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Four Pass Loop near Aspen, Colorado
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Tim Cheek
(hikerfan4sure) - MLife
Four Pass Loop near Aspen, Colorado on 09/09/2007 14:08:51 MDT Print View

This trail has been photographed and analyzed heavily elsewhere on the internet, so feel free to google those itineraries. I went clockwise, but went off trail when it looked fun. What follows are general impressions and logistical suggestions.

If you prefer solitude this is not the trip for you. But, if you are short on time and appreciate alpine tundra this trip should be on your to-do list. Some run this trip in one day starting well before sunrise. That is a sin in my view because the scenery is too nice to spend your time watching the placement of your trail runners. Take your time and enjoy the scenery and a light pack! Most break this into a three or four day trip.

There is no need in the summer months to go overboard on gear. Sure, it is high altitude, but I slept low and could have easily used a tarp, and slept in warm clothes in a 35 degree bag. Use a bear bag. I had a bear in camp every hour or so all nightlong in Minniehaha gulch.

Convenience is the second best attribute of this trip: I was at the trailhead for the cost of airfare to Aspen. If you can afford the airfare to Aspen (not as bad as you might imagine) from your home, then the rest of the trip's cost is whatever it costs to fill your pack. The irony is that Aspen's well-deserved reputation for extravagance includes free and inexpensive infrastructure.

You can take a free shuttle from the airport to downtown Aspen. There you can get fuel at Carl's Pharmacy or at a hardware store across the street (just ask anyone on the bus). I got a pint of denatured alcohol from the paint section.

You can take a free shuttle to the Aspen Recreational Center (ARC) and rent a locker for a change of clothes, etc. When you return from your hike you can shower at the ARC, change clothes and take the bus back to the airport for your flight home. It cost me just $10.00. Ask them if they’ll loan you a lock for the door.

During the summer months there is a six-dollar shuttle bus for tourists and you to and from the trailhead. The shuttle bus leaves from Aspen Highlands, just another 3/4-mile free shuttle bus ride from the ARC. If you are off-season, I got out the day after Labor Day; I hitched a ride with a bicycle tour operator back to the ARC.

There is just one problem with this approach. If you are not acclimated you need to take it easy. The first day I camped at 11,500' and the next day I hiked over two passes at 12,500'. If you push yourself too hard from sea level or near sea level you can get headaches, nausea, etc. The mantra to climb high and sleep low is easy to follow on this route. Sleeping in the trees was easy to arrange, and stages you for the next day’s climb after a good rest. Can’t emphasize enough that while the mileage is only 28 or so that an effort to do it too quickly can wreck your health.

Short but sweet.

Dave Flanagan
(cbtrekker) - F

Locale: Gunnison Valley
4 pass loop on 09/16/2007 09:08:24 MDT Print View

What a great loop can't say enough about the scenery. A person can also access this loop via Crested Butte (Scofield Park South portal of West Maroon trial head) I myself have done the loop numerous times never any problem with bears. If you have the time there are sevral fourteeners to summit. North and South Maroon, Pyramid and Snowmass peaks are easily accessible. The fishing in Snowmass lake is very good as well. If you have the time a short detour to Willow Lake is a must, maybe one of my favorite basins in the Elk Mts. Hope this info helps you with your tirp.

Douglas Smith
Four Pass Loop in September on 07/14/2009 19:43:12 MDT Print View

Has anyone ever hiked the Four Pass Loop in September. I have hiked Wyoming extensively in September, but never CO.

Michael Bachman
(rivrfox) - F

Locale: Western Slope, Colorado
Hey on 07/14/2009 21:27:10 MDT Print View

edited...only read first post.

Edited by rivrfox on 07/17/2009 00:28:35 MDT.

Dondo .

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Four Pass Loop in September on 07/14/2009 21:44:35 MDT Print View

Yeah, Douglas. I did it a few years ago the Tuesday to Friday right after Labor Day. It was a great time to go because the crowds that Tim mentioned had all gone home and the bugs had disappeared. Later in September can be tricky because a major storm can come in and shut down the loop. Keep a close eye on the weather.

Dondo .

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Four Pass Loop near Aspen, Colorado on 07/14/2009 21:51:57 MDT Print View

>>I had a bear in camp every hour or so all nightlong in Minniehaha gulch.

Jeeze, Tim.
Note to self. Do NOT camp in Minniehaha gulch.

Douglas Smith
Re: Re: Four Pass Loop in September on 07/15/2009 09:24:38 MDT Print View

Thanks much for the info.