Rito Alto Four Pass Loop
ElevationAscent: 5,843' 1,781 m
Descent: -5,841' -1,780 m
High: 13,004' 3,964 m
Low: 9,056' 2,760 m
GradeAvg Grade: 10% (5°)
Max Grade: 40% (22°)
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“A secluded loop in the Sangre de Cristo mountains that crosses four mountain passes.”— Michael Arrigo
Follow the trail clockwise around the bowl, which becomes the North Fork Crestone Trail, ascending the 2nd pass much lower than the first. Again, there is a trail that could take you to the lake if you wanted. After crossing the pass, follow the North Fork Crestone Trail, avoiding turning down to the creek on the San Isabel Trail. The trail crosses several streams which run even during late summer, so there are amble opportunities to get water. Another climb crosses the 3rd pass and down into another valley that would be worth a whole day exploring.
At the next trail juncture, stay high onto the Venable Trail which climbs to the 4th and final pass, the 2nd highest of the loop. After gaining the ridge, stay on the main trail, avoiding the side trails to the Venerable Lake Trail, and descend back to the initial Rainbow Trail intersection with the access trail spur back to the trailhead.
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