The British call it “tramping,” walking from village to village and sleeping at inns and eating at pubs along the way. Call it what you want, you can find the same experience here in the mountains of Colorado. All you need is a daypack, your hiking essentials and a credit card (leave the tent and sleeping bag at home). Not sure where to do it? Devotees of Colorado tramping have ground-tested these town-to-town hikes in the Centennial State:
Aspen to Crested Butte. Try this summer classic in July and August when the wildflowers hit peak bloom. Via the West Maroon Creek trail, this 11-mile trip racks up 3,000 feet of elevation gain. It’s essential to reserve a shuttle to and from the trailhead on the Crested Butte side, since it’s 14 miles out of town. The East Maroon Creek trail provides another option between Aspen and Crested Butte. It’s about 16 miles long, but with a more moderate grade and fewer users than West Maroon. From Aspen, take Maroon Creek Road off of Highway 82 to access both trailheads at Maroon Lake.
Vail to Minturn. This 11-mile hike climbs 2,000 feet. Starting from the summit of Vail pass, it follows the Two Elk trail over Two Elk Pass. Take in Sound-of-Music views of the Gore Range, Sawatch Range and Vail’s Back Bowls as you hike to some of Colorado’s tastiest Mexican food in Minturn, roughly a mile from trail’s end along the road to the town.
Nederland to Winter Park. Surprisingly, the stunning 16-mile hike along the Arapaho Pass trail through the Indian Peaks Wilderness only accumulates 2,000 feet of elevation gain on its way to the other side of the Continental Divide. You’ll enjoy a nice forested stretch as well as mountain vistas on this long walk that starts at the Fourth of July trailhead outside of Nederland and ends at Monarch Lake on the west side. Arrange a shuttle or taxi from Monarch Lake into Winter Park or Granby for lodging.
Breckenridge to Copper Mountain. Nearly 13 miles long, this trek follows Segment 7 of the Colorado Trail, climbing 3,600 veritcal feet, and taking you to the backbone of the Tenmile Range along the way. Start in Breck at the Goldhill Trailhead off of Highway 9. After arriving in Copper, the free, convenient Summit Stage bus from Copper to Frisco to Breckenridge offers a return option. You can also hike back the way you came or walk to Frisco, six miles on the relatively flat, paved bike path. Bonus: It doubles as a wild mountain bike ride.
Estes Park to Grand Lake. Starting at the Bear Lake trailhead on the Estes Park side of Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP), the high-ranging Flattop Mountain trail takes hikers 4.5 miles to the top of 12,324-foot Flattop Mountain. If you want to tramp, the trail then continues 12 more miles to Grand Lake on the west side of the RMNP. It includes a reasonable 2,850-feet elevation gain over those 16.5 miles, and the traverse of the park is truly adventure-filled and wild. Bonus: You’ll likely see wildlife—everything from bighorn sheep to moose—on this epic walk.
A new website, daypackadventures.com, provides detailed information on each of these hikes and invites users to suggest others.