Dirty Dozen

Colorado12Hiking- it’s really just walking in nature. But what lies around the next bend? What wildlife, natural features, views, and flora will you see? These curiosities are what drive every hiker, and Colorado has some of the best hikes in the country to satisfy them.

Grand County- Rocky Mountain National Park

  1. Big Meadows- This hike in Rocky Mountain National Park is known for its abundant wildlife and is an easy to medium difficulty. We saw nine moose on this hike alone. Take the Green Mountain Trailhead.
  2. Emerald Lake Trail- This popular one is characterized by stunning peaks reflected in alpine lakes. Enjoy an abundance of wildflowers in the summer.
  3. Chapin-Chiquita-Ypsilon- This alpine hike has lots of climbing, but lots of reward. View the summit from of your choice of three mountains. Climb Ypsilon Mountain, the fifth highest mountain in the park.
  4. Colorado_7Bluebird Lake- View three waterfalls along this hike. Bluebird Lake itself lies beneath Ouzel Peak along the continental divide. What a sight!
  5. Sky Pond- Not for the faint of heart, hikers will need to scramble alongside Timberline Falls to reach their destination. Sky Pond is surrounded on three sides by sheer rock.
  6. Ute Trail- This one offers a lot of bang for your buck: it’s a relatively flat hike along Tombstone Ridge with panoramic views of Forest Canyon, Longs Peak, Moraine Park, and Estes Park.

Summit County

  1. McCullough Gulch- This popular hike is known for its cascading waterfalls. It starts above 11,000 feet, which means you’ll see snow in the summer, but the short 2.6 mile roundtrip length makes it a good one for families.
  2. Mohawk Lakes- Another easier one for families, this trail ascends 1,700 feet past a waterfall and a handful of old mining structures. Keep hiking for excellent views of the valley.
  3. Mount Quandary- This is not for the casual hiker. Ascend 3,500 feet in three miles one way. The view from the top is worth it, with deep views of jagged peaks all around.
  4. Peak 1- This trail has been described as “lung busting,” so if you’re a serious hiker looking for a serious Colorado hike, ascend to 12,805 feet in elevation and be rewarded with views of Buffalo Mountain and the Gore Range.
  5. Bald Mountain- Another high altitude burner, this one goes to nearly 14,000 feet, but at a shallow incline. Prepare for higher winds and possibly chilly temps in the exposed area above the tree line.
  6. Buffalo Mountain- If you come through the Eisenhower Tunnel on I-70 heading west, you’ll immediately see Buffalo Mountain as you exit. This 12,777 foot monolith has an imposing façade, and it’s an equally difficult hike to the top.

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About the Author

About the Author: Pat Barcas serves as staff writer and photographer for RTX Traveler Magazine, based in Asheville, NC. In his spare time he enjoys photography, astronomy, hiking, hanging out with his family and dog, and of course, traveling! His favorite RTX spots to visit are Orange Beach, Alabama, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, but he's visiting new places all the time. .

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