As the hot summer sun melts the winter snows off of the high peaks, I get the itch to hit the trail, fill my lungs with piney mountain air, enjoy the sight of jagged peaks lining the horizon for miles, then relax to sounds of a gurgling brook beneath a canopy of star studded skies. If you’re like me, you’ll enjoy these mountain loop hikes picked for their alpine scenery, and because they are loops, they can be done without requiring a shuttle driver.
1. Rocky Mountain National Park – Continental Divide Loop
Head for Rocky Mountain National Park’s aptly named ‘Continental Divide Loop’ which makes a circuit of the Continental Divide as it traverses the park from east to west. Discover high altitude peak views of the park’s ranges and lush meadows on this highly popular 25 miles loop hike.
Begin at the Tonahutu / North Inlet Trailhead just north of the town of Grand Lake. Head east following the North Inlet Trail as it climbs past cascades through dense lodgepole pine. Follow the trail as it turns sharply north and climbs steep switchbacks to 12,324 ft. Flattop Mountain where views of the rugged Continental Divide and the park’s densely forested valleys stretch out below. From Flattop Mountain, head west along the Continental Divide Scenic Trail as it follows a broad flat ridge top before dropping south into the forested Tonahutu drainage. Follow the Tonahutu Creek Trail south into a wide valley where Tonahutu Creek waters lush meadows. Complete the loop by returning via Tonahutu Creek Trail.
More Info: For more trail related information, visit the Rocky Mountain National Park Continental Divide Scenic Trail page
Trail Length: 25 mi.
Trailhead: Tonahutu / North Inlet