Travel Tales: (Almost) Conquering the Maroon Bells Four Pass Loop Hike

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How to conquer the Maroon Bells Four Pass Loop hike

Hiking the Maroon Bells Four Pass Loop in Aspen, Colorado’s Snowmass Wilderness is arguably one of the top experiences you can have when visiting Colorado in the summer months. This 26-mile, 3 to 5 day hike will take you past smooth, glasslike lakes, through beautiful meadows filled with wild flowers and over four mountain passes that reach over 12,000 ft. Recently, one of our Ayoopa community members set out to trek the Maroon Bells Four Pass Loop. He is visiting our blog today to share his experience and tips to help you prepare for your first time camping and hiking the loop! Keep reading to learn more about Praful’s experience on the trail.

Q: Give us the deets on your trip. Where did you go? For how long? Who did you bring with you?

Praful: To start with, this was an unsuccessful attempt to hike the four pass loop in the Maroon Bell wilderness. We planned to hike it over four days. We were a group of four friends from college. Our last successful hike was hiking/camping in Supai, AZ.

Q: Tell us about the location.

Praful: It was breathtaking with views of 14ers (or, for those of you not familiar with mountaineering lingo, mountains topping out at over 14,000 ft)  from lush green valleys. We hiked through Maroon Lake to Crater Lake before we gave up. Maroon Lake has beautiful reflection of the mountains near by.

A steep incline on the Maroon Bells Four Pass Loop trek
One of the many steep inclines on the way to Crater Lake

Q: What gear did you bring?

Praful: We packed a lot of gear to survive the high altitudes. We took two light weight tents that could withstand high winds, sleeping bags with  20° F rating, light weight sleeping pads, rain jackets, hiking poles and thermal wear. In Maroon Bells Snowmass wilderness, all food and personal items must be packed in bear canisters so each of us carried one bear canister. We also took one bear spray and a couple of knives. A couple of members in our group also carried DSLR cameras and tripods. For food, we took Mountain House freeze dried food and some other dry food. We cooked with isopropane stove.

Q: What was the most useful item? What made it stand out?

Praful: The bear canisters we took turned out to be the most useful. We did not realize how serious the bear problem in that are was until we arrived. Some campgrounds around Maroon Lake were closed because of bear menace.

Q: What item would you leave at home next time?

Praful: We would definitely leave back the camera and accessories. It adds at least 4 pounds to the backpack and an iPhone would be a much better, lighter option when you are hiking 2,000 feet in 2 days.

Q: Best story or most memorable moment of the trip. Go!

Praful: The most memorable moment of the trip would be the view from atop the Independence Pass. The photo speaks for itself.

View from Independence Pass while hiking the Maroon Bells Four Pass Loop
View from Independence Pass

Q: What advice do you have for someone planning a similar trip?

Praful: We couldn’t hike the four pass loop. We gave up on the second day, but we learnt a lot from this trip. We failed because we didn’t plan well. My advice to someone’s first time hiking and camping on the loop would be to plan well. We packed too much food and equipment. Plan all your meals, snacks and plan to pack the trash with the constraint that you need to fit everything including trash in the bear canister. The second piece of advice is to add a extra day in trip when trekking in high altitudes. Almost all of us suffered from mountain sickness at some point during the trip which delayed our hikes.

Thank you, Praful for sharing your experience with us! Interested in more hiking and camping trips within the U.S.? Check out our posts on hiking the Appalachian Trail and Havasupai Falls!

Thinking about trekking the Maroon Bells Four Pass Loop? Ayoopa has your Aspen tent rental, Aspen backpack rental and Aspen sleeping bag rental options in one spot, making it easy to compare and find the best price! Also, if you need a specialty camping gear item like those crucial bear canisters, let our concierge help!

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