Hike Colorados National Parks

Colorado is a wonderful state in which to hike. The National Parks offer many trails for every fitness level. Some are less crowded than others. The beauty of the mountains and lakes entice the hiker to new heights and new adventures. These trails are the best because the Park System maintains them.

Rocky Mountain National Park has many hiking trails. The Hallett and Flat-top Peaks hikes are strenuous but do not require additional climbing skills. They take hikers to the top of the Continental Divide 12,324 feet. The trail begins at Bear Lake and is nearly four and a half miles long. Hikers get glimpses of Long Peak as they ascend. The summit makes one taste the thrill that a rock climber feels when he has reached the top. Flat-top is 0.6 mile above the Hallett Summit. A round trip takes about eight hours.

Serious hikers will find Longs Peak: Keyhole Route a virtual adventure. Hikers attempt this summit only in the summer when no snow or ice hinders them. This is not an easy hike. Hikers need to start early in the morning so they reach the 14,250 foot summit before the thunderstorms hit. It is six miles from the Longs Peak Ranger Station to the Boulderfield. The Keyhole is a mile and a half further.

Backpackers will find the Colorado Grand Loop a cross-country hike with views of the Continental Divide. This 40 mile hike can keep backpackers occupied for a week. The trail starts at the same trailhead as the Hallett Peak Trail. Campsites are available at needed areas. Be sure to pick up a trail map at the visitor center before starting out.

Another destination is the North Vista Trail in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. This is a trail to a canyon. Hikers do not hike into the canyon but rather to where they can view it. It is 7.2 mile round trip and starts at the visitor center on the north rim. Visitors hike to Exclamation Point where the views of Black Canyon are breathtaking. For a longer hike, head to the top of Green Mountain.

A less used but no less spectacular national park is Colorado National Monument.  The Monument Canyon Trail winds through six miles of unique monuments revealing the geology of the area. This area has red rock which adds to its beauty. Pipe Organ, Praying Hands, and Independence Monuments are only three of the monuments hikers will recognize. This area has pine and juniper trees and bighorn sheep pass through the area frequently.

Wherever a hiker walks or climbs, the important things to remember are that shortness of breath is normal because of the high altitude and beauty will surround the area as the hiker finds inspiration and relaxation in this harsh land. Grab a walking stick and hit the trail.