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Pets allowed
No
Elevation Gain
?
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
4.00 mi (6.44 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

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.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Summer
Fall

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

National Park Pass

Pros

Little elevation gain. Alpine tundra scenery. Not crowded.

Cons

Very exposed.

Trailhead Elevation

11,322.00 ft (3,450.95 m)

Net Elevation Gain

303.00 ft (92.35 m)

Address

US-34
Estes Park, CO 80517
United States

Features

Backcountry camping
Big Game Watching
Wildlife
Big vistas
Wildflowers
Big Game Watching

Location

Field Guide + Map

Nearby Adventures

Nearby Lodging + Camping

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