Four Pass Loop in Pictures

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Location Lat/Lon: 39.08957°N / 107.01096°W
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Jul 25, 2009
Activities Activities: Hiking
Seasons Season: Summer
Page best viewed in widescreen...otherwise the pictures might look very spaced out!

The Four Pass Loop

What I wish to do in this page is simply bring the reader on a picture tour of the Four Pass Loop, as completed by my wife and I last summer. We hiked it clockwise, which is opposite to how most people do it, but to us it seemed the sensible way to complete the trek. Please enjoy!

The trip got out to a rocky start...

The Four Pass Loop Begins...Here we are, ready to head into the unknown...
Wet TentAfter hiking in to Crater Lake in an unforeseen downpour, we were forced to pitch our tent in the semi-dark and wait out several thunderstorms overnight...welcome to Colorado!

Day II

But the next morning showed promise!

Crater LakeSunny morning the next day!
West Maroon ValleyHeading up the valley towards the first pass: West Maroon Pass

The Maroon BellsThe view of those beautiful Bells from below
West Maroon PassApproaching West Maroon Pass from below.

West Maroon PassLooking north from atop the pass. The red rock is beautiful!
Victory on West Maroon PassVictory #1


Once we got through the first pass, rain started to rear its ugly head...

Between passes...Looking down between West Maroon and Frigid Air passes
Treasure MountainBetween passes...rain's a'comin!

Storm CloudsThese two shots show how fast the clouds were moving over the mountains.
More Storm CloudsNo rain/lightning/thunder/wind but still scary and dark!

Frigid Air PassNear the top of the pass it started sprinkling
Frigid Air PassThe top of Frigid Air Pass.

Frigid Air PassVictory #2
Flowers atop Frigid AirSome flowers atop a rock. From here we descended and found a soggy campsite...

We scrambled down from the pass and found a campsite as quickly as we could, above a large waterfall.


The next morning was beautiful, and we headed for Trail Rider Pass.

North Fork Crystal RiverThe next morning (thank God) was beautiful
WaterfallAn apparently unnamed waterfall that we camped about 1/4 mile above.

Maroon BellsA nice view of the valley we were ascending to the pass
Trailrider PassThe trails in this area are slightly confusing, and this sign was a pleasant reminder.

Trail Rider PassFinally, after a long morning of climbing, we got a glimpse of the pass
Trail Rider PassI have to admit: this climb almost did us in!

Treasure MountainLooking south from the top of Trail Rider Pass
Snowmass LakeSnowmass Lake from the pass, our intended campsite for the night

Snowmass BasinThe upper reaches of the Snowmass basin.
Trail Rider PassVictory #3

From there, we descended to our beautiful campsite for the night on the shores of Snowmass Lake

Snowmass Lake
Snowmass Peak

Snowmass MountainSnowmass Mountain + Lake
Snowmass MountainTaken from near our campsite. Beautiful!

Day IV and Victory

The next morning, we decided to wake up early and hit the trail by 6am. We were treated with an amazing sunrise over the lake/peaks...

Snowmass Mountain
Trail Rider Pass

Snowmass Mountain
Getting Ready to Hit the Trail

From there, we climbed to our final pass: Buckskin Pass

Snowmass Mountain
Buckskin Pass

Snowmass MountainClimbing to the pass, looking back to Snowmass Mountain
Snowmass Mountain

Four Passes Complete!Victory #4!!!
Buckskin PassVictory #4 part II

Maroon BellsThe Bells from the Pass
Pyramid PeakPyramid Peak from the Pass

Buckskin TrailThe way down, back to the trailhead.
Buckskin PassThe pass itself was actually blocked with a huge cornice.

Buckskin BMBuckskin Benchmark from the pass...
Maroon Bells

Maroon Bell Flowers
Buckskin PassLooking back up towards the pass

28 Miles Later...
Maroon Bells

More Pics/Stories...

Please feel free to see my album of far more photos from our epic trip, as well as a more general trip report of the trip as a whole.

Thanks for stopping by!


Post a Comment
Viewing: 1-17 of 17

Bombchaser - Feb 23, 2010 3:30 pm - Voted 10/10


Great pics...


stinkycheezman33 - Feb 23, 2010 3:45 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Nice..

thanks! i appreciate the compliment :)

i highly recommend visiting this area if you haven't already...despite what people say about it being crowded, we went sat-tues and saw far fewer people than we were expecting to see


drjohnso1182 - Feb 23, 2010 7:49 pm - Voted 10/10

Nice TR

...and awesome pictures. Were you tempted to run up Snowmass? It looks so close from the lake... ;)


stinkycheezman33 - Feb 23, 2010 10:15 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Nice TR

thanks a bunch! i have to admit: i really wanted to tag the summit in the morning before we left, but my topo map and midwesterner lungs/legs told me different!


drjohnso1182 - Feb 24, 2010 12:06 am - Voted 10/10

Re: Nice TR

After three high passes with a heavy pack, I bet you would have floated to the top of Snowmass, but then having to shoulder that pack and hike over one more pass would have been some kind of brutal...tough call.


stinkycheezman33 - Feb 24, 2010 10:11 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Nice TR

haha, yeah that's how my thought process went :)

the deciding factor was the fact that we had to drive back over independence pass yet that afternoon and get to leadville. so much to do; so little time to do it!


MarkDidier - Feb 23, 2010 8:56 pm - Voted 10/10

Awesome Photo TR!

Just so many incedible pics in here...a great photo TR. Nice job and thanks for posting. Happy Trails, Mark


stinkycheezman33 - Feb 23, 2010 10:16 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Awesome Photo TR!

thanks mark!


tioga - Feb 24, 2010 7:11 pm - Voted 10/10

Great Stuff!

My brother and I did this loop, the same we you did it, a few years back. Beautiful scenery, probably the best I have ever been in. And I remember climbing Trail Rider and how long of a slog that was. Glad you enjoyed it!


stinkycheezman33 - Feb 24, 2010 7:22 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Great Stuff!

yeah, we have been saying that maybe we should have saved that trip after all because it's going to be tough to beat the scenery!
i am sure there are plenty of little secrets waiting to be discovered all over the place :D


tioga - Feb 24, 2010 7:55 pm - Voted 10/10

Re: Great Stuff!

It looks like Michigan has some beauty to be discovered!


stinkycheezman33 - Feb 24, 2010 10:06 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Great Stuff!

yes just have to know where to look :)


stinkycheezman33 - Jun 24, 2010 8:14 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Nice pics.

it was worth the trip indeed! i had heard it was "crowded" before we went, but we saw far fewer people than we expected, and the scenery was eye-poppingly gorgeous the whole time we were there.
go: you won't regret it!

skjmckee - Feb 5, 2011 4:03 pm - Hasn't voted


I am looking into making this trek Mid March, do you have any idea what condition the trails would be in? Also, although I have a military background and don't mind long hikes, what recommendations or preparations would you recommend as this is my first official hiking/camping trip. Thanks for any help and insight you might be able to give!


stinkycheezman33 - Feb 6, 2011 9:13 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Insight

i have not been here (or anywhere in colorado) in mid-march, but i can only guess that there will be a LOT of snow on all of the trails, and that the passes will be completely (and dangerously) blocked by snow. i cannot say that i would endorse it, but i am not any type of expert on winter travel in the mountains and i would say that you should start a thread on the forums to see what people with more experience might have to say.

that's my two cents...good luck!


thatgalfromtexas - Aug 14, 2011 7:09 pm - Voted 9/10


Fantastic photos. I'm planning on this hike the week of labor day 2011. Everyone that I know that has done this hike, has done it in the direction that you did and so will I. I hope that some of my photos will be as wonderful as yours.


stinkycheezman33 - Aug 27, 2011 11:46 am - Hasn't voted

Re: beautiful

thank you for the comments. sorry for the late reply, peace corps doesn't really allow for much internet access!

Viewing: 1-17 of 17



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