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Chapin, Chiquita + Ypsilon (CCY Route)

Rocky Mountain National Park

Northern Front Range, Colorado

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Chapin, Chiquita + Ypsilon (CCY Route)

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  • The Chapin Pass Trailhead offers minimal parking.- Chapin, Chiquita + Ypsilon (CCY Route)
  • Exposed roots near the trailhead.- Chapin, Chiquita + Ypsilon (CCY Route)
  • The Alpine Visitor Center and the Lava Cliffs.- Chapin, Chiquita + Ypsilon (CCY Route)
  • Mount Chapin, the first of three summits.- Chapin, Chiquita + Ypsilon (CCY Route)
  • The view north to the Desolation Peaks and Flatiron Mountain.- Chapin, Chiquita + Ypsilon (CCY Route)
  • Marmot Point, the Alpine Visitor Center, and the Lava Cliffs.- Chapin, Chiquita + Ypsilon (CCY Route)
  • Looking northwest into the Cache La Poudre River valley.- Chapin, Chiquita + Ypsilon (CCY Route)
  • Cross-country travel across the tundra is well-marked.- Chapin, Chiquita + Ypsilon (CCY Route)
  • From right to left, Mount Chiquita and Ypsilon Mountain.- Chapin, Chiquita + Ypsilon (CCY Route)
  • The trail to Mount Chiquita.- Chapin, Chiquita + Ypsilon (CCY Route)
  • The pass between Mount Chapin and Mount Chiquita.- Chapin, Chiquita + Ypsilon (CCY Route)
  • Overlooking the pass between Mount Chapin and Mount Chiquita.- Chapin, Chiquita + Ypsilon (CCY Route)
  • Unidentified species (help us identify it by providing feedback).- Chapin, Chiquita + Ypsilon (CCY Route)
  • The Medicine Bow Range north of Rocky Mountain National Park.- Chapin, Chiquita + Ypsilon (CCY Route)
  • The jagged cliffs of Mount Chapin with Longs Peak in the distance.- Chapin, Chiquita + Ypsilon (CCY Route)
  • Looking southwest over Mount Chapin from Mount Chiquita.- Chapin, Chiquita + Ypsilon (CCY Route)
  • The noble and regal marmot.- Chapin, Chiquita + Ypsilon (CCY Route)
  • Near the summits of Chiquita and Ypsilon, the terrain becomes rocky.- Chapin, Chiquita + Ypsilon (CCY Route)
  • Improvised rock windbreaks near the summit of Chiquita.- Chapin, Chiquita + Ypsilon (CCY Route)
  • Ypsilon Lake from the summit of Chiquita.- Chapin, Chiquita + Ypsilon (CCY Route)
  • Longs Peak in the distance and the southeastern ridge of Chapin.- Chapin, Chiquita + Ypsilon (CCY Route)
  • The summit of Chiquita, looking east toward Lake Estes and Estes Park.- Chapin, Chiquita + Ypsilon (CCY Route)
  • Mount Chiquita.- Chapin, Chiquita + Ypsilon (CCY Route)
  • The flank of Ypsilon Mountain.- Chapin, Chiquita + Ypsilon (CCY Route)
  • Unidentified species (help us identify it by providing feedback).- Chapin, Chiquita + Ypsilon (CCY Route)
  • The sparse terrain of the alpine tundra.- Chapin, Chiquita + Ypsilon (CCY Route)
  • Rock formations along the summit trail of Ypsilon.- Chapin, Chiquita + Ypsilon (CCY Route)
  • Overlooking one of the Fay Lakes from Ypsilon.- Chapin, Chiquita + Ypsilon (CCY Route)
  • The summit of Ypsilon Mountain.- Chapin, Chiquita + Ypsilon (CCY Route)
  • The spectacle lakes below Ypsilon along with one of the Fay Lakes.- Chapin, Chiquita + Ypsilon (CCY Route)
  • The Long Draw Reservoir and the Medicine Bow Range.- Chapin, Chiquita + Ypsilon (CCY Route)
  • The summit of Chiquita and Chapin beyond.- Chapin, Chiquita + Ypsilon (CCY Route)
  • The summit of Chiquita with Longs Peak supervising.- Chapin, Chiquita + Ypsilon (CCY Route)
  • Cairns mark the trail over backcountry travel.- Chapin, Chiquita + Ypsilon (CCY Route)
  • The Lava Cliffs with the Never Summer Range in the distance.- Chapin, Chiquita + Ypsilon (CCY Route)
  • Unidentified species (help us identify it by providing feedback).- Chapin, Chiquita + Ypsilon (CCY Route)
  • The junction of the Chapin Pass and Chapin summit trails.- Chapin, Chiquita + Ypsilon (CCY Route)
  • Unidentified species (help us identify it by providing feedback).- Chapin, Chiquita + Ypsilon (CCY Route)
  • Alpine meadows marking the trail near the Chapin Pass Trailhead.- Chapin, Chiquita + Ypsilon (CCY Route)
  • Unidentified species (help us identify it by providing feedback).- Chapin, Chiquita + Ypsilon (CCY Route)
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Panoramic views. Tundra.
Cons: 
Unpredictable weather. Limited parking.
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Region:
Northern Front Range, CO
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
No
Net Elevation Gain: 
4,152.00 ft (1,265.53 m)
Parking Pass: 
National Park Pass
Preferable Season(s):
Summer
Total Distance: 
8.70 mi (14.00 km)
Trail type: 
Loop
Trailhead Elevation: 
12,003.00 ft (3,658.51 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Contributor

Just opposite the Alpine Visitor Center along Old Fall River Road, the summits of Mount Chapin, Mount Chiquita and Ypsilon Mountain surpass 13,000 feet. On a blue-bird day they offer panoramic views of almost every area in Rocky Mountain National Park extending as far as the Never Summer Mountains and the Medicine Bow Mountains to the west and northwest, Estes Park to the east, and the quiet recesses of the park’s north. Each summit overlooks a dramatic drop of thousands of feet to the alpine lakes set in the basins below, and some hikers may find further challenge by following the couloirs to Ypsilon Lake or Fern Lake, the latter being by reputation one of the most beautiful in the park. Challenging in mileage and elevation gain, the Chapin, Chiquita and Ypsilon route, or the CCY, is a great hike to get your heart pumping and gain a vantage of Rocky Mountain National Park’s many areas while traversing the unique environment of the alpine tundra. Keep in mind, also, that each summit is an option; views are best from Chiquita and Ypsilon.

The trail begins at Chapin Pass Trailhead, situated 7 miles up Old Fall River Road. Old Fall River Road is unpaved, and travel is slow, especially during peak months when the park is busy. That said, it’s an interesting approach to the Alpine Visitor Center. Enjoy the drive along steep slopes and Chasm Falls, a modest cascade a few minutes’ walk from the road.

Be sure to rise early for this hike. The Chapin Pass Trailhead, tucked in a copse of fir and spruce along Chapin Creek, has very limited parking, enough for perhaps a dozen cars. While the CCY Route sees less visitation than other parts of the park, and you may be able to find a spot later in the morning, an early start is still recommended—not to mention the mid-day weather that tends to plague afternoon hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park.

From the trailhead, ascend steeply for several hundred yards before the trail levels. Near the quarter-mile mark, continue straight at a sign that directs you to diverge from the trail toward all summits. Pursue this option at your own risk; the travel beyond this point is poorly marked backcountry travel. Continue for another half mile to the Chapin Creek and Chapin Summit trails. Follow the right spur for several miles until you reach a pass between Mount Chapin and Mount Chiquita, well-marked by cairns. Just before the pass is the summit trail for Mount Chapin.

The summits of Chiquita and Ypsilon may require backcountry travel, though the trail is well-worn in some portions. One important point of note: the tundra environment is very delicate, so be sure to tread lightly, following stones as often as possible to avoid lasting impact to the tundra flora. From the pass at Mount Chapin, follow the ridge to the summits of both peaks, taking a moment at each to duck behind the improvised wind breaks and soak in the panoramas. At the base of Chiquita and Ypsilon are the Spectacle Lakes, Ypsilon Lake, and farther northeast, Fern Lake. Much of the park’s mountain ranges are visible from these summits.

Descend from Ypsilon by the same route, finding the Chapin Pass Trail and traversing the three peaks back to the Chapin Pass Trailhead.

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

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