Best Loop Hikes: Colorado (Best Hikes)

8 Colorado Backpacking Experiences That Should Be on Your Bucket List
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If a three-day trip, I suggest counter clock wise and go over Audubon first. Hi Paul, Thanks for your insights! Last time I was backpacking in the Rockies was at least years ago in my mids. A few things I learned about myself: I should have both conditioned more and left more time to acclimate. It would be a good Idea to start swapping out some of my gear from the 90s for some UL gear. My feet were totally unprepared for the weight I was hauling. I developed sore feet and heel blisters the 1st day and really dampened my spirits for the hiking portion of my days. I will do everything in my power to lighten my load enough to comfortably hike in lite hikers or trail runners…it is time to say goodbye to my all leather Vasque Sundowners.

Great boot but 20 years is enough. Though the hike did not go quite as planned, sounds like it was still an enjoyable one. Hey Paul, I am so glad I found this article you posted! I am driving up to Denver this weekend and am going to do two of your suggested loops with a day of rest in between.

My plan is to start with the Lost Creek Wilderness Loop: I am going to be backpacking this one solo so its mainly regarding this one where I have questions. I will have 3 full days to do the loop and am trying to decide whether to do the 22 mile or the 35 mile loop. I have experience backpacking, am in great running shape run 3 times a week with an mile long run every weekend , but I will be driving up from Texas with one rest day before starting the loop. My biggest concern is altitude, so my first question is whether you would suggest doing the route clockwise as in your article or counterclockwise for easing into it.

My second question is if I were to do the 35 mile loop are there good places to camp below 10, ft. My final question is a navigational one just to be clear: Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.. Let me know what you think, thanks!! Probably another two-three weeks before that area is relatively snow free. In fact, looks like there is a fresh dusting up there this morning. Going counter-clockwise, esp coming from lower elevation definitely would be a little easier for sure. From there hook on the Wigwam Trail.

Wow that is definitely good to know about the two pass loop! As for the LCW, I am super excited about it and am now leaning towards the 35 mile loop…after all I do have 3 nights to do it. My only remaining question is how well-marked are the trails are there signs at every split? I definitely appreciate the quick response, thanks for all of your help! The trails are pretty well signed.

Since we are going to be in Denver and would like to stick to the near vicinity for the backpacking, would the Grand Traverse or Maroon Bells loop you highlight also have too much snow to do this time of year? Is there a good site to check conditions on all of the trails beforehand? The snowpack is rather high in most of northern Colorado. Anything within hrs of Denver at least in the high country is going to have snow this weekend. Calling the individual ranger office is probably the best bet to get snow conditions ahead of time.

I really like the blog. Is the terrain on that cut through trail McMurdy Park very different from the rest of what you see on this hike? Whatever route you take, try not to miss that. We are thinking of doing the shorter hike, but making a detour to hike in and out of that ridge on the second day. We are doing LCW in about a week. Great site for Bison Pk and McCurdy info: We are traveling on July 20th to Denver and then heading into the mountains. Are thinking of doing the Maroon Bells loop and wondering how much extra time we need if we want to summit Maroon Peak.

Thanks for your help! There are actually two Maroon peaks: Maroon is class 4 and may be a bit challenging for you depending on your technical abilities. Maroon is a class 3 hands and feet, no exposure and takes a full day in itself for most people. What do you think? Fantastic site, and I really appreciate both the initial setup and information, and your attentiveness to questions and comments. Thanks for the kind words. Late July is probably best elsewhere indeed. Have fun no matter where the Colorado trails take you! Comfortable with snow but looking for a backpacking trip and not a ski trip or slog through snow.

I know it depends on the year, but are those altitudes usually socked in that late in that area? Any advise is greatly appreciated. Usually not enough snow for skiing; too much for comfortable hiking. I was just looking at some of your trips…. Thinking of a backpacking trip in CO end of May this year. From Seattle and have always wanted to venture out your way.

I have about 6 days to backpack and was looking at trip 5. What are your thoughts here on snow and trail conditions. How do you think the snow will be a the end of May here? How far is the trailhead from the Denver airport? A bit too much snow at the end of May for most of the Colorado high country. Lost Creek Wilderness may be OK.

Depending on the snow pack, northern New Mexico may be better. Check out the Pecos Wilderness for some stunning scenery, alpine lakes and 13k foot mountains. About 5 hrs from Denver.. This blog is so helpful. Thank you for documenting so well and for answering all these questions! Dominguez Canyon near Grand Junction. Grape Canyon Wilderness Study Area. Those are two that come to mind. This Blog is awesome, i am working on planning a hiking trip in the middle of June i would like to to hike three or four days and camp.

Do you have any suggestions? The LCW may work.. I just discovered your wonderful blog trying to plan a CO backpacking trip.

The 20 Best Day Hikes in Colorado

What do you think would be an ideal week to do the trip considering temperature and snow challenges? Next weekend may be better. Probably going to be a fair amount of snow up there due to the dump this weekend though melting rapidly. Snow levels from somewhat in the area http: This is an awesome blog you have set up. I really appreciate all the information you have provided here. The Twin Owls loop may he accessible as well.

Otherwise check out the Pecos wilderness in Northern New Mexico. I am planning a 3-day hike with my son in early June. Looks like I have a plan. It seems like we should have access to water for most of the trip. Can you comment on the water situation? I prefer to go light and carry a filter system than lugging heavy water.

We will have 6 days set aside for backpacking and plan to do the 35 miles in 3 days. My question would be is it worth it to also do the 22 mile LCW loop with the remaining days, or do you have any other suggestions for another loop within a couple hours drive from there that would be better during this time of year? Look at the map for more details. Me and a buddy are thinking about taking the same route you did, the 3 route. We were wondering what you did for water on the trip? I live in NE and will be taking my 17 year old son on his 1st back country hike the 2nd week of June.

I have hiked the south west and mid west extensively but done very little in CO. Where could you suggest for a 5 day hike. In mid-June, most of those loops are going to be snowy. About 5 hrs or so from Denver is the Pecos Wilderness. A very wonderful place. First, thank you for posting that update about the snow. A couple friends and I are planning on leaving tomorrow from south Arkansas to go hike and we were planning on doing the LCW. So you really saved us there. But now that LCW is a no go, do you have any suggestions of hikes that would be available and fun to do?

We will have from Monday-Saturday to hike so we are looking for something maybe a little longer. Or at least somewhere that could occupy our time for a week. Me and 4 friends are flying into Denver from various parts of the country on the 28th. We were hoping to do the LCW hike. Is that really out of the question at this point due to the recent snow? This has thrown a wrench into our plans. Prefer not to be stuck in the car driving too much.

It is hard to find good loops online. Is the Weminuche Pass area an option see link? That is more driving that we would prefer, but if it is open and doable… Is it necessary to drive that far? You may be able to go lower, but it will be sloppy. Currently, at Kenosha Pass, it is 38F and raining and sleet. Your advice was good so thank you. We ended up doing a loop in the Kannah Creek area near Grand Junction. It is a beautiful area. The weather was perfect and not a single other person or group but lots of bear tracks — so have bear gear.

They just made the hike more memorable. Some friends and I are d never bound for three days on the 18th of June. Looks like our options are limited because of the snow. Northern New Mexico may work. Check out the pecos. Also, it has been warm, in the next week, the snow may melt out for the LCW a bit.

We were planning to hike segment 6 of the CT the last weekend of June 25thth. Based on CTF reports, it is starting to appear like Georgia Pass will still be impassable at that time. Looking for an alternative 3-day backpacking trip. It looks like the 35mi. LCW Loop you wrote about in this blog reaches roughly the same elevations.

Thanks in advance for your advice. Some very minor postholing and some route finding. Nothing too difficult, but just something to be aware of. Thanks for the tip Paul! So based on your post yesterday, it looks like LCW may be the best option for the last weekend in June? Whatever research I do on hiking in Colorado, it takes me back to your website. Friends were skiing there this past weekend.

Again, way too early. May want to look into the Lost Creek Wilderness even that will be a little sloppy. As mentioned, mid-July is probably more realistic this year for most CO high country areas. Anyone been out in LCW this past week?

The Four Pass Loop

I was planning on doing the loop mentioned above next weekend and wondering what the conditions were like and if I needed to look into other options. Any ideas would be appreciated! Going to be hot in Grand Junction area proper this time of the year F Saturday! The Grand Mesa will be wet and sloppy and mosquito prone but should be more melted out. Looks to be partly cloud with some possible rain Sunday. About 80F during the day. Trail Illustrated make a nice map. Once in Aspen, you can get a shuttle http: Thanks for all you do for hiking on your website.

I am contemplating a September section hike from Chamas to Lake City. Do you know of any transportation services in that region? If only this hike were a loop! If you can hitch from Lake City to Gunnison, you can get public transit as far as Denver or montrose. On a weekend, a lot of tourist traffic, too. Thanks for the useful information.

Me and 7 of my buddies are planning on a Backpacking trip July 4th weekend. We will start in the morning Friday and need to be out by Monday morning. I am thinking about doing the 22 mile loop you describe in the LCW. Is it possible to do an out and back that would allow us to see the McCurdy and Bison Peak area? Perhaps we could set up camp near that cut-off trail and then do a backpack free hike into the area? Your advice is greatly appreciated! The map will let you know for sure. Also, be aware that the LCW can get very warm at that time of the year.

Thanks for the quick reply. Are you familiar with that area? Not familiar with that route. Warm bordering on hot during the day for lower trails. Cool at night however. Skip to content This article was originally written way back in on an older version of my website. These ideas not enough? Five more Colorado backpacking loops ideas may be found here. These trips are ideal when there is too much snow higher up. A few items to keep in mind about Colorado. It is a great place to be!

Below are in no particular order some backpacking trips I have enjoyed for various reasons. Franconia Ridge in New Hampshire.

Backpacking Loops – Mags Favorites |

The Wind River Range in Wyoming. The canyon country of Utah. Glad you like the info. Paul, This is random for me and has nothing to do with your current conversation. First, I tend to do that loop as an overnighter.. Let me research some Mt. Hi Paul — Thanks so much for this post. If that comes off like a big, fat, humblebrag, well it is.

The wealth of quality hiking adventures in Colorado is nearly limitless. What makes a hike great is in the eye of beholder, but this collection of adventures is a worthy compilation that showcases the best natural settings in Colorado: A personal preference for longer days out between 4 - 8 hours is reflected in many of these adventures.

2. Mount Bierstadt

Best Loop Hikes: Colorado (Best Hikes) [Steve Johnson, David Weinstein] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. * 60 Colorado loop hikes. Five Colorado backpacking loop hikes that will knock your socks off and aspen forest, dense spruce-fir forests, several lakes and best of all.

With that in mind, these hikes offer a variety of wilderness environments across the state and range from simple on-trail walks to difficult—yet non-technical—scrambling assuming the seasonal conditions are free of ice and snow. Please feel free to add some of your own favorites not listed here in the comments! At 14, feet, Longs Peak is the 13th highest mountain in the state and one of the most visited peaks with a notoriously elusive summit. Passing through the Keyhole itself is like shifting worlds into a mountainous kingdom hidden from sight during the 5.

The trail is well-marked and can be crowded on summer weekends, but Longs nevertheless delivers on the promise of incredible views and worthy terrain. A common mistake many aspiring Colorado hikers make is to target Longs Peak before they have the fitness or experience to stack the odds of a successful summit in their favor. The typical descent back to Guanella Pass involves bushwhacking through moose-infested swampland, where 7-foot tall willows create a natural garden maze. Thankfully, this hike follows a good trail 3. The adventure begins atop the paved Lizard Head Pass, about 15 minutes from the town of Telluride.

As views open up, the grandeur of the San Juan Mountains unveils itself, including the impressive profiles of the Wilson Massif. Standing at the base of the crumbling tower an extinct volcanic pipe makes the fact that it was originally climbed in even more impressive. Black Canyon of the Gunnison, an oft-overlooked national park, flips the script by bringing you down rather than up. The easiest of these is the Class 3 Gunnison Route, a vague idea of a trail that has an foot section with a handheld chain for support.

Rivers flow deep along the canyon floor, a shadowy place where the towering walls feel like the entrance to the netherworld. At 12, feet, Bison Peak is a collection of spectacular rock towers built up from a flower-festooned alpine meadow. The Class 1 hiking trail is 11 miles out-and-back starting near the Tarryall Reservoir in the Tarryall Mountains. The gradual hike up to treeline tends to go quickly, and it can get hot and dry in the summer—bring extra water! Thankfully, the summit is a half-mile hike off the main trail across grassy meadows with a few easy hills or rock scrambles to the top.

Once a bit of a secret, this unique peak has gained popularity in recent years, but is nonetheless rarely ever crowded. While most of the hikes in this list ascend mountains, it would be folly to ignore the fun, open-ended hiking at Great Sand Dunes National Park especially from October-May, when the park is much cooler than in the summer.

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Star Dune is the largest of them all, standing at about feet. In the early spring when the rivers run through the fine sand basin, the landscape transforms into a living, breathing desert in a compact package. Wandering among the dunes can be as long or as short as you like it to be—consider it your own personal sandbox.

Though the trail eventually fades out, navigation is relatively easy: With good route finding, however, the standard route will stay at a tricky but solid Class 3. Most hikers start in the blackness of early morning 3 am is a reasonable start time , chugging up a steep headwall to an exciting scramble to the top roughly a mile. Mountain goats are regular spectators, and the rock is solid for Elk Range terrain, especially in contrast to the neighboring Maroon Bells. Views from the flat summit look out over the aforementioned Maroon Bells and several other impressive Elk Range Peaks.

The round trip is about 8. And bring a helmet! Hikers can start at several different trailheads, all within the civilized confines of the city of Boulder. A popular route starts at Gregory Canyon Trailhead near Chautauqua and begins by ascending 3. Weminuche Wilderness Trails Illustrated Map. Head north to the McCurdy Brookside Trail junction. At this point there is an option to cutoff a part of the loop by continuing to Goose Creek via McCurdy Park. Connect to the Wigwam Trail and head east to the Goose Creek drainage where rugged and pink hued Pikes Peak granite has been eroded into a jumble of boulders of immense proportions and others into spire-like formations.

Goose Creek Trail returns you to the Goose Creek trailhead. Lost Creek Loop Map. Lost Creek Wilderness Map. Sam is a lifelong backpacker, wilderness photographer and author. Thinking about hiking the Weminuche Pass trail in early August. Where is the best place to camp on the third leg of the trip? Also, is this a 4 day or 5 day loop trail? Looks like some serious mileage to on this loop: Alternatively, after 4 miles you can turn west and hike to Emerald lake.

I did this with my dog and 2 friends. We had planned on 3 nights but we did it in 2. We started at 2pm and did the full 12 miles to the lake the first day. Next day we only did around 9, and the 3rd day was a pretty brutal 15 miles with tons of elevation gain and loss. Retrospectively, I would have split up that 3rd day as planned and done 3 nights or put in more miles the second day — we just thought we were further than we actually were.

We were hoping to get dropped off at Needle creek south by the train from Durango around 11 on the 21st and make it to the Elk Creek point north by 2pm on the 25th. Lots of animals, and we even saw pine martens. I recommend doing it the opposite way though: The uphill is way more gradual this way. A side trip to lakes Nokoni and Nanita is well worth an extra night in the backcountry. I would check with the park rangers about the trip before heading out, or consider postponing your trip until late July or August.

What is the total elevation of the hike? I am a flat lander as well. It helps me acclimate. Drink a lot of water as well. The hike would start on 3rd or 4th week of September. Wondering if this is too late to be enjoying this area. The hike will be days.

Any thoughts on the weather at the proposed date? Sam, sure could use some advise. Thinking max of ft.