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

Rate this Adventure Colorado Maroon-Snowmass Trailhead

Added by Jason Hatfield

One of the most incredible running loops in North America featuring the awe-inspiring Maroon Bells, verdant alpine valleys of wildflowers, and 4 mountain passes over 12,000 ft!

Taking on the 4-pass Loop is no easy feat but completely worth the training and effort. The run starts at Maroon Lake and heads up to Crater Lake where the loop splits left or right. Counter-clockwise is the preferred direction as it allows you to tackle the harder passes first. You'll go over the 4 following passes: Buckskin @ 12,500 ft, Trail Rider @ 12,420, Frigid Air @ 12,415 ft, West Maroon - 12,500 ft. There's a fair amout of distance and elevation drop between the first 3 passes but Frigid Air to West Maroon is relatively short.

The best time to run the loop is early July to mid-September; the high passes typically don't melt out before then and the chance for heavy fall snows increases dramatically towards the end of September. With much of the trail above treeline, afternoon thunderstorms are a frequent risk, never go over a pass in one. Typical time to finish with lots of stops for photos is 8-10 hours.

Elevation profile and run map:

This is one of the most used trails in Colorado so with that in mind please be respectful of hikers and backpackers. If you're running with a dog leashes are required, the trails are patrolled regularly from Maroon Lake to Buckskin or West Maroon Pass. With that in mind you will see off-leash dogs, just don't be that person who lets their dog run far ahead or off-trail.

For the multi-day backpacking trip, check out this adventure.

Pack List

  • Running shoes
  • Running layers
  • Lightweight rain jacket
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug repellent (optional)
  • GPS Watch
  • Running vest or pack with water bottles or bladder
  • Running food & snacks (PB&J recommended!)
  • Water purification (Steripen recommended)
  • Headlamp
  • Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Map or GPS
  • Trekking Poles (optional)
  • Running Gaiters (optional)
  • Running leash if bringing dog
  • Small digital camera or phone to take photos of the incredible scenery!
Read More




Skill Level:




Trail Type:



27.1 Miles

Elev. Gain:

8000 Feet


Dog Friendly
Picnic Area

Are we missing something?

Suggest an edit

How to Get There

Have you done this adventure? Have something to add? You could be the first to leave a review!

Added by Jason Hatfield

Adventure and travel photographer based out of Denver, Colorado. I teach photography workshops and offer private guiding around the west. More at

More Adventures Nearby

Hike Arthur's Rock in Lory State Park

Colorado / Arthur's Rock Trail trailhead

The climb to the summit of Arthur's Rock in Lory State Park provides relative isolation and solitude just 30 minutes from downtown Fort Collins along with great hiking, trail running, mountain biking.

Josiah Roe
3 Saves

Hike Mt. Elbert via Black Cloud Trail

Colorado / Black Cloud Trailhead

Directions:  Heading south from Leadville from U.S. 24: West on CO 82 for 10.5 miles to a hidden right turn that leads to a trail head. If you make it to the Mt.

Mike Stevens
2 Saves

Hike to Nymph Lake

Colorado / Bear Lake Trailhead

While not as popular as Dream Lake, Nymph Lake is just as beautiful. The hike to Nymph Lake is an easy hike just over 1 mile.

Nick Souvall
14 Saves