Backpack to Snowmass Lake

16.6 miles 2500 ft gain  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by Matthew Eaton

Take in amazing views on this backpacking trip to Snowmass Lake. Expect roughly 4 hours each way.

For the adventurous backpacker looking to get backcountry in central Colorado, the stunning beauty of the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness cannot be beat. While the Maroon Bells just outside of Aspen might be the most photographed mountains on North America, the beauty is definitely rivaled by Snowmass Peak, which stands prominently above Snowmass Lake. This is not to be confused with Snowmass Mountain, which is the 14er attached to Snowmass Peak via a long ridge, nor is it the same as the ski resort, but I digress.

Start the hike from the Maroon Snowmass Trailhead and continue 8.5 miles to Snowmass Lake. This journey will take you about 4 hours of steady hiking and is 8.5 miles each way, 17 miles round trip.

This hike offers a tour of the wilderness area on a well-maintained trail in the depths of a valley, through a magnificent Aspen grove, across a log-jam at Snowmass Creek, and then a steep ascent up switchbacks to finally arrive at Snowmass Lake.

While the net elevation gain is only about 1,500ft, there are many ups and downs that will have you climbing 2,500ft each way, for a 5,000ft total gain. Luckily there is great dispersed camping at the lake, just be sure to check with the local Ranger district for wilderness regulations and remember to pack out anything you brought with you.

This trip can be combined into one segment of the infamous 4-Pass Loop, or you can make it a more simple out-and-back weekend.

For more information, check out the Forest Service Guide.

Read More

Tags

Camping
Fishing
Photography
Backpacking
Dog Friendly
Forest
Lake
Scenic

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Lost

3 stars simply because the trail disappears half way and it was almost dark and I had a panic attack. I was with my boyfriend and little sister. I was the only one panicking while the others tried to remain calm. The "trail" led us in the middle of the woods. We heard some guys talking and called for help and asked them to stay so we could get back on the trail. We just headed back because it got dark literally at 6pm. Scariest moment ever but just be careful and don't go alone. It's a beautiful scenery though.

Explorer

🥇Top Contributor

about 5 years ago

Iconic Colorado backcountry

This spot is great whether you're camping or passing through while running the 4-pass loop. There's also a small waterfall down from the outlet.

🥈 Contributor

about 5 years ago

Excellent Hike, Although Steeper than Expected

This was the first adventure I actually went on based entirely on an Outbound post. Thanks for the great advice and inspiring photos, Matt!

Stay Nearby

Maroon Creek Road

East Maroon Portal Picnic Site

Overview East Maroon Portal Picnic Site is situated next to Maroon Creek, offering spectacular views of towering red stone cliffs, lush wetlands and evergreen forests. The area is an excellent gath...

Aspen, Colorado

Single Family Home, Plenty Of Room

• TurnKey photo-verifies this home is professionally cleaned with products approved by the EPA for use against COVID-19. •This spacious 4BR/4.5BA single-family house is the Snowmass Village rental ...

From $449/night

Aspen, Colorado

100' To Slopes! Roomy Snowmass Home With Hot Tub

• TurnKey photo-verifies this home is professionally cleaned with products approved by the EPA for use against COVID-19. •Skiers and snowboarders will love this multi-level 4BR/4BA + den Snowmass h...

From $338/night

Snowmass Village, Colorado

Aspenwood Gem With Pool, Hot Tubs & Sauna

• TurnKey photo-verifies this home is professionally cleaned with products approved by the EPA for use against COVID-19. •This ground-level 3BR/3BA Aspenwood condo sits adjacent to all the action a...

From $254/night

Nearby Adventures

  • Hike to Crater Lake

    The crater lake trail begins at Maroon Lake and quickly breaks off from the scenic trail at .3 miles. Be sure to follow the signs to crater lake, which will be heading higher into the valley. The trail passes through a beautiful Aspen grove most o...

    3.6 miles 500 ft gain

  • Car Camp at Maroon Lake

    Maybe you've seen the photos a million times before - it's for good reason. Maroon Bells is just stunning. Watching the first rays of sunlight scratch the very top of Maroon Bells and slowly crawl their way down the massive slabs of granite is sim...

    0.3 miles 0 ft gain

  • Backpack the Four Pass Loop in the Maroon Bells

    *A landscape-changing avalanche event has impacted Maroon Creek Road. The event occurred in early March during an active avalanche cycle across the Colorado mountains.  Maroon Creek Road will have a delayed opening this season while Pitkin County ...

    27.1 miles 8000 ft gain

  • Run the 4-Pass Loop in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness

    *The 4-Pass Loop likely won't be doable until July due to the heavy snowpack this year and wet slide danger on the steep pass approaches.Taking on the 4-pass Loop is no easy feat but completely worth the training and effort. The run starts at Mar...

    27.1 miles 8000 ft gain

  • Inspire Your Fall Aspen Trip!

    Autumn days in Aspen are filled with sunshine and nights with crisp cool air. Watch the mountains and valleys turn gold with the changing Aspen trees. Take in the scenery while enjoying scenic drives, hiking through forests, road biking, and exploring our IMBA Gold Level Ride Center recognized mountain bike trails. 




    Learn More