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Backpacking: Colorado > White River National Forest > Aspen Ranger District

Quick Facts

Buckskin Pass Trail

Average Time: 4 - 5 Hours one way
Beginning Elevation: 9,580 Feet (2986.3 Meters)
Difficulty: Difficult
Elevation Gain: 2,882 Feet (898.4 Meters)
Ending Elevation: 12,462 Feet (3884.7 Meters)
Length: 4.8 Miles (8.0 Kilometers) one way
Other Maps: Trails Illustrated 128 Maroon Bells, Redstone, Marble
Recommended Season: Summer to Fall
Trail Number: 1975
Usage: Extremely Heavy
USGS Maps: Maroon Bells

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

The trail starts at the Maroon Lake parking area traversing through a meadow to the far end of Maroon Lake to a Forest Service bulletin board. Keep right on the Maroon-Snowmass Trail to Crater Lake. At the Crater Lake bulletin board, take the right fork, which climbs steadily into Minnehaha Gulch. About 1/2 mile above the tree line is the Maroon-Snowmass & Willow Lake Trail junction. Take the left fork continuing to follow the Maroon-Snowmass Trail, which leads to some switchbacks that ascend steeply to the top of Buckskin Pass.

Directions from Aspen: From mid-June through September the Maroon Creek Road is closed from 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., you will need to take a shuttle.If you get an early start, drive 1/2 mile west of Aspen on Highway 82 and turn left at onto Maroon Creek Road at the roundabout. Bear right and continue 9-1/2 miles to the Maroon Lake parking area.

Seasonal Information:
Normally Accessible: June through September (NOTE: Snow may obstruct the trail at high elevations into July and in Late September.) .

Current Conditions & Trip Reports
Winter Conditions. Beware of avalanche danger and hypothermia. Updated: 2002-12-23 14:35:00.0

Add your own trip Report! Newly re-released feature. One of the most popular features on Wildernet, trip reports allow you to share your experiences with others. This is an invaluable resource for determining what to expect on your outdoor adventure, so please participate! To prevent spamming, you must be a registered user of Wildernet in order to submit a trip report

Filed By: Amy (New York, NY)
Time of Day: afternoon
Length of Time: 4 hours 45 minutes
Difficulty: Hard
Number of People Encountered: 25-50 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: There were a lot of people until we got to Crater Lake at which point 90% dropped off. Beautiful meadows, aspen groves, incredible views all along the way. The goats at the ridge line were a fabulous welcome party. The final switchbacks are challenging. Our favorite hike in Aspen (maybe all of CO) so far!
Conditions: Good shade until past the tree line.
Recommended Clothing: Bring layers. Can be hot in the sun further down the trail, windy and cooler as you climb and leave the trees.

Filed By: 81611 (aspen, CO)
Difficulty: Moderate
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Always a beautiful hike, just checking in to say that rain/then lightning/then hail started earlier in the day than usual. Always bring a rain jacket with you on any hike at high elevation!!
Conditions: alternatively sunny/rainy/flooded
Water Availability: 1 liter
Recommended Clothing: Always bring a rain jacket and a sunhat along
Suggested Accessories: I use one hiking pole which really was helpful coming down the rocky part from Crater to Maroon Lake

Time of Day: started at 9:00am ended at 1:30pm
Length of Time: 4.5 hours round trip
Difficulty: Easy
Number of People Encountered: 11-25 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: I am a twenty year old inexperienced hiker and I thought the hike was great. It was not very difficult at all but very rewarding to see the views once you reach the top of the pass. I hiked in a t-shirt and shorts and made it just fine without all the expensive gear.
Conditions: The conditions were great just watch for rain in the afternoons
Water Availability: One big bottle of water
Recommended Clothing: T-shirt, shorts. Some might need a light jacket incase it becomes breezy
Suggested Accessories: No accessories used

Difficulty: Hard
Number of People Encountered: 11-25 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: A (literally) breathtaking day hike through varied terrain (cool forests, flower-strewn meadows, craggy scree fields)and challenging switchbacks that gave us 'flatlanders' (both 30something and in reasonable shape for sea level!) a real workout. We saw picas, hawks and other assorted critters (and not too many people) and heard rumors of sheep grazing above treeline. Bring extra energy bars and look up when you feel winded; the exhilarating views will revive you, and the panoramas from the top of the pass will make every groaning muscle stand up and cheer!

Difficulty: Hard
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: A great trip to see many alpine flowers!! Bring your camera! I also continued walking over the pass, down into Snowmass Lake and then out into Snowmass the following day..A great trip! Michael Hills Barrow- in - Furness, Cumbria. England. Via Aspen, Colorado.

Difficulty: Easy
Number of People Encountered: 25-50 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Beautiful hike, well marked. Little exposure, but safe. Fairly easy and fast. Very enjoyable, especially nice for us Floridians.

View more Trip Reports.

Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Backpacking This trail continues beyond Buckskin Pass (see Maroon-Snowmass Trail) and links to several other trails.
ICON Hiking & Walking Maroon-Snowmass Trail
ICON Horseback Riding Maroon-Snowmass Trail

More Information
Frequently Asked Questions
Email the Local Ranger

Visitor Information:

Aspen Ranger District, 806 W. Hallam , Aspen, CO, 81611, Phone: 970-925-3445

Links to other sites:
Forest Conservancy - Current Information from Local Volunteers: Closings and Conditions


Local Lodging

Stay at the Aspen Square Hotel
Stay at the Aspen Square Hotel

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