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An all-time journey over four 12,500' alpine passes, circumnavigating the Maroon Bells.

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12,454' 3,796 m


9,576' 2,919 m


7,265' 2,214 m


7,266' 2,215 m



Avg Grade (6°)


Max Grade (28°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Birding · Commonly Backpacked · Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Advance reservation overnight permits are required for the busiest areas of the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness including Conundrum Hot Springs, Capitol Lake, Crater Lake, and the Four Pass Loop (including Snowmass Lake and Geneva Lake). Permits must be purchased in advance at

For more information, check out the US Forest Service's website.


Up and over four incredible 12,000'+ mountain passes around the Maroon Bells Wilderness. People do this as a 4-day backpack... and it's a common 1-day run!

Need to Know

To access the trailhead at Maroon Lake, you must enter the Maroon Bells Scenic Area before 8am or after 5pm to access with a vehicle, which a $10 entrance fee is required. Otherwise, shuttle buses run for all visitors arriving between 8am-5pm.

For more info click here.

Approved bear food storage containers are also required and strictly enforced.


Begin at the Maroon Snowmass Trailhead. This route is described counterclockwise, going Buckskin Pass, Trail Rider Pass, Frigid Air Pass, West Maroon Pass. Either way is great.

Proceed South on Maroon Snowmass Trail, climbing gradually over 1.5 miles. Make a right at a signed T-intersection headed for Buckskin Pass (Buckskin Pass Trail). Nowhere to go but up with spectacular views of N. Maroon (14,014') blowing up to your left as you crest treeline.

From the top turn around to savor the early morning sun on Pyramid Peak (14,018'), eye up the trail descending right and take it down toward the densely forested Snowmass Creek drainage. After about 3 miles from the top of Buckskin, take the first left onto Geneva Lake Trail at a t-intersection. In early August 2014, this critical juncture was not signed. Consult the Trail Run Project mobile app here to make sure you make the turn.

Let the pain begin as you ascend southwestward to Trail Rider Pass over the stunning Snowmass Lake and under the eastern flanks of the hulking Snowmass Mountain (14,092').

From Trail Rider summit (12,500'), enjoy sweeping views of the remote West Elks & brace your skeleton for the steepest, most jarring descent of the day.

Note: If you encounter dangerous weather, a possible bailout is to exit to the southwest at the Geneva Lake trailhead, where you can probably hitch a ride with a 4x4 on the Lead King Loop down to Marble to make a pickup call.

About two miles off the top of Trail Rider, keep a sharp eye out for your next critical left turn, onto the unsigned North Fork Cutoff Trail. For the next mile you'll traverse southeast on a steep hillside until merging with North Fork Crystal River. If you need a break, this is a good spot to fill up water and get off your feet. After another mile, look for a ridiculous waterfall & enter the pain cave once again as you switchback above the falls to enter the otherworldly Fravert Basin.

From here, it's 2.75 miles under Maroon Peak (14,156') through unreal alpine terrain to the top of Frigid Air Pass. Keep some gas in the tank to savor this section. From Frigid Air summit (12,500'), take heart because you have just two miles and much less vertical relief to Maroon Pass.

Halfway between the passes, go straight toward Maroon at a T, meeting West Maroon Trail. Punch it over your final 12,500' pass, and cruise the last seven miles down the West Maroon Creek drainage to your cooler.

Flora & Fauna

More wildflowers than you can count...


Shared By:

Jason Smith with improvements by Spirit 45 CluB

Trail Ratings

  4.9 from 210 votes


  4.9 from 210 votes
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271 Views Last Month
187,433 Since Feb 9, 2015



One hell of an evening at the Maroon Bells
Sep 27, 2015 near Snowmas…, CO
Feb 9, 2015 near Snowmas…, CO
Running up heavenly Fravert Basin. Photo: Michelle Smith
Aug 31, 2015 near Snowmas…, CO
Maroon Bells
Apr 1, 2015 near Snowmas…, CO
One of the many amazing high country lake views found on the Four Pass Loop.
Feb 1, 2018 near Snowmas…, CO
Maroon Bells on a beautiful fall day
Feb 8, 2018 near Snowmas…, CO


Current Trail Conditions

Add Your Check-In


Sep 16, 2022
Gabriel Poulin
27.3mi — 10h 15m
Dec 8, 2021
Irina Garbuz
Aug 26, 2021
Kristina Chang
Sprained ankle 14 miles in heheh 28.5mi — 11h 09m
Jul 31, 2021
Michelle Kent
Beautiful loop! Well maintained trail. gpx file did the job for navigation. 28mi — 8h 23m
Sep 27, 2020
Blake Batchelor
Great route! Went clockwise
Aug 22, 2020
Corbin Larsen
28.6mi — 10h 00m
Aug 8, 2020
Nate Roedl
Aug 7, 2020
Kristin Louderback
Amazing wildflowers. Plenty of running water. Friendly faces. Physically and logistically challenging but worth the effort! 27mi — 8h 38m