Picture of Hiking Colorado
Picture of Hiking Colorado
Picture of Hiking Colorado
Picture of Hiking Colorado
Picture of Hiking Colorado
Picture of Hiking Colorado
Picture of Hiking Colorado
Picture of Hiking Colorado
Picture of Hiking Colorado
Picture of Hiking Colorado

Hiking Colorado

Destination: Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado is arguably one of the most spectacular parks in the National Park system. Known for lush meadows, high mountain lakes, craggy peaks, diverse ecosystems, and abundant wildlife, it offers an outstanding variety of hiking trails. We'll pick some of the best, each showcasing a different part of the park, as we hike different trails every day. Starting with moderate hikes on the western side as we adjust to the altitude, midweek we move over to the eastern side for strenuous and spectacular hiking. During our week we will immerse ourselves in the history, geology, flora, and fauna of the Park. Maximum group size: 12.;


  • Hiking both the eastern and western sides of Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Exploring lush meadows, high mountain lakes, craggy peaks, and diverse ecosystems
  • Immersing ourselves in the history, geology, flora, and fauna of the Park
  • Challenging ourselves with some long days and ambitious trails

Departures and Prices

August 15 to August 22, 2020
$2495.00 - Available
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  • 1 - 2 experienced AGC guides based on group size
  • Seven nights double occupancy lodging in rooms with ensuite bathrooms
  • All meals from Sunday breakfast through breakfast the next Sunday with the exception of one dinner
  • Transportation during the trip including round trip transfer from the Denver airport
Not included: transportation to and from Denver, alcoholic beverages, AGC guide gratuities, and travel insurance


This trip is for women with some previous hiking experience who are looking for challenging hiking in the mountains, with significant elevation gains. The trip is rated as 5. This rating requires a very high degree of fitness and most women who exercise regularly will need to add some specific conditioning such as strength training, endurance training, longer aerobic workouts, and pre-trip hiking. The length of the hikes and the need to be able to complete them before potential afternoon thunderstorms means that you must be able to maintain a steady and moderate pace. Rating: 1 2 3 4 [5].

This is a very challenging hiking trip in two very different parts of Rocky Mountain National Park. In addition to the elevation gain on some of our hikes, we'll frequently be hiking at altitudes of 10,000 feet or higher. Trails vary from well maintained to rocky with patches of scree.

We will stay the first night at Courtyard Marriott in Denver near the airport.

The next two nights are at the Shadowcliff Mountain Lodge. Shadowcliff is a non-profit organization focused on sustainability. The property is made up of rustic lodges and cabins built through the efforts of approximately 650 volunteers over the course of 4 decades. We will be staying in Rempel Lodge, with double bedrooms and shared hallway bathrooms, and eating our meals at the lodge's Compassionate Kitchen. The staff at the Compassionate Kitchen specialize in sourcing seasonal, local, and organic food, and is also a non-profit organization where we all take turns helping with kitchen clean-up.

In Estes Park we'll stay in a large Reunion cabin at the YMCA of the Rockies. These 8 bedroom cabins have ample common space, and rooms with two queen beds and an attached bathroom. Most of the meals will be prepared in the cabins by the guides. The YMCA of the Rockies is a large property offering many different activities if you choose to take a day off.

Below is the proposed itinerary for the trip. As is true on any adventure travel trip, plans for any specific day may be modified due to weather considerations, unforeseen circumstances, new opportunities, and group interests.

Arrive anytime today at the Denver airport. We'll be staying at a nearby hotel with an airport shuttle so you can arrive whenever it's convenient. Our first formal get together will be tomorrow although everyone who's arrived can get together for dinner.
We'll leave Denver at 8AM for a three-hour drive to Shadowcliff Mountain Lodge, located right on the western edge of Rocky Mountain National Park. For many people, the biggest challenge to hiking in the Rockies is the altitude. Shadowcliff is at 8,370' so we'll be following the maxim of "sleep low, hike high" to aid our adjustment. We'll start adjusting with a hike on North Inlet Trail, part of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, to Cascade Falls. Starting on a relatively flat old dirt road that skirts a montane meadow where wildlife sightings are frequent, the trail then starts climbing steadily to the Falls, a spectacular, multi-tiered cascade that drops roughly 50 feet through a narrow granite chute. We'll settle into our rooms in Shadowcliff where we'll eat dinner. Hiking: 6.8 - 7 miles, 4 - 5 hours, elevation gain/loss: 430'/430'
After a hearty breakfast today, we'll hike out and back to Lone Pine Lake on the East Inlet Trail. Along the way we'll stop at spectacular Adams Falls, where a rocky outcrop looks down on the rushing falls that are surrounded by small rocky cliffs. We then continue through a beautiful aspen and lodgepole pine forest, classic Rocky Mountain flora and past beautiful outcroppings of grey-black rock.
While at Shadowcliff, we'll eat our meals in the Compassionate Kitchen, the name of Shadowcliff's dining facility. The staff at the Compassionate Kitchen specialize in sourcing seasonal, local, and organic food and know how to refuel hungry hikers. Hiking: 10.8 miles, 6 - 8 hours, elevation gain/loss: 1500'/1500'
Today we will head to the alpine and then the eastern part of the Park. An hour's drive brings us to the Milner Pass Trailhead. We'll hike up the Ute Trail onto the tundra and then continue up to the Alpine Visitor Center, all the time keeping our eyes open for yellow-bellied marmots and pika. Not only are there spectacular 360 degree views across the Continental Divide from the Center, it also has a wealth of information about the fragile alpine ecosystem. We then continue our drive across the spectacular Trail Ridge Road, to the eastern part of Rocky Mountain National Park. Our lodging is quite different! We'll spend tonight and the next three nights in a huge 8 bedroom reunion cabin at The YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park. We'll enjoy a spectacular setting with access to both great hiking and home-cooked meals by the guides. Hiking: 4.5 miles, 3 - 3.5 hours, elevation gain: 950'
Now that we're fully acclimated, we're ready for the higher and more challenging hikes of the eastern side. We'll start with an ascent of Hallett Peak. The Arapaho Indians called Hallett Peak "banah ah netaieux", which means Thunder Peak, a reference to the storms that frequent the mountain. We'll definitely be keeping an eye out for storms and be ready to turn around if necessary.

At 12,718 feet, and thus not a "fourteener", Hallett Peak is considered one of the most beautiful alpine hikes in the Park. Starting at Bear Lake it traverses the side of a valley that was carved out long ago by a glacier. Today the only remnant is the Tyndall Glacier, which we pass on the way to the summit. Needless to say, the views are stunning both on the way up and at the top. Famous Longs Peak is visible, as well as Otis and Taylor Peaks. You will even be able to see Grand Lake off in the distance. It's an out and back hike. Hiking: 10.4 miles, 7 - 9 hours, elevation gain/loss: 3240'/3240'
Today's hike is to one of the most beautiful lakes in the park, Chasm Lake. And though we're not climbing a peak today, there is still plenty of climbing to get to it. We'll get another early start today and go for another beautiful hike, this time to Chasm Lake. Chasm Lake sits in a deep cirque at the base of Longs Peak and Mount Lady Washington. The famous east-facing wall of Longs Peak, known as the "Diamond", rises more than 2,400 feet above this stunning alpine lake, and Longs Peak climbers start from the same trailhead. Our trail starts in a thick forest of lodgepole pine, spruce and fir, crosses the familiar subalpine landscape of krummholz and continues through a stretch of boulders with some easy scrambling and rewarding, spectacular mountain views. Hiking: 8 miles, 6 - 7 hours, elevation gain/loss: 2524'/2524'
While many of our hikes have been out and backs, today we hike the Twin Owls Loop. This loop circles and scales Lumpy Ridge, a massive granite rock complex sculpted by wind and erosion over the last 2 billion years and popular with technical rock climbers. We hike through ponderosa pine forest, along riparian corridors, past montane and lower-subalpine forests. This trail is one of the most ecologically diverse trails in the Park, with abundant wildlife, terrific views, and mature aspen groves. About 1.5 miles from the end, we reach Gem Lake. Most people hike to Gem Lake from the same trailhead going the opposite way and it is one of the more popular destinations in the park. The lake has the distinction of having neither an inlet or outlet stream. Instead, the lake is formed by trapped snowmelt and rainwater that collects in the basin at the base of the granite cliff walls that surround the lake. Hiking: 11 miles, 7 - 9 hours, elevation gain/loss: 2615'/2615'
Today after breakfast we'll pack up, sadly bidding farewell to each other and this gorgeous Park. We'll be back at the Denver airport by 11:00 am and you can plan flights out anytime after 1:00 pm.

*These are the unfiltered reviews of women who have been on this trip in answer to the question "Did this trip meet your expectations?". We take reviews very seriously and often tweak itineraries based on feedback. Please feel free to contact us about any questions you have.

Thank goodness for Chasm Lake hike....that was the highlight. Weather and scenery gorgeous, yet an ambitious hike. Suggest rearranging the sequence of hikes to allow for a slower day in the middle of the week. Unfortunate weather kept most of us off Flattop and Hallett.

Hiking Colorado 8/18/2018-8/25/2018

I wanted a physically challenging hiking trip with other participants fit enough to meet the challenge.

Hiking Colorado 8/18/2018-8/25/2018

This trip exceeded my expectations in every way. The accommodations were lovely, the hikes spectacular, and the leaders capable and terrific people. Seeing a bear on the trail was icing on the cake! I especially appreciated all the trip information prior to the trip from Brenda, which allowed me to train appropriately and be ready for the hikes. All the other women were capable and interesting people as well. Just an all round fantastic experience!

Hiking Colorado 8/18/2018-8/25/2018

Absolutely loved the transition from treeline to alpine and back again. Couldn't wait to go around each new corner to see something new!

Hiking Colorado 8/18/2018-8/25/2018

The guides, the participants, one of the lodges and the food were all outstanding. I have to say that the scenery was not as spectacular as I was hoping for, but I can't blame AGC for that...

Hiking Colorado 8/18/2018-8/25/2018

I wanted a challenging trip -- and this was definitely challenging! I loved the Colorado scenery and the variety of the hikes. Also -- I liked the places we stayed.

Hiking Colorado 8/18/2018-8/25/2018

I thought the trip was fun, but nothing spectacular. The trails were good and I had hard hikes, but I felt that these hikes were something I could easily have done on my own, with minimal planning. The women on the trip were great people and it was nice to meet them all.

Hiking Colorado 8/18/2018-8/25/2018

Excellent hikes, fabulous leaders, splendid food (Thanks for vegan choices). Lovely group of women.

Hiking Colorado 8/18/2018-8/25/2018

Community, guide skills , accommodations, level of difficulty

Hiking Colorado 8/18/2018-8/25/2018

  1. Where do we eat?

    The meals at Shadowcliff will be taken at the Compassionate Kitchen where vegan meals are accomodated and most meals are either vegetarian, or an option of vegetarian and non-vegetarian entrees are offered. In Estes Park the guides will be cooking breakfasts and most dinners in the lodging. At both locations the the lodge or your guides will put out lunch 'fixings' and you’ll take a packed lunch. You’ll go out for one dinner where you can order off the menu.
  2. What dietary preferences or restrictions can you accommodate on this trip?

    If we know well in advance, we can accommodate vegetarian, lactose-free, and gluten-sensitive diets. We cannot guarantee a completely gluten-free diet and we cannot provide a kitchen guaranteed to be free of cross-contamination. If you are vegan, we ask that you bring some additional protein bars; and if you are gluten-sensitive, please bring some gluten-free snacks. If you have severe allergies, Celiac disease and/or other significant dietary restrictions, please call the office before you register.
  3. I live near sea level, how can I prepare for the elevations on this trip?
    Altitude affects everybody differently, and can affect the same person differently over time, so there's no real way of knowing ahead of time how the elevations on this trip may affect you.The trip has been designed to help participants acclimate. The first night is spent near the Denver airport, at 5430', so that will give you one night at a higher elevation. The next day you'll be driving to 8370', and the first hike only has an elevation gain/loss of 430'/430'. This will all help you acclimate gradually, with hikes that have more significant elevation gains and losses coming later in the week.
    . Here is a link to a blog post that specifically addresses elevation: