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Longs Peak Trail

Longs Peak Trail from  Ranger Station:

Quick Facts:

     Distance - 16 miles round trip.
     Elevation gain - 4,855 ft.
     Elevation at top - 14,255 ft.

Trail Maps:

Longs Peak Trail Map

This trail to longs peak passes through three zones - montane, sub-alpine, and alpine. Longs has a unique and imposing form that is prominently visible from much of Rocky Mountain National Park. In fact Longs Peak is a prominent landmark visible for almost the whole trip up I-25 from Denver to Cheyenne, WY - a 110 mile journey. It is capped by a monstrous block of granite whose east face towers nearly 2,500 feet above Chasm Lake, a popular side trek on the way up to the summit.

The distance and altitude involved demand some serious planning ahead for those who wish to summit longs peak. Afternoon thunderstorms are very common, so hikers are advised to be off the summit by noon. This leads to two alternative strategies - start the hike at about 3 or 4 in the morning, or camp out the night before. The second involves a two day hike, and requires some advanced planning to assure a campsite.


The Boulder Field, 5.9 miles from the trailhead, is the most frequently used base camp, although the Battle Mountain campground is also popular. The Boulder Field is about 2 miles from the summit and offers magnificent views of the East Face and the Keyhole. Camping at the Boulder Field is by reservation only, and since there are only 8 sites, reservations are often made months in advance. Reservations can be made in person all year at the Back Country Office east of the RMNP headquarters near the Beaver Meadows Entrance, or at the Kawuneeche Visitor Center on the west side of the park. When open for the season, reservations can be made in person at the Longs Peak Ranger Station or the Wild Basin Ranger Station. Before June 1, reservations can be made by phone at 303-586-4459. Reservations for campsites on Battle Mountain are handled similarly.

The first two miles of the trail lead through a forest of pine, fir, and spruce passing occasionally alongside Alpine Brook. At 1.5 miles in there's an incredible view as the brook cascades below a wooden bridge, but if you start early for the one day hike you may have to wait to see it on the descent. Beyond the brook, subalpine fir replaces the pine, and soon afterwards the forest shrinks to Krummholz, elfin groves. From here the views of the twin peaks to the east and the valley below are truly spectacular.

Longs Peak Trail #1 continued >>     


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