Create an account

Start your adventure today.


    Already a member? Login

    This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
    This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
    1,020 m
    This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
    16.1 km
    This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
    User Ratings
    These ratings are completed by users who have completed this trail and not subject to reviews by 10Adventures.
    Advanced (Diamond)
    Suitable for advanced experience level looking for a solid adventure.
    Physical DIFF
    Intermediate (Square)
    Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
    Technical DIFF
    Directions to Trailhead

    Buckskin Pass

    Panorama on the Buckskin Pass hike from Aspen, Colorado

    Download an interactive map and guide on your phone today!

    Table of contents

    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.

    Route Description for Buckskin Pass

    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 3,962 m 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 (4,295 m). 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 for Buckskin Pass

    • 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.

    Getting to the Buckskin Pass Trailhead

    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 15.1 km until you reach the parking.

    Route Information

    • When to do:

      Late June through September

    • Backcountry Campsites:

      Yes, along the Four Pass Loop

    • Toilets:

      Yes, at trailhead

    • Family friendly:


    • Route Signage:


    • Crowd Levels:


    • Route Type:

      Out and back

    Buckskin Pass Elevation Graph

    Weather Forecast

    Check Area Weather


    No reviews
    Write a review

    Add a review

    You must be logged in to post a comment.


    Let someone else do the hard work, book a custom tour in over 85 countries.

    Chat with us on our contact page or fill out the form below!

    Nearby Trails

    10Adventures Trail App

    Take your trails online! Keep track of your route along the way.

    Download for free today.

    Get travel inspiration and discounts

    Join our weekly travel newsletter