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Backpack Colorado!

Multi-Day Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park

Multi-day Hikes by definition involve an overnight stay on the trail.  Whether you've got a full backpack, or are going light, these trips allow you to get deeper into the backcountry and see parts of the Park most visitors will never experience. 

Perhaps the best known multi-day hike follows the Continental Divide Trail as it traverses Rocky Mountain National Park.

An Inn-to-Inn hike (common in Europe) is also a great way to combine lots of hiking with the comfort of a bed at night.  Footpaths of the World organizes Inn-to-Inn trips in Rocky.

La Poudre Pass
7.4 miles
Elev. Gain 1501 ft
difficult
Trailhead

Heads north, following the Colorado River to the Lulu City site. .9 mile beyond is the Little Yellowstone trail that heads to Poudre Pass near the north boundary of the Park, the Neota Wilderness, and Long Draw reservoir. 2 backcountry sites.

Lake of the Clouds
6.9 miles
Elev. Gain 2440 ft
difficult
Trailhead

This trail offers a barren and rocky landscape, and the last section is difficult to access. 2 backcountry sites.

Skeleton Gulch
Skeleton Gulch
6.7 miles
Elev. Gain 1840 ft
difficult
Trailhead

Past Lulu City, follow Lulu Creek to junction with Thunder Pass trail. 1 backcountry site up Skeleton Gulch, and 2 near trail junction.

Lake Verna
Lake Verna
13.8 miles
Elev. Gain 1809 ft
moderate
Trailhead

The East Inlet Trail leads to Lone Pine Lake and subalpine forest before reaching the soggy ground around Lake Verna. 2 backcountry sites.

Lone Pine Lake
Lone Pine Lake
11 miles
Elev. Gain 1494 ft
moderate
Trailhead

Lone Pine Lake is past East Inlet meadows and Adams Falls on the East Inlet trail. The lake contains a rock island that once housed a single lodgepole pine in a crack. 3 backcountry sites near the lake.

Big Meadows
Big Meadows
3.2 miles
Elev. Gain 1110 ft
easy
Trailhead

The Onahu, Tonahutu, and Green Mountain trails intersect to form a circle route with a few steep sections of short duration. Big Meadows is a sea of grasses and wild flowers rimmed by hills. 3 backcountry sites.

Continental Divide National Scenic Trail
Continental Divide National Scenic Trail
30 miles
Elev. Gain 3500 ft
moderate
Trailhead

The entire Continental Divide National Scenic Trail corridor is approximately 3,100 miles (4,988 kilometers) long, from the Canadian border in Montana to the border of Mexico in New Mexico, ranging from 4,000 ft to over 13,000 ft in elevation. The 30 miles of trail looping through RMNP pass through beautiful alpine tundra and scenery. 17 backcountry sites.  More on the Continental Divide trail...

Haynach Lakes
8.3 miles
Elev. Gain 2286 ft
difficult
Trailhead

Long, beautiful hike on a trail mostly used by backpackers. Llamas allowed, but no other stock. 3 backcountry sites.

Tonahutu Creek Trail
Tonahutu Creek Trail
13 miles
Elev. Gain 3618 ft
moderate
Trailhead
Horse Trail

Branches south off of the Green Mountain trail through Big Meadows, and connects to the Kawuneeche VC.

Timber Lake
Timber Lake
4.8 miles
Elev. Gain 2060 ft
moderate
Trailhead

The hike to Timber Lake travels through dense forest and crosses several creeks, and uses the flank of Jackstraw Mountain. The rugged terrain of the lake hides the summit of Mount Ida. 5 backcountry sites along the Timber Lake trail.

Onahu Creek Loop
Onahu Creek Loop
6.5 miles
Elev. Gain 1148 ft
moderate
Trailhead
Horse Trail

A quiet loop highlighted by Big Meadows. 3 backcountry sites.

Lawn Lake Trail
Lawn Lake Trail
6.2 miles
Elev. Gain 2447 ft
moderate
Trailhead
Horse Trail

The Lawn Lake trail climbs to a pair of beautiful alpine lakes (Lawn Lake and Crystal Lake) along the course of the Roaring River. The river shows the massive damage caused by a dam failure in 1982 that claimed the lives of three campers. A strenuous snowshoe in the winter. 5 backcountry sites along the trail before the Lake.

Two Rivers Lake
Two Rivers Lake
2.6 miles
Elev. Gain 1125 ft
moderate
Trailhead

Notchtop Mountain provides the backdrop to views in the area. Two Rivers Lake is found along the hike to Odessa Lake from Bear Lake. 1 backcountry site.

Fern Lake
Fern Lake
3.8 miles
Elev. Gain 1375 ft

Pass the famous Arch Rock formations, The Pool, and the cascading water of Fern Falls. A gorgeous lake with views of the Continental Divide (Little Matterhorn and Notchtop Mountain). It is a heavily used area. 2 backcountry sites near the Lake, and 2 closer to the trailhead. More on Fern Lake trail...

Odessa Lake
Odessa Lake
4.1 miles
Elev. Gain 1215 ft
moderate
Trailhead

There are two approaches to Odessa Lake, another magnificent feature of the Bear Lake region: a 4.1 mile route along the Flattop trail from Bear Lake, and a 4.5 mile route from the Fern Lake trailhead. The longer route is also steeper, but you get the pleasure of seeing Fern Creek, The Pool, Fern Falls, and Fern Lake itself along the way. 1 backcountry site.  More on Odessa Lake trail...

Andrews Glacier
Andrews Glacier
4.7 miles
Elev. Gain 2150 ft

Spectacular route to the Divide via Andrews Pass with views of Taylor and Powell peaks. Ascend via the south side. Take the trail to The Loch, and less than 1 mile after the Loch, follow the branch off to the right. 1 backcountry site.

Black Lake
Black Lake
4.7 miles
Elev. Gain 1390 ft

A 2.2 mile continuation of the trail to Mill Lake, Black lake is surrounded by tall cliffs and dramatic peaks. Hike around the lake for lunch. At 10,260 ft snow lasts through June. 1 backcountry site.  More on Black Lake trail...

Boulder Brook
Boulder Brook
3.3 miles
Elev. Gain 1000 ft
moderate
Trailhead

A beautiful babbling brook that tumbles from the tundra into the dark forest below Longs Peak. 2 backcountry sites.

Spruce Lake
Spruce Lake
4.6 miles
Elev. Gain 1515 ft
moderate
Trailhead

Hike past the Arch Rock formations, The Pool, and the cascading water of Fern Falls to reach the spur trail to Spruce Lake. The stroll to the marshy shores of Spruce Lake leads through boulders left by glaciers. 1 backcountry site.

Finch Lake
Finch Lake
4.5 miles
Elev. Gain 1442 ft
moderate
Trailhead
Horse Trail

Great fall color hike through a variety of landscapes, including regrowth from a 1978 burn. Tranquil lake with Copeland Mountain as a backdrop. 2 backcountry sites.  More on Finch Lake trail...

Pear Lake
Pear Lake
6.5 miles
Elev. Gain 2112 ft
difficult
Trailhead
Horse Trail

Copeland Mountain rises dramatically from the edge of the lake. 2 backcountry sites.  More on Pear Lake trail...

Sandbeach Lake
Sandbeach Lake
4.2 miles
Elev. Gain 1971 ft
moderate
Trailhead
Horse Trail

From Copeland Lake, this trail is a steep hike through Copeland Moraine, requiring significant effort due to the steepness of the trail. The lake itself provides a pretty end to the trail. 6 backcountry sites.

Wild Basin Trail
miles
Elev. Gain ft
Trailhead

Provides access to Bluebird Lake and Thunder Lake trails. 5 backcountry sites.

Bluebird Lake
Bluebird Lake
6 miles
Elev. Gain 2478 ft

Former reservoir, excellent wildflower displays. 1 backcountry site.  Horses not permitted on the last 1/2 mile of the trail to the lake.

Ouzel Lake
Ouzel Lake
4.9 miles
Elev. Gain 1510 ft
moderate
Trailhead
Horse Trail

Lightning strike started a large fire in 1978, unique landscape 1 backcountry site.

Thunder Lake
Thunder Lake
6.8 miles
Elev. Gain 2074 ft
moderate
Trailhead
Horse Trail

Great base area for exploring stunning scenery. 3 backcountry sites.

Allenspark Trailhead — Region 5 - South side, known for waterfalls & backcountry

Southern-most trailhead along Hwy 7.  Joins Finch Lake trails.  Parking area is too small for horse trailers - park on the east side of the road.

Horse Trails
Alpine Visitor Center Trailhead — Region 2 - Alpine, known for spectacular vistas

Near the top of Trail Ridge Road (Hwy 34) at the Alpine Visitor Center. Trailheads are located on the East side of Trail Ridge Road, across from the Visitor Center, and from the parking lot.

Ranger Station
Bear Lake Trailhead — Region 4 - Heart of the Park, known for easy access & great views

At the end of Bear Lake Road, 9.5 miles from the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center.  During summer, Shuttle Bus is highly recommended.  Although the parking lot at the trailhead is large, it fills up early in the day during summer.  Elevation: 9.475 ft.

Ranger Station
Picnic Area
Shuttle Bus Stop
Fishing Access
Bierstadt Lake — Region 4 - Heart of the Park, known for easy access & great views

Along Bear Lake Road after Sprague Lake, across from the Storm Pass trailhead.

Shuttle Bus Stop
Bowen/Baker Trailhead — Region 1 - West Side, known for moose & big meadows

About 6.5 miles north(east) of the Grand Lake entrance on Highway 34.

Picnic Area
Fishing Access
Chapin Pass Trailhead — Region 2 - Alpine, known for spectacular vistas

Near the top of Old Fall River Road. About 6.5 miles from Endovalley on the right side (open only in summer, limited parking).  Access to 2 backcountry sites.

Colorado River Trailhead — Region 1 - West Side, known for moose & big meadows

On the west side of Trail Ridge Road across from the Timber Lake Trailhead, about 9.6 mi north (east) of Grand Lake Entrance Station.  Hwy 34 closes here in winter.  Access to 9 backcountry sites.

Picnic Area
Fishing Access
Horse Trails
Cow Creek Trailhead — Region 3 - North side, known for wilderness escape

Cow Creek trailhead is near the historic McGraw Ranch, at the end of McGraw Ranch Road, which can be found north of Estes Park off Devils Gulch Road (Limited parking). R off US34 on MacGregor Ave. 3.5 mi. then L on McGraw Ranch Rd. 2.5 mi. to end. Access to 12 backcountry sites along the northern boundary of the Park, and 2 closer in along the Cow Creek trail.

Coyote Valley — Region 1 - West Side, known for moose & big meadows

South of Bowen/Baker and north of Onahu Creek trailheads on Hwy 34, about 5.6 mi. north(east) of the Grand Lake Entrance Station.

Cub Lake Trailhead — Region 4 - Heart of the Park, known for easy access & great views

From Bear Lake Road, turn R toward Moraine Park Campground; after .7 mi. turn L and follow signs to Cub Lake Trailhead .  Access to 1 backcountry site.

Shuttle Bus Stop
Horse Trails
Deer Ridge Trailhead — Region 3 - North side, known for wilderness escape

From Park Headquarters at Beaver Meadows, drive 4.5 miles on Highway 36 to roadside parking on the R at the Deer Ridge Trailhead, just before Junction with Highway 34. 

East Inlet Trailhead — Region 1 - West Side, known for moose & big meadows

Located at the east end of Grand Lake.  From Highway 34, head east on 278 towards Grand Lake for .3 mile, bearing left at all forks until you reach the East Inlet trailhead parking lot.  Access to 8 backcountry sites.

Fishing Access
Horse Trails
East Portal Trailhead — Region 4 - Heart of the Park, known for easy access & great views

Follow Highway 66 past the YMCA about 1 mi. to its end at East Portal.  Park in the small day use parking area about 100 yds before the road ends.  Access to 3 backcountry sites.  Easy turn-around for horse trailers, with space for 1-2 trailers.

Horse Trails
East Shore Trailhead — Region 1 - West Side, known for moose & big meadows

West of Grand Lake, L onto CO 66. After 1 mi., L into the campground.  Drive toward the lake and turn right into the next campground and park at the Shadow Mountain Dam. 

Picnic Area
Fishing Access
Horse Trails
Fern Lake Tailhead — Region 4 - Heart of the Park, known for easy access & great views

From Bear Lake Road, turn right toward Moraine Park Campground, then left after .7 mi. to the end of the road at Fern Lake parking.  Access to 6 backcountry sites.

Fishing Access
Finch Lake Trailhead — Region 5 - South side, known for waterfalls & backcountry

About 1,000 feet east of the bridge that crosses North St. Vrain Creek to Wild Basin Ranger Station. Wild Basin is about 12.5 miles south of Estes Park on Highway 7.  Access to 5 backcountry sites.

Glacier Gorge Trailhead — Region 4 - Heart of the Park, known for easy access & great views

Less than 1 mile before Bear Lake along Bear Lake Road. SMALL parking lot. Shuttle bus is highly recommended in summer.  Access to 2 backcountry sites.

Shuttle Bus Stop
Fishing Access
Green Mountain Trailhead — Region 1 - West Side, known for moose & big meadows

Located on the west side of the park on US 34, 2.8 mi. north (east) of the Grand Lake Entrance Station.  Northern access to the Continental Divide trail loop through the Park,

Horse Trails
Hollowell Park Trailhead — Region 1 - West Side, known for moose & big meadows

R at Hollowell Park turn-off, about 3.5 miles south on Bear Lake Road.  Shuttle Bus recommended. Access to 2 backcountry sites.  Parking is challenging for horse trailers.

Picnic Area
Shuttle Bus Stop
Horse Trails
Kawuneeche Trailhead — Region 1 - West Side, known for moose & big meadows

Located on the west side of the park on US 34,  Kawuneeche Visitor Center.

Ranger Station
Picnic Area
Lake Estes Trailhead — Region 3 - in Estes Park

Join the Lake Estes trail and the Downtown Riverwalk trail from behind the Visitor Center on Big Thompson Avenue.

Shuttle Bus Stop
Lawn Lake Trailhead — Region 3 - North side, known for wilderness escape

About .5 mile north of Highway 34 past the Endovalley picnic area along Old Fall River Road.  Access to 5 backcountry sites.

Lily Lake Trailhead — Region 5 - South side, known for waterfalls & backcountry

Six miles south of the town of Estes Park on Highway 7, past Mary's Lake.

Ranger Station
Picnic Area
Fishing Access
Longs Peak Trailhead — Region 5 - South side, known for waterfalls & backcountry

At Longs Peak Ranger Station, 7.5 miles south of Estes Park on Highway 7.  Access to 4 backcountry sites.

Ranger Station
Lumpy Ridge Trailhead — Region 3 - North side, known for wilderness escape

Drive north from downtown Estes Park on MacGregor Avenue. Cross Hwy. 34 bypass and continue on  MacGregor Avenue  past MacGregor Ranch to the trailhead parking lot on the left.  Access to 4 backcountry sites along Black Canyon trail.  Designated horse trailer parking spot for 2 trailers with easy pull-around. 

Horse Trails
Milner Pass Trailhead — Region 2 - Alpine, known for spectacular vistas

On Trail Ridge Road at the Continental Divide west of the Alpine Visitor Center and 16 mi. east of the Grand Lake Entrance Station.

North Inlet Trailhead — Region 1 - West Side, known for moose & big meadows

Drive east from Highway 34 on 278 towards Grand Lake, bearing left at the forks until you reach the parking lot. Trailhead at E. end of parking lot. Tonahutu accesses 4 backcountry sites before the Green Mountain trail; North Inlet and southern part of Continental Divide trail loop through the Park accesses 13 backcountry sites.

Horse Trails
Onahu Trailhead — Region 1 - West Side, known for moose & big meadows

Located on the west side of the park on US 34, .5 mile north(east) of the Green Mountain trailhead. Access to 3 backcountry sites.

Rock Cut Trailhead — Region 2 - Alpine, known for spectacular vistas

At the Continental Divide coming up Trail Ridge Road from Estes Park, before the Alpine Visitor Center.

Sandbeach — Region 5 - South side, known for waterfalls & backcountry

12.5 mi. south of Estes Park on Highway 7, R at Wild Basin Road.  Immediately to the R of the Ranger Station Kiosk.  Access to 5 backcountry sites.

Sprague Lake Trailhead — Region 4 - Heart of the Park, known for easy access & great views

On the south side of Bear Lake Road.  Moraine Park Shuttle Bus recommended, stops at Sprague Lake/Glacier Creek Livery.

Picnic Area
Shuttle Bus Stop
Fishing Access
Storm Pass Trailhead — Region 4 - Heart of the Park, known for easy access & great views

After Sprague Lake, on the south side of Bear Lake Road across from Bierstadt Lake trailhead.  Access to 2 backcountry sites along the Boulder Brook trail.

Timber Lake Trailhead — Region 1 - West Side, known for moose & big meadows

Grand Lake (west side) of the Park.  Trailhead is located on the east side of Hwy 34 across from the Colorado River trailhead.  Access to 4 backcountry sites.

Picnic Area
Horse Trails
Tonahutu Trailhead — Region 1 - West Side, known for moose & big meadows

Same as North Inlet Trailhead. 

Twin Sisters Trailhead — Region 5 - South side, known for waterfalls & backcountry

Across Highway 7 from Lily Lake.

Upper Beaver Meadows Trailhead — Region 4 - Heart of the Park, known for easy access & great views

From the Beaver Meadows entrance, pass Bear Lake Road and continue along Hwy 36 until just before the junction with Hwy 34. Left onto dirt road.  Go about 2 mi. to road end.

Horse Trails
Ute Crossing Trailhead — Region 2 - Alpine, known for spectacular vistas

At Fall River Pass along the east side of Trail Ridge Road about 2 mi. below Rock Cut. Limited parking.  Access to 1 backcountry site.

Wild Basin Trailhead — Region 5 - South side, known for waterfalls & backcountry

12.5 mi. south of Estes Park on Highway 7, right at Wild Basin Road.  Take right fork to Entrance station, then 3 mi. to Ranger Station.  Access to 6 backcountry sites.  2 Horse Trailer parking spaces.

Ranger Station
Horse Trails

Footpaths

Kirks MA