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Best Hikes Near Denver
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Matt Hall
(canopycamper) - M

Locale: Southeast
Best Hikes Near Denver on 04/05/2010 20:31:26 MDT Print View

A friend and I from the sunshine state (both BPL members) are planning a trip to Colorado in late August to early Sept. We are trying to do a budget trip flying into Denver and getting a family member or friend to shuttle us to and from the trailheads. Aside from a one day hike in RMNP last year before I hiked Philmont with my son, neither of us have ever hiked in Colorado.

We are looking at doing a 7 day hike and will need a couple of those days to adjust to the altitude. What suggestions do you have for good week long hikes within 90 minutes of Denver? We were considering RMNP but there are lots of tourists on the popular trails there. Any suggestions? Any advice?

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Best Hikes Near Denver on 04/05/2010 20:48:49 MDT Print View

RMNP. This is not my trip, but one that caught my eye. The drive over Trail Ridge Road is memorable, especially if done mid-week. If that is too much of an imposition on the shuttle folks consider an out and back.

Like every NP, the density of people falls off with the square of the distance times the cube of the change in elevation from the parking lot.

todd h
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: SE
Re: Best Hikes Near Denver on 04/05/2010 21:25:00 MDT Print View

Thanks Greg!

I'm going with Matt on this trip and we are very excited to hike in areas we haven't been. That said, we are aware of potential limitations of not training for the altitude.

A little background to help solicit input:

We aren't nooB's, but the majority of our hiking isn't in the most rugged terrain. For example Matt & I recently completed a 30-mile, 2 night trip on the Pinhoti Trail with elevation under 3k. There were quite a few climbs, but nothing of too long duration.

Thanks all!

Edited by funnymoney on 04/05/2010 21:25:40 MDT.

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: Re: Best Hikes Near Denver on 04/06/2010 05:57:43 MDT Print View

I've been researching the same thing and have seen many suggestions for the Lost Creek Wilderness SW of Denver. Searching here will pull up several trip reports and/or loop suggestions.

Christopher Plesko
(Pivvay) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: Re: Re: Best Hikes Near Denver on 04/06/2010 08:54:52 MDT Print View

RMNP can be pretty darn desolate if you get away from the main and easily accessible trailheads.

I had this in mind as a dayhike or overnight but you could easily stretch it out.

Aaron Armstrong
(traderaaron) - F

Locale: Colorado
90 minutes from Denver, rugged mountains, few people on 04/06/2010 09:13:48 MDT Print View

May I suggest the Gore Range. 90 minutes or less from Denver and right off the interstate but a whole different world than most of the close to Denver areas. The mountains are some of the most rugged and beautiful in the state, great wildflowers, wildlife and when you get away from Vail and Silverthorne very few people really.

Trailheads start right in East Vail for some great trips.

The only reason I don't really like RMNP is the permits you have to get and the designated campsites. Indian Peaks is a lot like RMNP but all you need to do is pickup a backcountry camping permit at any number of locations, no reservations needed. Several great trips there too and the farthest from Denver is probably 2 hours or so.

PM me if you want any specific trip ideas in the Gore Range.

Matt Hall
(canopycamper) - M

Locale: Southeast
Great Recommedations on 04/06/2010 09:20:48 MDT Print View

Thanks Greg, Micheal and Christopher for your excellent recommedations. The two trip logs and video were great! Christopher, you have got to be kidding about a 42 mile day hike over Long's Peak. I must have missed something there.

My concern about these areas is the probability of snow complications in the late August and early September time frame. What is the probability of new snow and snow storms in that time frame in RMNP? Todd and I are not accumstomed to natigating steep snow banks. I don't have crampons or an ice axe. Is that critical? I also noticed that the higher elevations don't seem to have clear trails. Is that a problem to nativate if you are not familiar with the area? Is the treck over Long's Peak in the video non-technical? I thought so, but was not clear on that.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Snow on 04/06/2010 09:39:40 MDT Print View

Lost Creek has the advantage of low elevation if its snowing but I would guess you would be okay in RMNP or Indian Peaks for the most part. I'm a fan of Indian Peaks. My first backpack as a kid was from Grand Lake (I think) to Brainard Lake on the other side of the mountains. This would be short for you but you can connect to other trails for a loop and side hikes.

Aaron Armstrong
(traderaaron) - F

Locale: Colorado
Keplingers Coulouir on 04/06/2010 09:51:05 MDT Print View

Keplingers Coulouir route up Longs may not be the best for someone that hasn't done any alpine routes before. It is relatively steep and has some exposed sections and if you have to carry your backpack it may be more than you bargained for.

Christopher Plesko
(Pivvay) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: Keplingers Coulouir on 04/06/2010 10:42:54 MDT Print View

True Aaron. Keplingers is harder than an easy hike I suppose but if it comes near the end of the trip maybe the packs won't be so heavy? There could be snow in Keplingers in Aug/Sept but it would likely be new stuff. I'm pretty sure Keplingers melts out completely every summer. It would probably be a no-go if it was snowy for you guys but if it's dry it's really not that bad IMO compared to any other class 3 route.

And no I'm not joking about it as a day hike.

The Indian Peaks Wilderness is also wonderful but I don't have any recommended loops that I've done that aren't semi technical. But going over my Lone Eagle peak from Pawnee Pass is beautiful and should be just a hike that time of year.

It can obviously snow a lot in late August or September. It's just the luck of the draw with the weather.

Dondo .

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Best Hikes Near Denver on 04/06/2010 17:51:25 MDT Print View

If you can extend your travel time to two hours from Denver, you'll have a lot more choices. Check out Dondo Outdoors. Most of the trips there are two to four days but can easily be extended to a week by adding contiguous trails. There are two trips in the Lost Creek Wilderness and one each in the Holy Cross Wilderness, Eagles Nest Wilderness(Gore Range),Indian Peaks Wilderness, and RMNP. I tend to avoid trails in RMNP except in the off-season because of crowds. Lost Creek has a number of loops and it would be easy to design a week-long trip. A few years ago, I hiked the Gore Range Trail from north to south. The northern section has you deep in the trees but there are several spectacular lakes that you can hike to off the main trail. The southern end will have you going over two high passes. Even though Indian Peaks requires permits, it's still worth hiking there because of the scenery. It shouldn't be difficult to put a week's hike together, especially if you add the nearby James Peak Wilderness. My favorite is probably the Holy Cross Wilderness, about two hours from Denver. It's a nice combination of high alpine walking with lower level rambling along Cross Creek.

Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
"Best Hikes Near Denver" on 04/07/2010 17:41:36 MDT Print View

+1 on the Gore Range.

Besides being beautiful, this area has the added benefit of several "exit" points to Dillon/Silverthorne, Frisco, Copper Mtn, etc. meaning that if something happened or someone got altitude sickness, you could get out or get help a little easier than more remote places.

Although I did a 3-day years ago going S-to-N, you could try leaving from North Rock Creek TH (off Hwy 9 from Silverthorne), follow the Gore Range trail roughly south to Copper Mtn, have a cheeseburger and beer at the ski lodge, and then follow the Colorado Trail back towards Keystone or Dillon. Easy I-70 access for your friends/family to pick you up and drop off.

Try this map for a detailed overview of the entire area:

Edited by saparisor on 04/07/2010 17:43:05 MDT.