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Upper Ute Trail Out-and-Back

Intermediate
 4.6 (20) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

An out-and-back along a relatively flat spectacular alpine meadow.


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Map Key

3.9

Miles

6.3

KM

91%

Runnable

11,630' 3,545 m

High

10,913' 3,326 m

Low

884' 270 m

Up

891' 271 m

Down

9%

Avg Grade (5°)

110%

Max Grade (48°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Birding · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Alpine ecosystems are extremely fragile. Please use extra consideration and stick to the trail.

Overview

This high alpine run is characterized by unobstructed panoramic views throughout. On a clear day, countless towering peaks will be visible in every direction.

Need to Know

Take a thorough look at the weather report for the day before setting out.

This run is extremely exposed and therefore can lead to multiple issues. In the summer months, afternoon thunderstorms are frequent occurrences. With few to no options for cover, lightning is a real threat up here. Large temperature swings and strong winds should also be on your radar if embarking on this portion of Ute Trail.

Assuming the weather is perfect on the day of your run, make sure to cover up and use proper sun protection as the sun's rays are extremely strong at this altitude.

Description

From the Ute Crossing TH, start running up Ute Trail. The trail is steep initially as you climb about 600 vertical feet to gain the ridge. Once on the ridge, the trail flattens out and stays that way for about 0.75 miles. Given this run's elevation, you'll be above treeline whilst on the ridge, so plan on having breathtaking views on tap throughout.

To the north, views of the Fall River Valley and Bighorn Mountain abound. To the south, you'll be looking down into the Big Thompson River Gorge framed by Stones Peak. At around the one-mile mark, the trail will begin trending upward slightly before descending the saddle to the south of Tombstone Ridge. Keep an eye out for a large, lichen covered boulder next to the trail as you approach the saddle. This serves as the turn-around spot for the run given that Ute Trail begins a three mile, 2,700' descent at this point.

Flora & Fauna

The Alpine Ecosystem starting at elevations from 11,000 to 11,500 feet, depending on exposure, is an area of extremes. Strong, frequent winds and cold temperatures help limit what plants can grow there. Most alpine plants are perennials. Many plants are dwarfed, but their few blossoms may be full-sized. Cushion plants, looking like ground-hugging clumps of moss, escape the strong winds blowing a few inches above them. Cushion plants may also have long taproots extending deep into the rocky soil. Many flowering plants of the tundra have dense hairs on stems and leaves to provide wind protection or red-colored pigments capable of converting the sun's light rays into heat. Some plants take two or more years to form flower buds, which survive the winter below the surface and then open and produce fruit with seeds in the few weeks of summer.

Contacts

Shared By:

Brian Smith

Trail Ratings

  4.6 from 20 votes

#497

Overall
  4.6 from 20 votes
5 Star
70%
4 Star
20%
3 Star
10%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#102

in Colorado

#497

Overall
6 Views Last Month
4,100 Since Jan 30, 2015
Intermediate

18%
0%
82%
0%
0%
0%

Photos

Ute Trail on Trail Ridge, Rocky Mountain NP CO
Jan 15, 2015 near Estes Park, CO
Cairn along Ute Trail, Trail Ridge
Jan 15, 2015 near Estes Park, CO
Lichen on granite boulder
Jan 15, 2015 near Estes Park, CO
Ute Trail and cairn, Trail Ridge
Jan 15, 2015 near Estes Park, CO

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