“A large loop through the Longs Peak valley, featuring rugged landscapes and high altitude trails.
— Jeff Williams
Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife
A really nice longer loop through Rocky Mountain National Park passing through multiple zones and terrain. If you plan to do this in a single day, start early and be prepared for unexpected weather at high altitude. This could also be done as a multi-day backpacking trip as there are many campsites along the way.
You'll leave from the Longs Peak ranger station, climb up the Longs Peak trailhead and past Chasm Lake
for 5.9 miles up to the Keyhole boulder field then drop into Glacier Gorge on North Longs Peak Trail
, winding over to the Storm Pass Trail
. There are opportunities for some variation, including adding in an ascent of Longs Peak - Keyhole Route
for the very motivated.
Need to Know
High altitude running through a variety of changing mountain terrain. Summer months are recommended. No dogs in RMNP. There is no fee at the Longs Peak ranger station, but the parking fills up very early. You can find water for filtering. Be prepared for a long day in the mountains. The trailheads around Glacier Gorge are very popular tourist areas. There are portions popular with horse riders.
The majority of the climbing occurs in the beginning as you head up towards the boulder field below the keyhole route. There are water sources throughout for filtering. The sections past glacier gorge are popular with horses and the quality of the trails in that part can be dusty in the hot months. There are restrooms at the Longs Peak ranger station, parking fills up early.
Start from the Longs Peak ranger station at 9,400 ft and head up the Long's Peak Trail (Longs Peak - Keyhole Route
). Most of the altitude is gained here. You'll head past the Chasm Lake Trail
(stop for some great photos of the Diamond on Long's Peak) and continue to Granite pass, reaching the max altitude of a little over 12,000 ft. From there, look for the North Longs Peak Trail
turn off and head down North Longs Peak Trail
all the way into Glacier Gorge. This trail can be a bit more washed out and can be wet. This drops through the valley and has really nice views of the Glacier Knobs valley.
Continue on to the Glacier Creek Trail
. This area has wider trails that are more heavily used by day-hikers. Expect some crowds here as you pass waterfalls and viewing areas along the way down to the Glacier Basin Trails.
In this area some options exist, I used the Glacier Creek Trail
, passing Sprague lake and over to the Wind River Trail
connector to join the Wild River Trail
to add a short loop around and back to Storm Pass. The trails here passes campgrounds and equestrian areas, expect horses and a fair amount of wear on the trails from them - this area is lower altitude pine forests. From Storm Pass, head down, passing the Estes Cone Trail
(you can add in a short side trail to summit the cone) onto the Eugenia Mine Trail
to the turn off for the Longs Peak Ranger station and your car.
Flora & Fauna
Views of Longs Peak from the Chasm Lake Trail
, wildflowers, high alpine tundra, and a high potential for some alpine wildlife. The terrain and plant life changes as you cross through various altitude zones.