Don’t you think this is an easy enough route? On paper, it’s fairly straight-forward. Park at Bear Lake Trailhead, as big and well-groomed a thrailhead as you will ever find. This trailhead presents numerous options for more pedestrian hikes to various lakes. I took the less-pedestrian trail that runs above treeline to merge into the Continental Divide Trail in a photopunk moonscape of alpine flowers.
I drove through the ranger gate at 6:15am, and it was open for free. Rangers have told me before that parking fills up by 7am. There are other trailheads along the drive, but this trailhead is a great place to start so many hikes. The difficulty of the hike depends on which direction you go onto the Bear Lake Loop Trail.
You take the left trail—the epic hike ends, you see pretty new lakes every mile or so after cresting shallow hills. You take the right trail—you climb this hill, and I show you Colorado from the top. Remember: all I’m offering is the truth.
The trail hits treeline about half way up, time and distance-wise. Treeline is also about two-thirds up the 3000 feet of vertical. The rocks are covered in alpine flowers here that should still be around in late August.
This section of trail, just before cresting Flattop Mountain, is convered by snowpack still. I suspect some of this will remain in late August too, but it’s passable. I’ll have a few pairs of trekking poles for those who want them.
The top is surreal, like Mars with grass and flowers.
The views were great the entire hike. At the top here, you can see Longs Peak behind me. There is an awesome view of the Keyhole and the Ledges on the northwest side of Longs Peak.
I know Nancy, Steve, my brother Steve, and really, most of you could make this hike. It took me a little under four hours. Expect five. Like this post if you’re interested Sunday morning.