Buckskin Pass hike

Aspen
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Buckskin Pass hike

Distance: 10.0mi
Elevation: 3,346ft
Time: 5-8h

Difficulty Rating:

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9.6 Overall Rating
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This hike starts from one of the most photogenic lakes in the entire Rocky Mountains. The gruelling climb up to Buckskin Pass is definitely worth the effort. From its lofty heights you will be completely surrounded by panoramic views.

Buckskin Pass hike Map

Getting there

Head west out of Aspen along Colorado 82. At the first traffic circle take the second exit onto Maroon Creek Rd. Continue along Maroon Creek Rd for 9.4mi until you reach the parking.

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About

When to do

Late June through September

Backcountry Campsites

Yes, along the Four Pass Loop

Toilets

Yes, at trailhead

Family friendly

No

Route Signage

Average

Crowd Levels

High

Route Type

Out and back


Buckskin Pass
Elevation Graph


Route Description for Buckskin Pass hike

From the parking area, or the shuttle drop off point, head down to Maroon Lake. The view across Maroon Lake with Maroon Peak in the background is stunning. It’s one of the most photographed shots in the Colorado Rockies, so enjoy this absolutely stunning vista before starting the work ahead of you.

Continue around the north side of the lake. At the end the lake the trail will begin to climb gently. For another mile or so you will gently gain elevation through sparse trees before you arrive at a junction. Turn right (north), heading up along the Geneva Lake Trail towards Buckskin Pass.

The true climb begins here. You’ll pass over a few switchbacks, traverse to the west for a spell, and then you’ll switchback again. For the most part, you’ll follow one of the creeks that feed Crater Lake.

After climbing for a ways, you will emerge from the trees into a stunning alpine basin. To your left you will see the humongous massif of North Maroon Peak, a notoriously deadly peak due to the loose mudstone that it’s made of. To your right you will look up to an unnamed, nearly 13000ft mountain summit.

Heading directly up the basin you will soon approach the steep flanks of Buckskin Pass. Snow can linger here late into the season, so take care. Switchback up the steep slopes to finally gain the ridge and the unbelievable views it holds.

The most beautiful sight from the pass is across to Snowmass Mountain (14092ft). Snowmass looks as though it has been directly transported from the steep granite cliffs of Patagonia. Below it, you might be able to glimpse the crystal clear Snowmass Lake. To your right you will be able to see Buckskin Point as well.

Finally, after resting your legs for some time and enjoying the splendor of the view, return the way you came.

Insider Hints

  • Thunderstorms are common in the afternoon, so be sure to be off this high pass before the storm clouds roll in.

  • If this is your only experience in the Maroon Bells area, make a detour to enjoy Crater Lake on this hike. At the Y junction past Maroon Lake, head left instead and hike the short path to the incredibly beautiful alpine lake at the foot of North Maroon Peak.

  • For the more adventurous, consider undertaking the entire Four Pass Loop, one of the best backpacks in the Rocky Mountains. Buckskin Pass is either the first or last pass in the loop; depending on which direction it is completed.

  • A fee is required to enter this section of the park, or a National Parks Pass. Note that for most of the summer, Maroon Creek Rd is closed from around 8a.m.-5p.m. If that is the case, you will have to take the Shuttle from Aspen Highlands Ski Area. Contact the National Forest Service for more information on the shuttle.

Comments

Annie Smith 3 months ago

Buckskin Pass was a great hike.

9.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
Lisa B 4 months ago

Loved Buckskin Pass, definitely recommend

10.0 Overall Rating
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kevC 4 months ago

The Buckskin pass was great. Beautiful lakes, forests, lots of squirrels. I think people feed them, they were very used to them being near. I think that's wrong. Look at what happened in Yosemite. The squirrels carry some disease and even attack people to get their food.

9.0 Overall Rating
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Ramiro G. 4 months ago

Amazing hike!

10.0 Overall Rating
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Mikey 4 months ago

buckskin pass trail was an amazing experience. really loved it. it was a good challenge too. the elevation gain really felt on my feet.

10.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
7h 00m Time Taken
5 Comments

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