This loop route can be done in either direction. You may find it more fun to ascend Cats Eye’s class 2 & 3 south ridge and wish to go that way. I will present the route going up Cats Eye’s east face and then down the ridge.
Map: Snowmass Mtn, CO, 7.5 minute quadrangle
Weather ConsiderationThis entire route is above treeline or is devoid of trees, exposing you to the full brunt of whatever the skies decide throw at you. For this reason you want to make sure that the weather looks like it will cooperate during your entire hike. This area would not be a good area to be stuck in during a lightning storm.
Route DescriptionLeave FR 315 at the sharp curve at Silver Creek and start hiking up the drainage towards Cats Eye. There are trails in the area that can be followed along the way. Meet up with the trail that climbs up to the pass to the northeast of Cats Eye. After leaving the trail hike up to the summit of Cats Eye. The hiking along this stretch is class 2.
From the summit, descend the south ridge and follow it as it hooks to the east. The going along this ridge need not exceed class 3 scrambling. Once off the ridge, find your way to the gentle saddle between the end of the ridge and Arkansas Mountain. Hike up and over Arkansas. This section is trail-less class 1. Descend Arkansas’ southeast ridge and meet back up with the road.
Essential GearThe standard mountain hiking gear will suffice. Be sure to bring your camera as this is a very scenic tour.