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Million-Dollar Views on the Capitol Creek Circuit

Escape the throngs of people on the nearby Four Pass Loop and score equally-superb scenery by backpacking the Capitol Creek Circuit instead!

Alpine Climbing, Hiking Moderate, Difficult

Photo: Jason Weiss


"The Capitol Creek Circuit is a fantastic alternative to the well-known Four Pass Loop,” writes Jason Weiss. "The circuit features fewer people and goes by some of the most spectacular scenery in Colorado, such as Capitol Peak.”

The million-dollar views on the Capitol Creek Circuit just keep coming, too! From whispering aspen groves, to fields of colorful wildflowers, to the most beautiful alpine lakes in the state (if not the world), and towering 14,000-foot mountain peaks, this backpacking route is a feast for both the eyes and the lens of your camera!

"You can start this multi-day backpacking loop from a few different trailheads: the Capitol Creek trailhead or the Maroon Snowmass trailhead,” writes Weiss. “You could also begin from the Maroon Lake trailhead and combine the Capitol Creek Circuit and the Four Pass Loop for an even longer route.”

That said, the guidebook shown here focuses solely on the Capitol Creek Circuit. However, it does include optional ascents of both Capitol Peak and Snowmass Mountain. Note that Capitol Peak is one of the deadliest mountains in the state of Colorado, and isn’t to be taken lightly. Similarly, Snowmass Mountain is also quite technical, and usually features snowfields that must be crossed.

However you choose to combine these segments and peak climbs, you are guaranteed to have the backpacking trip of a lifetime on the Capitol Creek Circuit!

Note: The White River National Forest has recently instituted a permit system in this area of the national forest. Camping reservations for the Capitol Creek Circuit must be made online in advance on Recreation.gov. Approved bear food storage containers are also required and are strictly enforced.

Routes included

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