A couple of weeks ago while backpacking in Rocky Mountain National Park, my shoulders were beginning to get sore from my heavy backpack when two women passed me on the trail. They had tiny day packs with nothing but water, a snack and a rain jacket. They were pretty far in for a day hike, so I had to ask.
It turns out they were going to cover the exact same miles and terrain we planned, but they had a reservation to stay at a lodge. Imagine a full day of hiking then dinner in town, a comfortable bed, a shower, a warm breakfast then another full day of hiking. All that without the pain of carrying everything they'd need. Maybe I wouldn't hate backpacking if I followed their lead.
This particular trip begins at Bear Lake within Rocky Mountain National Park. You hike about 4.5 miles up to the Continental Divide at summit of Flattop Mountain then all the way to Grand Lake for about a 17-mile day. In Grand Lake, you can easily walk a few minutes from the national park trails to a lodge or hotel.
You can easily grab a couple cold beverages and a tasty meal before retiring to your comfortable room. Get a good night's sleep, take a long warm shower then grab eggs, bacon, some pancakes and toast along with a cappuccino and hit the trail.
For this trip you can take a loop trail that doesn't require you to cover any of the same trail except for the east side down Flattop Mountain. The two day trip would be close to 35 miles of hiking but without any weight and a good night's sleep, that isn't too bad.
Benefits of this 'European-Style' Hut to Hut Hiking
- Experience the backcountry similar to a backpacking trip
- Save the hassle of carrying a heavy backpack
- Get a great night's sleep in the middle of an amazing adventure
- Take a shower and stay clean on a backcountry adventure
- People who don't like sleeping outside can experience longer days in the outdoors
The Bear Lake to Grand Lake Loop in Rocky Mountain National Park is just one example. The concept is very similar to the European-style hut-to-hut hiking. Where else can you hike from town to town or from your car to a lodge then back? In the comments below, tell us some great trails where you could make this concept work.