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Four Pass Loop or other? - Maroon Bells Colorado
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Michael L
(mpl_35) - MLife

Locale: The Palouse
Four Pass Loop or other? - Maroon Bells Colorado on 04/26/2010 12:27:23 MDT Print View

Ok guys, can I get some advice/feedback on this hike or potential alternatives?

My wife and I will be in Colorado this summer from July 17-26. We going to be hitting up South and Central CO (Durango, Great Sand Dunes, etc). We will be starting Thursday in Ouray and stopping by the Black Canyon of the Gunnison that morning. We don't have a lot of interest in hiking there and may only stay around for the morning (or all day) depending on our plans for Friday - Sun.

We have a early flight out of Denver at 8:00 AM so we need to be in Denver for Sunday night.

We were looking at Maroon Bells. Never been, looks spectacular, and would like to get in some backpacking there. (I joined here because we are moving from dayhikes to backpacking and are starting out as light as possible.)

I was interested in 4 Pass Loop as referenced in the title. I am just not sure about covering the distance in 3 days and 2 nights. Plus we HAVE to get out in time Sunday to get back to Denver. Looks like most people are doing it in 4 days, but I saw one lady that was jogging it in 1 day!

Compounding the time issue is that it will apparently be very busy on the weekend.

For reference, we haven't hiked at this altitude before, but we will be sleeping at 7000 feet or greater for most of the week before we get there. Our most comprable hikes are dayhikes. We did about 17 mile roundtrip to Half Dome in <10 hours.

We will put in some training backpacking runs before we go in July.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Four Pass Loop or other? - Maroon Bells Colorado on 04/26/2010 13:10:14 MDT Print View

From Schoefield Pass to Denver would be a tight, no traffic/no crashes/no tickets 6 hours. If you want to be there by 10pm you need to be out by 4pm. (If you don't park at the top of Schoefield Pass you run the risk of being mud-bound on the trailhead side of the pass in the event of a thunderstorm. Different story if you have 4WD - you'll save a hour of walking.)

Assuming you start hiking at noon on Thursday, you can get it done. I live at 7600 feet, routinely do 4 hour hikes to 10,000' and back, and frequent 8 day 120-150 mile trips. I had to Hump to get it done in 2.5 days and 2 nights. I was looking for camp at dark-thiry. Big passes, most likely with snow, and always unknown weather. Not much time for pictures. No time for coffee.

Yes, many do it as a 1 day run.

Is it worth the anxiety of wondering for 3 days if you'll make your flight?

So, it depends why you want to do it. To check it off, or to enjoy it.

Michael L
(mpl_35) - MLife

Locale: The Palouse
thx on 04/26/2010 13:26:46 MDT Print View


I was thinking about driving Thursday night and starting from the Aspen side. I will be in a rental car so 4 wheel drive conditions are a no go. Getting into Denver at 10 is fine, but the hike is for enjoyment NOT just to do it.

I would much rather do something else or hike out and back on part than race through with no time to enjoy.

I'm just unsure of what 15 miles a day pretty easily at Half Dome converts to the much higher altitude at Maroon Bells. That and if the 4 day people are regular backpackers or I should just expect that for what you deal with in that terrain. I threw in the run it in 1 day bit since I have pretty much only seen it as either 1 day run or 4 day hike.

Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: thx on 04/26/2010 13:42:22 MDT Print View

If you are doing if from the Aspen side, be sure you have a handle of the shuttle schedule in and out of Maroon Lake.

And from that side you can always make your early flight out on Monday, even with crazy weekend traffic.

Michael L
(mpl_35) - MLife

Locale: The Palouse
other options on 04/26/2010 15:34:15 MDT Print View


If I decide it is too much to attempt in my limited window, do you have some other 2 or 3 day loops or nice out and back recs? Scenery and low crowds are always a plus. Doesn't have to be a great challenge though. :)

Any where from Ouray to Denver is open.

Aaron Armstrong
(traderaaron) - F

Locale: Colorado
Backpacking near Ouray on 04/29/2010 10:08:25 MDT Print View

I am not exactly sure where all you are going to be on your trip but if you are going to base out of Ouray for a while you could do a short trip near there.

Here's a few ideas:, photos here,

Ice Lake Basin above Silverton,

Highland Mark Lakes, just a short but nice trip,

Uncompahgre Semi-loop,

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Colorado Hikes on 04/29/2010 10:28:15 MDT Print View

I'm doing SOME kind of Colorado hike the week before you plan to. I have several scouted out, planning to just actually do the one with the best weather when the time comes. I'm taking at least 5 days, though.

Others in that region that I've scouted include Flat Tops Wilderness- it has several interconnecting loop trails, so you can adjust the hike length. Likewise, Lost Creek Wilderness. Another is the Chicago Basin loop, using the Durango and Silverton RR as your shuttle, but I don't think you'd make that in time.

Michael L
(mpl_35) - MLife

Locale: The Palouse
thanks on 04/30/2010 09:04:31 MDT Print View


Thanks for the links. I will check them out.

My wife and I are taking Wednesday (July 21) to ride the RR in Durango. After that we have until Sunday night when we need to be in Denver. So I want to stop by the Black Canyon sometime in that Thursday to Sunday time, but other than that I am wide open as far as where I’ll be. Basically between Ouray where I want to spend the night Wednesday and Denver where I’ll fly home to TX from. I am saving RMNP and Four Pass Loop in Maroon Bells for another day.


I’ll look at those too. Thanks.