Hiking Rocky Mountain National Park: Summit Climbs
Sometimes you're just looking to gain some elevation and you want to reach the summit of a mountain. There are many great peaks to climb in Rocky Mountain National Park. You can find something that you can knock out in a few hours or you can go for an all day climb of Long's Peak. Regardless of what you're looking for, you'll find it within the park boundaries.
Long's Peak dominates the sky line of Northern Colorado. It's the tallest peak in the area at a total elevation of 14,259 feet. The summit of Long's Peak is a popular destination for summertime adventurers. The easiest route to the summit, the Keyhole Route, requires an elevation gain of over 5,100 feet over the 7 miles (one way) hike.
The Keyhole Route requires some mild scrambling and offers some exposure. You won't need a climbing rope but you will need to be prepared to climb some sections with your hands and feet. This trail takes you beyond normal hiking but the reward of reaching this beautiful summit is well worth it as long as you are prepared. Learn more about this trail here: Climbing Long's Peak.
Hallett Peak (12,713') is the back drop for many family photos taken at Rocky Mountain National Park's popular Bear Lake. The jagged peak has gnarly cliffs that drop off into the Bear Lake area of the park. However, there is a nice gentle slope on the west side of this peak. The round trip hike is about 10 miles with an elevation gain of 3,238 feet.
The easiest way to climb Hallet Peak is to start at the Bear Lake parking lot and climb up Flathead Mountain. There are gentle switchbacks that make Flathead Mountain an easy hike. Once you've reached the summit of Flat Top, you can easily follow the ridge to the summit of Hallett Peak. If you are looking for a bigger adventure, keep following the ridge, you can also hit the summits of Otis Peak, Taylor Peak and Powell Peak.
If you are looking for something a little easier, Estes Cone is a fun mountain to climb. At just 11,002 feet in elevation you only have to gain 1,577' of elevation to reach the summit. The total hike is just over 6 miles round trip from the Long's Peak parking lot and it offer great views of Long's Peak and the surrounding area. This is a great hike and I rarely see many people on this trail. It's a great way to get away from the crowds of other areas within Rocky Mountain National Park.
Chapin, Chiquita and Ypsilon
Here's your opportunity to climb three peaks and spend an amazing afternoon above tree line. Take Old Fall River Road (a one-way gravel road) to Chapin Pass. From the parking area at Chapin Pass you can follow a pretty well maintained trail to the Summit of Mount Chapin (12,454'). The trail may disappear but you can easily continue on the the summit of Mt. Chiquita (13,069') and finally on to Mount Ypsilon (13,514).
The views from these peaks are amazing. You have a close up view of the Mummy Range as well as great views of the plains to the east. Most of this hike is above treeline so you are exposed to lightning and other hazardous weather as well as a great deal of time over 13,000 feet in elevation so be sure to bring plenty of water.
There are many great mountains for hiking Rocky Mountain National Park. I thoroughly enjoyed the hikes mentioned above but there are many more hiking trails within the national park that will get you to the summit of mountain peaks, lakes, waterfalls and other destinations. Whether you try one of these top 5 mountain climbs within Rocky Mountain National Park or take other trails, be sure to enjoy your time in this beautiful area.
Also check out our Top 5 Day Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park.