Day hike ideas in Colorado

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Head

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Going to Colorado for a week this summer and would like to hit a bunch of day hikes near Aspen and in RMNP. Looking to get big views, maybe a hot spring, and some decent roadside camping. Any ideas of some great hikes in that area would be appriciated! :)
 
Try Flattop and Hallet Peak in RMNP, or the Mummy Madness (Mummy Range hike) if you want something long and challenging. Any hike in RMNP has awesome views. My picture is near Chasm Lake with Longs Peak in the background, another nice day hike.
 
For the ultimate dayhike in RMNP consider doing Longs Peak. It is a long hard day with lots of exposure (16 miles RT, 4,800' elevation gain). If you decide to do this incredible hike you will find all the information to get you started here, http://www.nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/longspeak.htm . Please be warned if you have any fear of heights, this is not the hike for you. And it also requires a very early start - usually around 3am. Other wonderful destinations are Sky Pond (10 miles RT, 1,700' elevation gain), Twin Sisters (7.5 miles RT, 2,400'), and Estes Cone - great 1/2 day hike (6.5 miles RT, 1,600').

Dave
 
A shorter version of mummy madness is just do Yspilon, Chiquita and Chapin from Fall River road. Just a few hours, all above 10K feet. The middle peak seemed to be the marmots' times square. Lawn Lake can be a long day hike in the mummy range area. I second Hallette and Flat Top. I did not stay near Aspen but I have hiked Huron, LaPlata and Elbert, popular 14ers on the other side of Independence pass, all as day hikes. Comparable difficulty to Presidential hikes out of Appalachia if you have acclimatized. If you're not, just about anything can knock you on your arse. See 14ers.com for tons of other ideas.
 
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I gather that Mt. Elbert, the highest of Colorado peaks, is not terribly hard in the mid to late summer, the key issue being acclimitization.

and lightning! A clear day can turn bad real fast. I did Longs this past summer and it was a beautiful clear morning, Summited at 900am, back to the Keyhole (13,000ft) around 1100am all with clear skies. As we headed down through the boulder field dark clouds started to build over Meeker. We still had about 1-1.5 miles to go above treeline when thunder started to rumble. Luckily for us, the storm stayed to or south and east and we watched the storm throw lightning off the Twin Sisters. It didn't start to rain on us until we were back in the trees. I never walked a 1.5 mile stretch of trail so fast. The weather called for a 40% chance of t-storms.

Fall River Road will not be open this year due to the major flooding they had so Chapin, Chaquita, Ypsilon may be out of the picture. They are talking about letting hikers on the road but that is a long walk from the Alluvial Fan or the visitors center. The trip to Lawn Lake isn't bad. Not sure about roadside camping. There are some campgrounds in Estes Park and a few in RMNP.

Head, when are you heading out there? I think we are going out this year sometime in August. I usually head out at the end of July but trying it push it another week or two to let the monsoon season calm a bit. Last year I did Greys/Torreys and Longs and hope to check a few more off the list. I was thinking of doing Elbert one day and then Democrat, Lincoln, Cameron, Bross the next day (a short day hike with four 14ers.) I stay in Estes Park for the entire week and usually hike by myself most of the time.
 
and lightning! A clear day can turn bad real fast. I did Longs this past summer and it was a beautiful clear morning, Summited at 900am, back to the Keyhole (13,000ft) around 1100am all with clear skies. As we headed down through the boulder field dark clouds started to build over Meeker. We still had about 1-1.5 miles to go above treeline when thunder started to rumble. Luckily for us, the storm stayed to or south and east and we watched the storm throw lightning off the Twin Sisters. It didn't start to rain on us until we were back in the trees. I never walked a 1.5 mile stretch of trail so fast. The weather called for a 40% chance of t-storms.

Oh for sure. Thanks for the additional intel, Greg. I hope to do Longs before I turn 50, which means by the end of the summer 2016 season. Have read up on it a fair amount. It is a big challenge for me, so I appreciate your voice of experience. Lightning is so big an issue with those mountains, so I hear, that the prescribed Longs day, as doubtless you know, starts from trailhead at 3 am so you can summit by noon, if an average attempter. That wouldn't have worked on your day!

I will follow in my mom's footsteps in the attempt. She twice climbed Longs in high school, with a church group - went to h.s. in Denver, though originally from Arkansas. Second time they got caught in an unexpected blizzard in the boulder field and had to hunker down - needless to say, weather forecasts in the early '60s weren't what they are today. They had to build snow caves and tough it out. She said her legs almost froze, and she left the mountain permanently scarred with a fear of heights, where there had been none before. We lost Mom in '97, and part of my motivation for the effort is to honor her memory.

Anyhow, I always scarf up good info on the Colorado Rockies, especially Longs Peak, so I thank you for sharing a report on your trip. :)
 
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Around Aspen, you should definitely drive up to the Maroon Bells, which is classic Colorado. Climbing/Hiking the Bells is a pretty daunting undertaking, but you can (relatively) easily hike up to Buckskin Pass for a nice tour of the Bells.
Around RMNP, there a dozens of day hikes that are not as daunting as Longs Peak, some of which were described above. For my money, Twin Sisters is a great hike (moderate length), especially early in the morning. I summitted at dawn once, and was treated to a view of Longs Peak's east face awash in red alpenglow.
 
Someone mentioned Longs Peak. Yeah, GREAT hike but a long one for a day especially when one should start the hike at like 4am the latest. Might be better off going part way up to the Keyhole. A plenty awesome spot to chill and hang out for lunch with plenty of killer views and areas to explore! The amount of granite up there is unbelievable!

Have fun on your trip.
 
ditto for Flattop and Chasm Lake, both great takes. Crowded but nice loop bear,emerald & dream lake out through Alberta Falls. Check for construction on bear lake road, it was supposed to be finished last year, but there was a great deal of flooding in the fall, get out early for this one, Bear lake road was open only to shuttles after 9 am. If you are looking for a nice warm up, relatively flat out to Ouzel Lake, first part can be busy to the falls, not many go beyond that point, some great views along the way, nice mountain lake.
 
Did Mt of Holy Cross 2 years ago. Nice hike, great views, lots of vertical, but even with 2 other hikers, it was VERY creepy. Many stories about hikers disappearing on trail never to be seen again. Even local bars and eq shops willing to expand on that, etc. Googled, and is true. How adventurous are you?
 
There are many nice day hikes in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. Out of Brainard Lake you might try Pawnee Peak. Great scenery and a mellow 10 miles. From the 4th of July Trailhead a nice hike would be to Arapaho Glacier and South Arapaho Peak. From RMNP try Black Lake from the Glacier Gorge Trailhead. All 3 of these would help with the altitude adjustment.
 
Lots of great ideas here. Just a couple very general thoughts from one who has hiked extensively in the NE and somewhat less so in my new adopted home: 1. You don't have to climb a 14er to get a great experience. Treeline averages 11500 ft and anything above will have great views. 2. Really, really respect the weather. You can often push on in NY or New England through a thunderstorm, but anything more than a teeny little one here should give you reason to delay or turn around. From 14,000 feet it's often a run of an hour to get to any shelter, in good terrain.

Also, one camping difference is that water (running or not) is not a given unless you are in a place and time that snow can be melted. If car camping, consider buying or borrowing a big container and bringing it from home.

Enjoy!
 
Do stop by the Grottos east of Aspen; it's a crowded roadside kind of place but it's easy to see why it's popular (and won't take long).

Other suggestions I'd have would all be Sangres and San Juans, but nooo, everybody wants to stay in the Front Range or maybe Sawatch, no love for gorgeous areas far away from any people...wait, forget that, nothing to see in the San Juans!
 
Conundrum Hot Springs is near Aspen. Fantastic hot springs - but typically done as a 1-2 night backpack. Certainly day-hikeable though (but very long, something like 18-miles round-trip)

Flattop and Longs Peak are the two classic summit day hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park. Start very early, like 3-5am early.
 
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Do stop by the Grottos east of Aspen; it's a crowded roadside kind of place but it's easy to see why it's popular (and won't take long).

Other suggestions I'd have would all be Sangres and San Juans, but nooo, everybody wants to stay in the Front Range or maybe Sawatch, no love for gorgeous areas far away from any people...wait, forget that, nothing to see in the San Juans!

So, here you are. You can spend 3-5 hours driving to the Sangres or San Juans and enjoy the trip, or 3-5 hours sitting in traffic and fighting crowds on a geographically shorter trip to the Front Range or anyplace along I-70. The choice is yours. :)

No! Bad secret-keeper! No! NO! AAAAAAAAGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!
 

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