Day 5: (3 miles)
If you missed Day 1 thru 4 of our guide to the Four Pass Loop feel free to start here. Don’t miss our summary, “A Guide to the Four Pass Loop: Things to Know,” in this post!
The sun rose on the last day of our Four Pass Loop adventure and after 5 days of intense, amazing backpacking we were ready for showers and civilization. It is a straight descent through the woods down to the junction for Crater Lake. This is the first intersection we passed on the first day. At the junction, we returned to Crater Lake for some early morning photos before continuing our descent back down the familiar rocky trail to Maroon Lake where we caught the bus back to Aspen Highlands.
Home Team BBQ: A Great Spot to Refuel
Once back in Aspen we headed directly to the local BBQ place and filled up. Home Team BBQ is our favorite eatery in Aspen. The prices are very reasonable for Aspen and the food is fantastic… although, after 5 days in the woods, McDonald’s sounded pretty good as well. 🙂
A Guide to the Four Pass Loop: Things to Know
If you arrive at the Maroon Bells before 8:00 AM or after 5:00 PM you can pay a $10 access fee and park in the Maroon Lake parking area. Otherwise, you will have to ride the bus in from the Aspen Highlands Ski Area.
- You can purchase your bus tickets inside for $8/person.
- Parking in the Aspen Highlands varies from $5 – $10 depending on the day of the week.
- The last bus departs the highlands at 4:30 PM and departs from Maroon Lake at 5:00 PM.
- There is no camping allowed at Maroon Lake and it seems like it is less and less likely at Crater Lake due to recent bear activity.
- You must carry a bear box large enough for all of your food and garbage. This is becoming a mandatory backpacking item for many of Colorado’s National Parks and National Forests.
You must register and carry a backpacking permit while in the White River National Forest. It is free and you can get it at the office where the buses let off at Maroon Lake. There is some talk of going to a permit system that would limit the daily number of hikers, but as of 2018, this hasn’t happened.
- You are not allowed to camp within 100′ of any lake, stream, or the trail.
- Snow typically covers the trail from October thru late June, so I recommend mid-July thru mid-September. It can snow in this area year-round. We went in August and the weather was great. There is also still plenty of water flowing for filtration purposes.
- As always, use Leave No Trace practices when in this and all wilderness environments.