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Ute Trail Hike to Timberline Pass

Rocky Mountain National Park

Northern Front Range, Colorado

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Ute Trail Hike to Timberline Pass
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  • The only trailhead marker is this informational sign.- Ute Trail Hike to Timberline Pass
  • There is parking for about 10 cars at the trailhead, and more parking is found up and down the highway.- Ute Trail Hike to Timberline Pass
  • The trail starts above the tree line.- Ute Trail Hike to Timberline Pass
  • This trail could be done with a car shuttle to Beaver Meadows.- Ute Trail Hike to Timberline Pass
  • Views of the Continental Divide to the west.- Ute Trail Hike to Timberline Pass
  • Marvelous views of the Rocky Mountain National Park high country.- Ute Trail Hike to Timberline Pass
  • Marmot and pika are common on the alpine tundra.- Ute Trail Hike to Timberline Pass
  • Watch for storms coming up in the afternoon and get off the ridge if they threaten.- Ute Trail Hike to Timberline Pass
  • A lone elk spotted along Tombstone Ridge.- Ute Trail Hike to Timberline Pass
  • This rock outcropping marks Timberline Pass.- Ute Trail Hike to Timberline Pass
  • Just a short walk past the rocks, the view down to Beaver Meadows with Flattop Mountain in the distance.- Ute Trail Hike to Timberline Pass
  • Hiking back along the ridge, the views are still great.- Ute Trail Hike to Timberline Pass
  • Non-stop scenery on this hike!- Ute Trail Hike to Timberline Pass
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Little elevation gain. Alpine tundra scenery. Not crowded.
Cons: 
Very exposed.
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Region:
Northern Front Range, CO
Congestion: 
Low
Pets allowed: 
No
Net Elevation Gain: 
303.00 ft (92.35 m)
Parking Pass: 
National Park Pass
Preferable Season(s):
Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
4.00 mi (6.44 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
11,322.00 ft (3,450.95 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Pro Contributor

There are many opportunities to hike through the alpine tundra above the tree line in Rocky Mountain National Park. Some of these trails require significant climbing at over 11,000 feet, which is difficult if you are not acclimatized to the high altitude of the park. Other alpine trails are short and crowded, like the Alpine Ridge Trail, and don’t offer much in the way of solitude. The historic Ute Trail is not heavily used and offers magnificent views above tree line, a moderate length, and only modest elevation gain. The trail goes all the way to the Beaver Meadows Trailhead near the eastern edge of the park, and a car shuttle would make that a wonderful (mostly downhill) hike. This adventure is a shorter hike with a turnaround at Timberline Pass.

The Ute Crossing trailhead is off of Trail Ridge Road and is marked only by an informational sign about the history of the trail. Long used by the Native American people who seasonally passed through this area, it was probably a game trail before that as it is an easy traverse of some rugged country. The entire route follows the west side of Tombstone Ridge and offers views of the Continental Divide to the west. Near the 2-mile point the trail passes to the right of a lone rock outcropping, and just beyond that point the views to the Big Thompson River Valley begin to appear and the trail drops steeply. This pass is a great turnaround spot, but the temptation to keep going at least a little further is strong! On the way back, a short scramble up to the top of the nearby ridge offers wonderful views to the east.

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Field Guide + Trail Map

Field Guide + Trail Map

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(20 within a 30 mile radius)

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(64 within a 30 mile radius)

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