Aspen Four Passes Loop

My cousins Doug and Liz invite me to join them on a backpack trip with their friends Dave and Shantel in the wildflower wonderland of the Maroon Bells. Who could say no to that? The logistics get a little complicated, but Dad hands me off successfully and we leave the Maroon Lake trailhead right on schedule at 5:30pm Thursday evening.

Arrival at Maroon Lake

Wilderness Boundary

An evening shower hits us before we find a campsite, treating us to an overhead rainbow.

Maroon Bells Rainbow

First Camp

The next day skies are blue again and we make it over two passes, West Maroon and Frigid Air. I make the first one barefoot, but my feet cry uncle between the two. Let the wildflowers begin!

Dave and Shantel


Entering the flower zone

Bare foot on West Maroon Pass

In addition to insane wildflowers, this range exhibits a huge variety of geological patterns. The day ends with a move from a good campsite to a perfect one.

Rock Bands and Snow Fields

Wildflower Smorgasbord

Second Campsite

In the morning I find a porcupine chewing on Dave and Shantel’s hiking poles, and capture some of his escape to a nearby tree. Odd creatures.

The morning’s hike takes us down a steep drop next to a waterfall on North Fork Creek.

Liz at Altitude

Flowers and Falls

I remain enamored with the flowers up to a windy Trail Rider pass.


Paintbrush Sixpack

Me on windy Trail Rider Pass

Doug and Liz on Trail Rider Pass

We flee the windy pass to have lunch over the dramatic Snowmass Lake.

Snowmass Lake

Some rangers give us directions to a campsite in the Snowmass Creek valley. We reach the creek with time to explore, but fail to find it. The designated campsites are good too, if a little mosquito infested.

Water Party at Snowmass Creek

Evening Maroon Bells Reflection

Our last day takes over the last pass, Buckskin Pass, my favorite. The trail on the west side is friendly to bare feet, and many big peaks dominate the views on both sides.

Barefoot on Buckskin Pass

Doug takes a coffee break

All too soon we’re back at Crater Lake, then Maroon Lake, then evading the Sunday evening return traffic. I’m thankful to my companions and the unique Maroon Bells wilderness for a blissful trip.

Back at Maroon Lake

Full Photo Set

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