Maroon Bells

6-8 July 2018

Ever since I went to the South San Juans last year I have been itching to get back to Colorado, so I was thrilled when my buddy ChiaGlyph suggested MixMaster and I come to his home turf to do the “Four Pass Loop” around Maroon Peak.

The only problem with this spectacular trail that goes over West Maroon, Frigid Air, Trail Rider, and Buckskin Passes is that it is a mere 28 miles.

So we changed the starting point to the Snowmass Creek Trailhead and added a loop around Geneva Lake and above Crystal Canyon, which gave us four more passes: Hasley, Willow, East Snowmass, and a cross-country pass we named ‘Bundy’ (it’s a long story….).

Thus was born the “Eight Pass Loop!”


We did this loop in 3 days but it is so scenic it would also be enjoyable as a much longer trip.  I especially liked the solitude we experienced above Crystal Canyon, in Hasley Basin, and from Willow Pass back up to East Snowmass Creek when we were off the beaten path of the traditional Four Pass Loop (though the popular part of the trail was also totally worth it for its spectacular scenery).

There was a lot of climbing on this trip — about 14,000 feet of elevation gain — but it was so, so worth it because each pass was unique and beautiful in its own way.  Whether it’s Buckskin Pass with the best dual view of any pass I’ve ever seen, or Hasley Pass with its gentle rolling tundra, or East Snowmass Pass with its huge piles of red and white talus, or the oh-so-steep Willow Pass with gorgeous views of the Willow Lake basin (and mountain goats!), you will not be disappointed.

Day 1: Trail Rider Pass

Day 2: Hasley, Frigid Air, and West Maroon Passes

Day 3: Buckskin, ‘Bundy’, Willow, and East Snowmass Passes