2011 Maroon Bells Trip Report

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What. A. Dream. The Maroon Bells are beyond-words gorgeous. Will, Weez, and I had the most amazing time backpacking the 4-pass loop over Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. We had originally planned on hiking the 30ish mile loop in 4 days/3 nights, but we were able to comfortably enjoy the hike in 3 days, so we figured we’d just come home 1 day early.

We hiked the loop counterclockwise. I took over 300 photos while we were there, but I’ll just share with you some of my favs.

Day 1. West Maroon Portal Parking Lot to Buckskin Pass to Snowmass Lake
We hiked about 8 miles today. It felt like we were in the Land Before Time, meets Jurassic Park, meets the Swiss Alps. Huge open meadows with wildflowers of every color and type. Woods with 50 foot tall aspens and pines. We crossed several little streams without problem, and the views from Buckskin Pass were phenomenal. Pictures just can’t do this place justice.

On our way!
The Maroon Bells
Buckskin Pass
Meadow following Buckskin Pass
Weez pumping fresh water at Snowmass Lake

 Day 2. Snowmass Lake, to Trail Rider Pass, to Geneva Lake, to Fravert Basin
It’s hard to say how far we hiked today with our side trips and loop around Geneva Lake, but it was a fun, long day. This day of the trip was probably my favorite because everything was just so lush and larger than life, that, and we got to cross 3 legit rivers! We hiked over 5 snowfields, through fields with hundreds of sunflowers waist-high, across 3 rivers (where we had to switch to our water shoes and cross carefully!), past lakes so still they looked like mirrors, and through open meadows straight out of a fairy tale. We stopped for lunch at Geneva lake where I took a swim in the ice cold water. We slept without the fly on the tent, falling asleep under the gazzilion stars. Heavenly.

Trail Rider Pass
The meadow following Trail Rider Pass (counterclockwise)
Approaching Geneva Lake
Lunch at Geneva Lake
Fields of sunflowers
River crossing
Refilling our water
What a terrible place to camp for the night, right? :)

Day 3. Fravert Basin, to Frigid Air Pass, to West Maroon Pass, to Crater Lake, to West Maroon Portal Parking Lot
The day started with a strenuous uphill hike through dense forest, followed by open meadows that climbed to the first pass of the day, Frigid Air Pass. We started seeing more people (and runners!), which was a fun reminder that we were getting closer to the popular Crater Lake. Had lunch on top West Maroon Pass. Crossed two more rivers. Spent the afternoon hiking through dense brush and rocky trails, and finally made it back to our car :)

Fravert Basin
Frigid Air Pass
West Maroon Pass
The narrow, loose-rock trail down from W. Maroon Pass
Heading north towards Crater Lake
River crossing = crazy awesome fun
Resting besides Crater Lake (almost back at the car!)
Young moose crossing a field, with the Maroon Bells in the distance
Hurray! Post backpacking trip photo!

There’s just not enough time in the day to describe how gorgeous this place is, and how cool of an experience this backpacking trip was. Nothing compares to fresh air, sore legs, camping under the stars after a hard days hike, and views that leave you speechless. I’ve never been to such a pretty place in my life and to anyone who loves to hike and camp, I highly recommend this 4-pass loop :)

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7 Comments Add yours

  1. cisforcourtney says:

    This has to be my favorite! Absolutely BEAUTIFUL pictures! It looks like you guys had an amazing weekend! …I’m also starting to notice we have a lot of the same gear! JET BOILS FTW!!!
    :D

  2. Lisa says:

    Gorgeous!!

  3. Maggie says:

    Absolutely breathtaking! Your pictures look unreal!! What an incredible experience you guys had!

  4. Morgan says:

    Wow, just wow! I soo need to get my Dad to take us hiking the next time we’re in the state. These pics are just breathtaking! Glad you had a great trip!

  5. Beth says:

    Where is this?!?! I need to go ASAP! Do you have like a super nice camera and photo skills, or is the scenery that beautiful that you can just point and shoot and it all looks like that?!? Incredible!

  6. Pingback: 7481 Inch Maroon

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