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Hiking Inn-to-Inn in Estes Park

Phebe Novic, who runs The Warming House in Estes Park with her husband David, also guides hiking trips in Europe and loves that classic Alpine style of Euro trekking wherein a series of trails from one inn to another allow a hiker to wander for days with nothing but a daypack.

“It’s a type of hiking generally not available in the United States,” Novic told the St. Louis Post- Dispatch a year after the trail opened. “Inn to inn walks, however, are unbeatable for someone who enjoys walking but does not want to camp or cannot carry the food and supplies needed for back-to-back overnight trips.”

In 2005, the Novic’s put together a long- distance walking route from Estes Park to Allenspark—a 42-mile route, dubbed the Walter Tishma Way after a St. Louis man who had hiked Longs Peak 113 times and ended up retiring in Estes Park.

“It was just right that we call it that,” Novic says. “It was David’s idea. We could have just called it the ‘High Peak Route’ or some other such thing, but Walter was still climbing it well into his late 70s, early 80s, and he used to come into the Warming House and give us the condi- tions on the trail.”

My wife Jordan and I jumped at the opportu- nity to check out what the Novic’s had created.

After parking at the Estes Park Visitor center, Phebe greeted us, provided a parking pass (since we wouldn’t need our vehicle for the next few days) and loaded us and our luggage into her vehicle. During the drive, Phebe told us about the route and provided suggestions on where to stop for lunch. At the trailhead we pulled out our day- packs and Phebe handed us a card with directions for that day’s walk. Detailed visual descriptions and landmarks along with GPS coordinates, if we felt like punching those in, kept us from taking the wrong trail and we ended up right where we were supposed to at the end of each day: at the inn or bed and breakfast where our luggage had been delivered to our room.

Except for the finale celebration dinner in Allenspark at the Fawn Brook Inn, we were on our own for evening meals. If the bed and breakfast we were sleeping at didn’t serve dinner, there was always a restaurant nearby. Each morning the tour provided a filling breakfast as part of the package along with a sack lunch for the trail and the direc- tions card for that day. When the trailhead wasn’t right out the door of the previous night’s lodging, they provided a ride to start the day.

The standard package is a four-day, five-night combination of trails and lodging, though both shorter and longer options exist. With the stan- dard, Phebe has planned the hikes to build up so that day three, over Storm Pass, is the most dif- ficult. Hikers cover nine miles and gain 2,600 verti- cal feet (with an optional extra 1.5 miles and 700 feet to summit Estes Cone along the way) and pop out at Lily Lake where Jordan and I were happy

to cool our feet before finishing the day sipping a cold drink on the shaded porch of the Baldplate

Inn overlooking the Estes Valley. The Baldplate keeps dinner simple with a soup and salad buffet. Fret not ye who think soup won’t be filling after a big day—a hardy cowboy stew and homemade pies for dessert will quench even the most sav- age hunger.

The last day is moderate as you travel into Wild Basin, with another optional side hike to Ouzel Falls, before descending down into Allenspark where the aforementioned multi- course celebration feast awaits at the Fawn Brook Inn.


The Novics run their inn-to-inn trek under the moniker “Footpaths of the world,” which is based out of their gear shop, The Warming Hut, in Estes Park.The standard four-day, five-night package includes lodging with breakfast, sack lunches on hiking days, luggage transfer, trekking poles during the trip, map and route guide, Rocky Mountain National Park Pass, celebration dinner on the last night at the Fawn Brook Inn and shuttling within the trip and return to Estes Park if needed.The package runs $890 for double occupancy and does not include evening meals other than the last night, alcoholic beverages, trip insurance, and transportation beyond the shuttle service.

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