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Four Pass Loop Day 3: Snowmass Lake to Maroon Lake

The final pass of the trip, and a long descent back to the trailhead.

Hiking Difficult

14 km
549 m
995 m
3-4 hrs
Low Point
2.9 km
High Point
3.8 km
Four Pass Loop Day 3: Snowmass Lake to Maroon Lake Map

You'll begin Day 3 at the very bottom of Buckskin Pass, with an approximately 1,484-foot climb in front of you. Thankfully, with fresh legs, the climb to the top of Buckskin rolls by pretty quickly. The ascent isn't nearly as steep or difficult as Trail Rider, and the upper reaches of the climb provide unbelievable views back toward the formidable profile of Snowmass Mountain.


Congratulations, you've made it to the top of the final pass of the trip! This would be the perfect spot to pop a bottle of champagne... if it wasn't so heavy. Be sure to savor this final high point—and with a stupendous view of Pyramid Peak directly in front of you, it's tough not to!

Even though you've made it to the top of the pass, there's still a long way to go—almost 5 miles of descending, in fact. The descent down Buckskin is truly magical, with rushing mountain streams and cascades providing a soundtrack to your hike. Brilliant wildflowers carpet the ground, and you'll continue to enjoy incredible vistas of Pyramid framed by the trees as you slowly hike ever downward.

Once you make the left turn near Crater Lake toward Maroon Lake, brace yourselves for hordes of day hikers. Since it will undoubtedly be later in the day than when you set off on Day 1, the trail traffic will be much thicker. After a couple of days deep in the wilderness, the dense traffic is a bit jarring, especially as numerous people ask you where you came from, apparently never having heard of the Four Pass Loop before (despite the signs at the trailhead). Regardless, you're on the home stretch—almost back to the car and a cold drink at the trailhead!



Hiking trails where obstacles such as rocks or roots are prevalent. Some obstacles can require care to step over or around. At times, the trail can be worn and eroded. The grade of the trail is generally quite steep, and can often lead to strenuous hiking.

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.


3 out of 4

Little chance of being seen or helped in case of an accident.

Best time to visit

between July and September


  • Alpine
  • Wildlife
  • Picturesque
  • Wild flowers
  • Water features
  • Forestry or heavy vegetation

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area