Rambles and Scrambles

Get out on these seven epic hikes this summer.

Chasm LakeRocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

8.5 miles roundtrip, 2,500 vertical feet gain

Why You Need to Do It: There’s no better up-close view of Longs Peak and its towering rock walls.

The Details: At 14,259 feet, Longs Peak is one of the most impressive summits on the Front Range, and its East Face draws rock jocks from across the planet looking for world-class big wall climbing. But you don’t have to summit the peak to enjoy it. The steep but rewarding jaunt to Chasm Lake, at the base of the famed Diamond wall on the East Face, is worth a trip on its own and gives you time to just sit back and enjoy the beauty of the peak.
Don’t Forget: You can camp in the nearby Boulder field for a climb up Longs’ class 3 Keyhole Route the next day.

Mee Canyon – Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness, Colorado

Mee Canyon / Photo by Devon Balet

5.6 miles, 2,149 vertical feet

Why You Need to Do It: You need a little desert fix and want to clamber on some sandstone.

The Details: There are plenty of red rock canyon hikes on the Colorado Plateau that will get your heart rate up (and maybe your sphincter clenched). The appeal of Mee Canyon is that it delivers a little bit of everything—desert arches and alcoves, scary exposure and scrambling, living geologic history—in a hike that’s close to Fruita and Grand Junction. It’s a serious endeavor but also the perfect first canyon for desert-hiking newbies.

Don’t Forget: Bring plenty of water and be forewarned there’s lots of exposed rock.

Mount Elbert – Colorado

Mount Elbert – Photo by Devon Balet

9 miles roundtrip, 4,700 vertical feet

Why You Need to Do It: It’s the highest peak in Colorado, yo!

The Details: While 14,439-foot Elbert may be the top of the most mountainous state in the nation, it’s not a particularly hard hike as far as fourteeners go. That’s not to say the hike won’t wind you as you ascend nearly a mile into the sky from the North Mt. Elbert Trailhead near Leadville—it’s just not technically difficult. And it’s all worth it for the sweeping view from the summit.

Don’t Forget: You can still bike up the peak  from the South Mount Elbert Trail if you really have it in your lungs.

Knife Edge – Capitol Peak, Colorado

17 miles roundtrip, 5,900 vertical feet,
Class 4 climbing required

Why You Need to Do It: It’s one hell of a thrill ride.

The Details: Looking for a classic traverse that will test your mountaineering mettle? The Knife Edge Ridge on 14,131-foot Capitol Peak is a committing, exposed class 4 traverse that requires skills and concentration, though you don’t have to be a 5.13 climber to do it.

Don’t Forget: Far too many people have died on this hike in the past few years, including five hikers over just two months in 2017. Know what you are doing. Tell someone you are going. Have the proper skills and equipment.

Star Dune – Great Sand Dunes National Park

3+ miles, 750 vertical feet

Why You Need to Do It: It’s a bit of the Sahara in Colorado.

The Details: The highest dune in the ever shifting 30-square miles of sand at the heart of Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Star Dune is a fun objective in a unique landscape. There’s no trail of course, just a ramble across the sand—and plenty of options to roll or even sandboard (Kristi Sports will rent you one) down from the top if you so wish. The best option is to take it leisurely and spend a night out under the stars.

Don’t Forget: Plenty of water and shoes that can handle hot sand.

The Teton Crest – Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

The Teton Crest – Photo by Greg Von Doersten

45 miles, 9,681 vertical feet

Why You Need to Do It: It’s the perfect multi-day backpacking trip with stunning views of the namesake peaks in your face and plenty of wildlife.

The Details: This world-class backpacking trip puts you in the deep reaches of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem with everything from meadows bursting with wildflowers to a chance grizzly sighting along the way. You can soak it all in over three to five days or run it in one grueling epic.

Don’t Forget: Bear spray!

The Continental Divide Trail – Canada to Mexico

3,100 miles, 407,708 VERTICAL Feet

Why You Need to Do It: It’s a life-list achievement, one of the big three—along with the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail—long thru hikes in the U.S.

The Details: Established by Congress in 1978, The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (CDNST) stretches 3,100 miles across the backbone of the country from Canada to Mexico, visiting Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico along the way. Colorado claims one of the trail’s big highlights: the Weminuche Wilderness, as well as sections close to civilization in the Indian Peaks Wilderness.

Don’t Forget: You don’t have to do the whole thing. Colorado boasts easy to chomp-off sections of the CDT that you can hike in anywhere from a few weeks to a day depending on your summer schedule. 

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