Thanks to a vast trail system and some of the most spectacular peaks in the United States, Aspen is an mecca for overnight backpacking trips. Take your pick of spectacular landscapes, from beautiful backcountry wilderness to serene alpine lakes, with any of these amazing backpacking trips around Aspen. And there’s plenty of time to squeeze in one or two before the summer is over.
Wherever you go, however, keep in mind the basics: Whatever you pack in, pack out; check the weather forecast beforehand; and always be prepared for afternoon thunderstorms, a summer staple in the Colorado high country.
1. Four Pass Loop
The popular multi-day route takes adventurous campers through 26 miles of aspen groves, over four 12,400-plus-foot peaks, and among serene mountain lakes. Certain vantage points provide incredible views of two of Aspen’s 14ers, Pyramid and the Maroon Bells. Named for the four Snowmass Wilderness passes that the trail crosses, Four Pass Loop features brag-worthy conquests of West Maroon Pass (12,500’), Frigid Air Pass (12,415’), Trail Rider Pass (12,420’), and Buckskin Pass (12,500’). Starting and ending at the West Maroon Portal, the Four Pass Loop is indeed a true loop. In the summer months, backpackers are treated to high-alpine aspen meadows dotted with brilliantly hued wild flowers, and, in the fall, aspen leaves gleam bright gold as far as the eye can see.
Popular camping areas include sites just below West Maroon Pass, along the pristine Crystal River, Love’s Cabin, the ridge above Snowmass Lake, and Minnehaha Gulch.