Climbing
Non
Alpine climbing NCCS rating
Grade I
Elevation Gain
4,810.00 ft (1,466.09 m)
Distance
17.00 mi (27.36 km)
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Mount Alice is a beast of a mountain that lies deep in the backcountry of Rocky Mountain National Park. Due to the very long day, you'll be on your own for most of this climb. Although you won't find any people, you'll certainly find a good challenge in tough terrain with a fun scramble to make it to the summit.

You're going to start this climb at the Wild Basin section of the park, just off CO 7 near Allens Park, Colorado. Drive until the dirt road ends (a sedan can easily make this road) and start your hike at the only trailhead in the parking lot. (Note: If winter conditions exist in the park, the gate will be closed approximately 2 miles from the summer trail parking, adding more mileage to an already long day. Check with the rangers if you aren't sure if the gate is open or not.)

Follow the trail to Lion Lakes. Continue up the easy and well-marked trail, going past Copeland Falls. About 1.4 miles in, you'll notice a sign for campsites on your left. To cut off some unnecessary miles, take this trail. Follow it up as it passes a half dozen backcountry sites. As you rise up the valley, you'll come out back onto the Thunder Lake Trail; follow it to the right.

Keep following this part of the trail for about 2.5 miles. Again, this climbs through old-growth forest with the sound of the North St. Vrain Creek rumbling in the distance. Keep a close eye out for deer, elk, and a variety of birds that live in this beautiful area.

The next junction you're looking for is the Thunder Lake/Lion Lake split. Take the right to contiune up to Lion Lakes. The trail will become a bit more steep at this point as you get closer and closer to treeline. Eventually you'll rise into a series of small ponds and meadows. Here you'll finally get a look at Mount Alice looming in the distance. At first, you'll see only the technical east face, but as you continue on you'll see more clearly the non-roped version of this climb.

Once you hit Lion Lake 1, you're nearing 7 miles into this hike—not even half way, and definitely not close to the toughest part of the climb! This would be a good point to take a rest, assess how you're feeling, and look closely at the weather. You'll be above treeline for a considerable amount of time from here, and if you get caught in a storm, there's nowhere to hide.

Follow Lion Lake on the established trail moving north. At the end of the lake, the official trail ends, and you will be relying on cairns and routefinding to get above the seond lake. Stay to the south (left) of the cliff bands, but be sure to take in the breathtaking views of the flowing waterfalls and (hopefully) blooming wildflowers. Early July and late August hikes are most promising for wildflower blooms. You'll have to cross a small stream, then continue heading up. You'll climb non-technical rocks and find yourself above and to the south of Lion Lake 2. There are even a few more lakes dotted across the landscape, which you can see from this viewpoint.

From here the cairns are mostly gone, and you'll have to rely on the mountains and the valley to guide the rest of the hike. Continue pushing westward. The east face of Mount Alice should be slightly to your left. Stay above both of the valleys on your left and right, and as you get over each hill there will be a relatively well-traveled trail going up a ridge to the Continental Divide. From the divide, you'll have a great view of the less-traveled west side of the park, as well as great views of the skyline. Again, be sure to check for storms. The next part (and most technical) of this climb contains steep, slabby rock that can be very slick when wet, and a fall will be fatal.

Continue left (south) from the divide. Climb over a narrow section to another small grassy field for about a quarter-mile. Now you're in what's called the Hourglass Ridge. You can see the shape in the notch of rock you'll be crossing to get to the summit notch. There's nothing extremely technical about this section, however, there is a lot of loose rock, and the potential for an exposed fall means you need to watch every step. Once you take a few precarious steps through the Hourglass Ridge you'll be on that steep slab of rock. Take it slow; if you move to the left, you can work your way off of it and onto the chossy blocks that you'll follow up a very steep block to the summit.

You're at about 8 to 10 miles into the hike at this point. Time to turn back! You'll hike out the same way you hiked in. Once you're down from the Divide, simply pay attention to the valley you're in and don't descend on either side. Continue straight down (east), having Lion Lake 2 at your left, until you begin to see the cairns again. You should be a short distance away from Lion Lake 1 and the official trail. Be wary of sore feet on the long hike out!

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Summer
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

Admission Fee

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Solitude. Challenge.

Cons

Long mileage. Exposure.

Pets allowed

Not Allowed

Trailhead Elevation

8,500.00 ft (2,590.80 m)

Highest point

13,310.00 ft (4,056.89 m)

Features

Vault toilet
Geologically significant
Wildlife
Big vistas
Wildflowers
Big Game Watching
Old-growth forest
Bird watching
Waterfalls

Access

Vehicle

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Primary aspect

North facing

Drinking water

Unfrozen water

Location

Field Guide

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