A long sustained climb gaining over 4,300-ft. in 7.0 miles leads to a scenic pass with fine views of the Willow Lake Basin and beyond. The upper section of the trail passes through huge meadows rimmed by red-cliffs and multi-hued peaks.
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Why Hike East Snowmass Trail
This hike is recommended for fit, well acclimated hikers who are looking to get off the beaten path and cover some new ground in the Maroon Bells. The trail is long and demanding, with a sustained climb of 4,300-ft. over 7.0 miles. You will spend over half the hike ascending through trees with limited views. The peaks surrounding the East Snowmass Valley are not as grand as you see on the hikes to Buckskin Pass or West Maroon Pass, but you will experience of level of solitude not found on the more popular hiking trails in the wilderness.
The reward for the sustained climb is unveiled in the upper section of the valley where the trees give way to vast meadows surrounded by red-rock cliffs and peaks. As you crest the pass the Willow Lake Basin springs into view. Pyramid Peak (14,018-ft.) and the high peaks lining the east side of the East Maroon Creek valley tower above the scene to the south. On a clear day the tip of Castle Peak (14,265-ft.) is seen in the distance.
The trail can be used for an out-and-back day hikes or extended into a backpack that loops over Willow and Buckskin Passes with a return via the Maroon-Snowmass trail down Snowmass Creek.
Be forewarned that this trail is popular with hunters in the fall. Dress accordingly.
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