4-Pass Backpack Loop

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lady38shooter

 
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4-Pass Backpack Loop

by lady38shooter » Tue Mar 15, 2016 2:45 am

Hi All,

We are from AZ and a few of us are planning a backpack trip at 4-Pass Loop. The trip is planned for end of July/first of August. We plan to spend 3 nights and about 3 days on the trail. We've read about bears, but still need to find out what type of bears and how to handle a possible encounter. We have found the information online where certain areas are closed due to aggressive bear activity and will map that in our GPS. I'm sure there's a temp difference as well that we need to consider. The current plan is to spend the night below the tree line, preferably near water. If anyone has packed this loop and has any Do's or Don'ts that you would like to offer up, we're certainly open. We definitely expect it to be a different experience than our trips in AZ, and want to make sure we're prepared and fully enjoy the beauty of Colorado. Water feedback would be great as well, or we can call the Forest Service to check on that a few weeks before our trip.

Thanks in advance for any insight given!

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chicagotransplant

 
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Re: 4-Pass Backpack Loop

by chicagotransplant » Mon Mar 28, 2016 10:59 pm

We only have black bears in Colorado, no grizz. However, they have been troublesome due to campers not protecting their food. Therefore, due to bear activity, a bear canister is required for all backpacking in Maroon Bells/Snowmass Wilderness area, where the Four Pass Loop is located. If you don't own one, you can rent in Carbondale at Ragged Mountain Sports or Ute Mountaineer in Aspen, not sure who else may rent them, but other stores may sell them such as Summit Canyon in Glenwood Springs or maybe Bristlecone in Basalt?

The campsites at Crater Lake were closed in 2015 due to bear activity, it is unclear at this time if they will be reopened or not in 2016. There are also some campfire restrictions, including within 1/4 of treeline or above treeline, and within 1/4 mile of several popular lakes. Some areas require camping only in designated sites. Also note that sometimes a temporary fire ban will be enacted when fire danger is high. You can find out all of the camping and campfire restrictions from the local ranger station prior to your trip.

The loop is near several creeks but has long stretches over the passes themselves that are dry, so definitely check your water supply before the trails start over the passes. I have not done the loop, but have been over all 4 of the passes on various day hikes and peak climbs. I am not sure where the best camping lies or how good the water sources are for campsites. Hopefully some of this was helpful!

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lady38shooter

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Re: 4-Pass Backpack Loop

by lady38shooter » Tue Mar 29, 2016 5:56 am

Thank you for your time chicago. I definitely plan to call the ranger station to get more information. The bear canisters we've used in the Grand Canyon were park supplied at designated campgrounds, and basically huge army type metal cans. There must be a different option that works with backpacking? Are you familiar with the bear canisters? Can you send me a link? Maybe it's something we can get here. We won't have a lot of time once we land to get to the trailhead so early preparation is best.

Thanks again!

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Re: 4-Pass Backpack Loop

by chicagotransplant » Tue Mar 29, 2016 4:06 pm

They run about $80 to buy one, but I think they are like 7 or 8 to rent per day. Here is a link to the type we typically use on Colorado, they hold about 4-5 days of food for one person, so depending on your group you may need more than one, so renting might be your best option.

They weigh like 2-1/2 pounds, but are pretty easy to carry around. You need a coin to open the screws. Keep it away from camp by a good 100 feet, stored upside down (they can take on water otherwise) and try and secure it under rocks or with some cord around a tree, bears do sometimes try and get into them and people have occasionally found their food away from camp after getting swatted by a curious bear!

https://www.rei.com/product/624081/garcia-bear-resistant-container

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Floyd

 
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Re: 4-Pass Backpack Loop

by Floyd » Wed Mar 30, 2016 9:02 pm

lady38 - my daughter and I spent a week on the 4-pass last summer. If you need detail on sites/water supply, let me know your itinerary and I should be able to offer some help as the route is still pretty fresh in my mind. Enjoy it, it's a popular loop for a reason.

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Re: 4-Pass Backpack Loop

by lady38shooter » Fri Apr 01, 2016 5:34 am

Thanks Chicago for the information on the bear containers. Renting might be a better idea for sure! There's a group of us so that could get really expensive quickly. Thanks again for your time.

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Re: 4-Pass Backpack Loop

by lady38shooter » Fri Apr 01, 2016 5:40 am

Floyd wrote:lady38 - my daughter and I spent a week on the 4-pass last summer. If you need detail on sites/water supply, let me know your itinerary and I should be able to offer some help as the route is still pretty fresh in my mind. Enjoy it, it's a popular loop for a reason.


Hi Floyd...We're still in the rough planning stages of our plan. Would you mind sharing your itinerary, i.e. miles per day, which TH did you come in from and which way did you take the loop? That might help me start to formalize our plan a little more. Anything you would do differently or even glad you did?? We're all pretty experienced packers, but packing in AZ I'm certain is quite a different experience than packing in CO. Thanks!!

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Steven Cross

 
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Re: 4-Pass Backpack Loop

by Steven Cross » Wed Apr 06, 2016 4:25 am

I did that loop when I lived in Flagstaff over 20 years ago. I would suggest coming in from Crested Butte and head over Schofield Pass if you have a 4 wheel vehicle. It's a lot shorter of a drive than heading to Aspen. You also don't have to deal with any fees or red tape.
If you can squeeze in one more day, I'd recommend hiking Snowmass Mtn.

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Re: 4-Pass Backpack Loop

by chicagotransplant » Thu Apr 07, 2016 6:17 pm

I think what Steven is suggesting is starting the Four Pass Loop from the Crested Butte side just over Schofield Pass, you do not want to drive to Aspen over Schofield Pass, that is a very rough road!

I easily drove to the West Maroon Pass trailhead in my Subaru Outback (2012 model) in August of 2013. This trailhead is approximately 1 mile north of Schofield Pass at about 10,400'. This would be an excellent place to start and finish the 4-Pass Loop, avoiding the fees and crowds of Maroon Lake.

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Steven Cross

 
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Re: 4-Pass Backpack Loop

by Steven Cross » Sat Apr 09, 2016 7:26 am

That's exactly what I'm talking about. It's a really beautiful drive and you get to check out the town of Crested Butte. It would cut down quite a few hours of driving. No fees, less crowds, you can camp near the trailhead. You have an advantage coming in from the south.
When I did it, we headed over Frigid Air Pass first and ended with West Maroon Pass. Looking back it may have been better going the other direction. West Maroon Pass was crowded. Dealing with the crowds then ending in solitude would have been more ideal. Many people hike from Maroon Lake over to West Maroon Pass Trailhead then shuttle back to Aspen.
I don't remember the road much since I was 17 and I did none of the driving. I do remember a sketchy bridge over a creek right before the TR. It looked like it would nearly collapse every time a vehicle would cross it. It was the scariest little bridge I've ever crossed. I often wonder if it's been replaced.

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Re: 4-Pass Backpack Loop

by lady38shooter » Fri Jul 15, 2016 6:34 am

Can anyone confirm whether there's water crossings? There looks like there's several.

Also, counter or clockwise and why?

Thanks!

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Steven Cross

 
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Re: 4-Pass Backpack Loop

by Steven Cross » Fri Jul 15, 2016 7:14 pm

Bring water shoes or sandles for sure. There is one water crossing.

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Re: 4-Pass Backpack Loop

by lady38shooter » Fri Jul 15, 2016 9:26 pm

If anyone has suggestions on itineraries it would also be appreciated. We are coming up with what we believe is possible, but would love to hear other experiences.

Thanks all!

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Re: 4-Pass Backpack Loop

by pstjohn » Wed Jul 20, 2016 9:13 pm

Sorry to hijack your thread to ask a question, but does anyone have a good idea about trailhead parking? An article from a couple years ago paints a grim picture: http://www.aspentimes.com/news/12325381 ... g-visitors

Is the shuttle pretty much the only option?


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