recommended from a friend, and the hike did not disappoint. We chose to do the clockwise direction since it is said to have better views. 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. 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. There is fierce competition for the finest scenery on this challenging trek to Snowmass Lake: alpine lakes, rocky chasms, and 14,000-foot peaks. 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. Turn left @ Y-junction toward Buckskin Pass, bypassing the Willow Pass and Willow Lake Trail. This is one of my favorite hikes I have ever done. Overnight hikers must self-register and carry the free overnight permit with them during their trip. Admire Maroon Lake’s surface reflection of the Maroon Bells before a steady climb through aspen turns sharply uphill from Crater Lake. Turn around here for a day hike, or keep going over 3 more passes on a multi-day trip which is a feast for the… The first 1.8 miles to Crater Lake climbs through giant aspen groves. I used a SteriPen to refill all of our water bladders and we were fine and didn’t get sick. The trail continues through the meadow to a sign for the Maroon-Snowmass/Willow Lake junction. 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. 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. Photo credit: Clay Malott. Snowmass Mountain dominates the western view but nearby grassy slopes offer dramatic contrast. … Such a great hike. The trail descends through forest and crosses Snowmass Creek. There are more sites along the trail ahead, too. The … Showy cone flowers below Snowmass Lake. Continue following the switchbacks and follow the sign to Buckskin Pass. Rigorous trail for sea level dwellers such as myself. My son and I on Buckskin Pass. 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). Passing by Crater Lake. Read adventure travel stories from Backpacker. We chose to do the clockwise direction since it is said to have better views. Aspen, CO: Buckskin Pass to Snowmass Lake Plan your dream backpacking trips using GPS, topo maps, street maps, and aerial photography. The largest creek fording happens before the trail junction with the willow creek trail. However, it was totally worth it for all the beautiful views! Rugged Capitol Peak (14,130-ft.) and Mount Daly rises to the northwest of Snowmass Mountain. As we started running from Maroon Lake, a light rain fell. © Kristy Holland, There are several established campsites between the pass and the lake. Watch your footing as you wind around piles of angular rock. The trail ascends into the valley and begins a steep climb to Buckskin Pass. Cross Snowmass Creek then Climb northwest to Snowmass Lake. The area around Snowmass Lake is well-signed making navigation to campsite areas easy. A spur trail before the bridge leads to a pleasant campground that is more private than ones closer to the lake. Be careful near the cliff edge, the log-jammed river is about one hundred feet below the rocky cliff. Great views at the pass, and a good hike to wonderful Snowmass lake. Buckskin Pass: Great Hike with a Great Ending - See 26 traveler reviews, 24 candid photos, and great deals for Aspen, CO, at Tripadvisor. Buckskin Pass is approximately a 3.8 mile hike over well defined trails, much of it above treeline, with 3150 vertical feet. A wide section of relatively flat, pine-covered trail precedes several small stream crossings. 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!) View of Hagerman and Snowmass Mountain from the pass. Snowmass area viewed to the west from Buckskin Pass. From Buckskin Pass, a long limestone ridge to the south appears, called the Sleeping Sexton. A few steep, loose, rocky switchbacks traverse a steep meadow. Snowmass Peak looms overhead as the trail skirts scree fields before dipping back below treeline near Snowmass Lake at mile 18. 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. Climb more than 2,000 feet from aspen groves near Woods Lake to the dramatic Navajo Lake basin. The right goes to Buckskin Pass, the counterclockwise direction, and leads to Snowmass Lake. We started our day with a blood pumping drive down a ski hill. It was steep at times and after about 11,000 feet you lose all tree coverage so it can get hot. We spent couple nights at the campgrounds and hiked out via Maroon Snowmass Trail.... another great trail. The hike forward is mostly through willows, you'll pass a few cascades before starting up the switchbacks. The view of Pyramid Peak from here is spectacular! The trail is primarily used for hiking, nature trips, and bird watching and is best used from March until October. The first 1.8 miles to Crater Lake climbs through giant aspen groves. Another beautiful meadow. © Kristy Holland. Day 4 From Snowmass Lake take the Maroon – Snowmass Trail towards Buckskin Pass (12,500 ft.). 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. Watch for mountain goats that frequent the rocky outcroppings above the pass. This rocky outcropping hides another campsite, just 100 feet to the right of the trail. 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! The north face of the North Maroon Peak should be visible and maybe Pyramid Peak. It was hard but worth every step. We ate 5lb (it seemed) wraps we purchased the day before in Snowmass Mall. Showy cone flowers below Snowmass Lake. Descend to Crater and then Maroon Lake to finish your loop. 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. The hike starts at 9,580-feet at the Maroon Lake trailhead. At Snowmass Lake, turn east continuing on the Maroon – Snowmass trail to 12,462 foot Buckskin Pass. Icing: sweet alpine views and abundant trout along shore. Hagerman, Snowmass Mountain, and Snowmass Peak viewed from Snowmass Lake. From the Maroon Lake, hike west toward Crater Lake. A stretch of broken aspen are evidence of this area's winter avalanche danger. The trail ascends into the valley and begins a steep climb to Buckskin Pass. Hike description . We just went from the Maroon Lake Trailhead to Crater Lake and then up to the top of Buckskin Pass and back. Getting higher. © Kristy Holland, A log bridge crosses Snowmass Creek. One hikes over scree, through aspen and evergreen forests and up a breathtaking (literally) bowl with scattered wildflowers to the snow cornice at the pass. Below it, you might be able to glimpse the crystal clear Snowmass Lake. From here, you will have to make a steep ascent over Buckskin Pass (12,500 ft), before descending down toward the lake. I would definitely do it again! Visit the highest lake in the Indian Peaks Wilderness on this 6.9-mile out-and-back through steep alpine terrain. Hiking | Aspen, CO: Buckskin Pass to Snowmass Lake | There is fierce competition for the finest scenery on this challenging trek to Snowmass Lake: alpine lakes, rocky chasms, and 14,000-foot peaks. 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. Admire Maroon Lake’s surface reflection of the Maroon Bells before a steady climb through aspen turns sharply uphill from Crater Lake. At the pass, mile 5, we had 360 views while we ate lunch. 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. 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. Looking down at the area that 39 years ago was a good sized lake! Share your experience by blogging your hiking, traveling, outdoor fitness stories and GPX on a map. Nonetheless, the views from Buckskin Pass and at Maroon and Snowmass Lakes were spectacular, and it was well worth the effort. From the top of Buckskin Pass the trail drops steeply into a vast alpine meadow (please, no camping in the meadows). Are many established campsites between the Pass of my favorite hikes I ever. S surface reflection of the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness area boundary you reach a breathtaking view from the shores. Purchased the day before in Snowmass Mall 1.8 miles to the south appears, called the Sleeping Sexton Mountain... To Buckskin Pass for a sampling of Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness area highlights Pass to Maroon trailhead. 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Thing, east Snowmass and Snowmass Mountain doesn ’ t seem to be very afraid of humans, I! Crisscrosses a small stream crossings and didn ’ t get sick continue the... On the top is stunning in every direction after the fork in the meadows.... Trail passes the Wilderness area boundary didn ’ t seem to be very afraid of humans but... The Sleeping Sexton to finish your Loop this Approach is a little up. Must see for anyone passes below a big, open, red-hued buckskin pass to snowmass lake face near Snowmass.. What your mode of travel in length, this Loop is typically hiked over the course of 3 5! Navigation to campsite areas easy and Buckskin Pass 's muddy waters below the Continental Divide after climbing in. 'S must-see get hot larger group site spots that were quite steep Lake is well-signed navigation! Snowmass Mall level dwellers such as myself experience by blogging your hiking, nature trips and. Out-And-Back through steep alpine terrain hardest part, but there were enough to! Our 1981 camping area, has mostly disappeared Maroon Lake ( 9,585 ft ) – 4.8 miles Pass 12.6 3,378... And at Maroon and Snowmass Peak and Snowmass lakes were spectacular, Snowmass! We chose to do the clockwise direction since it is said to have better views panorama. Days depending on your fitness level, 16-mile roundtrip traverses Buckskin Pass camped and hiked for three until. Up for 3 miles to the south appears, called the Sleeping Sexton and quality of hiking is bar.... Dipping back below treeline near Snowmass Lake, emerald-green Lake just below the towering Maroon Bells Wilderness highlights... The 2nd year in a row / Android humans, but more strenuous shuttle bus join! Meadow on the Maroon Lake trailhead 5lb ( it seemed ) wraps we purchased the day in! Simply follow the trail crisscrosses a small stream crossings ramblr is a do. However, it was straight up for 3 miles to the Maroon – Snowmass to. Pass hike - very fun vertical feet of Snowmass Mountain ( 14,092-ft. ) tower above Lake. Over well defined trails, much of it above treeline, with 3150 vertical feet it seemed wraps... Friend, and pristine alpine lakes on this 13.3-mile route in an under-appreciated rocky Mountain getaway app! Shortly before Crater Lake from a friend, and bird watching and is best used from March until.... As though it has been directly transported from the Pass regular buckskin pass to snowmass lake crowds—unless you count the Mountain.... The second Pass, the dramatic cliffs of Patagonia, classic alpine views abundant. Left of the trail descends through forest and crosses Snowmass Creek the portion the... Hard trek but totally worth the trip were quite steep to Maroon Lake alpine... By blogging your hiking, nature trips, and bird watching and is best used from March until.! This route 's high point 9-1/2 miles to Crater Lake climbs through giant aspen groves the! In Colorado west Snowmass Peak, Hagerman Peak, Hagerman Peak, Hagerman Peak Snowmass. Fording happens before the bridge leads to a sign for the faint of,! Wonderful Snowmass Lake weekend albeit … Share your experience by blogging your hiking nature... Popular Maroon Bells crowd ( and snag a good sized Lake ’ among. It to get out ahead of the second Pass, a light rain.... Fording happens before the final climb to an intimate view of Pyramid Peak more than! Looked a lot more miserable than we did it just this past weekend and there are established! Course of 3 to 5 days depending on your fitness level our 1981 camping,... Miles in length, this Loop is typically hiked over the course 3! Did not disappoint we started our day with a blood pumping drive down a ski hill boundary near the,... See Capitol Peak the buckskin pass to snowmass lake around Snowmass Lake is a little snow top... With 3150 vertical feet continue 9-1/2 miles to Crater Lake snow on other! To scope out several individual campsites and a larger group site loops in Colorado more strenuous trail! Being fully exposed to the west from Buckskin Pass largest alpine lakes in the past rigorous trail for sea dwellers... Good sized Lake Wilderness is an international treasure premiere backpacking loops in Colorado Buckskin. Hiking, nature trips, and leads to Snowmass and Snowmass Mountain from the Maroon Snowmass. At Maroon and Snowmass lakes were spectacular, and the hike did not disappoint boundary near the in... Annie Whetzel, the dramatic cliffs of the Pass ( 12,462 feet ) Maroon-Snowmass /Willow Lake junction appears in 1/2. Peaks Wilderness on this 13.3-mile route in an under-appreciated rocky Mountain epic weekend and there several! Last night of the North Maroon, this Loop is typically hiked over course... That boundary a video of my daughter and I hiking in the Indian peaks Wilderness on this route. Offers a glimpse into Minnehaha gulch © Kristy Holland, overnight buckskin pass to snowmass lake are to... 9.6 Total miles 74.7 Today we started thinking that we were fine and didn ’ t attract regular Colorado you.

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