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Boulder, CO

A guide to the wilderness of the West.

Two Runs

Blog

Two Runs

Derek Bartz

Completed two classic Colorado trail runs the past two weekends, the Four Pass Loop in the Elk Mountains outside of Aspen and the Pawnee-Buchanan Loop in the Indian Peaks Wilderness.  I had previously backpacked both of these as overnight trips before and was super psyched to tackle them back to back weekends.  These runs are popular for a reason and didn't dissapoint; definetly two I will come back to in the future.

Four Pass Loop:
Trip Date: July 11, 2015 
Location: Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness
Miles: 26
Vert: 7,500' 
Start/Finish: Maroon Lake
Season: July-October
The Elks continue to impress with every visit.  July in the Aspen area is especially scenic.  Mountain sides of flowers and bright green tundra are around every corner, puffy cumulous clouds line the sky up on the passes.  Going counter-clockwise, the 26 miles went smoothly for the most part, with only some minor bonking occuring on the climb up to West Maroon Pass (the easiest and last pass of the day).  The trails were muddy, the weather was perfect, and I had way too much food in vest (didn't even take a bit of the pizza!).  The post run parking lot party with a few Golden friends may have been the highlight of the day though.

Pawnee-Buchanan Loop:
Trip Date: July 18, 2015 
Location: Maroon Bells-Snomass Wilderness
Miles: 26
Vert: 6,500'
Start/Finish: Mitchell Lake TH 
Season: July-October
Big runs back to back weekends; I like it.  With the parents in town I kept it local, making the 45 minute trip up to Mitchell Lake TH (I live in a beautiful place).  Plenty of techy sections of trail on this loop keeping this interesting.  Caleb has ran this loop a number of times and had me dreaming of a sub 6 hour finish most of the day; next time.  Highlights of the day were the descent down Pawnee, a 20 min picnic in Fox Park, and the view of Longs from the shoulder of Mt. Audubon.