[cdt-l] Suggestions for introductory hike

Paul Magnanti pmags at yahoo.com
Mon Jul 23 11:20:59 CDT 2007

If you want to experience a national park, there is a loop (a lollipop actually) in Rocky Mountain National Park. It is the "official" CDT for what ever it is worth.

It is about 6700' elev gain and 33 miles. About right for a 4 day trip down at a mellow pace. It is the one in Rocky Mountain
National Park. Very few thru-hikers do this loop because it is well, a
loop. :)  It is very spectacular though, and one I suggest. I've seen
big horn sheep, elk and the western part of the divide is awesome.

You need Trails Illustrated Map #200 (Rocky Mountain National Park)

The loop I suggest  is  going counter clockwise and is starting at Bear Lake. Go up to  FlapTop Mtn.
Head NW on the Tonahutu Creek trail.  Down to the Tonahutu
 trailhead,walk a dirt road, up to North Inlet trail,  back to the summit of
FlatTop mtn and back down to Bear Lake.

If you want less mileage and elev gain, go from the west side of the park near Grand Lake. You can start off at the Shadow Cliff hostel as well the night before. Great place that is inexpensive.  It is right next to where the loop starts. 

The map has all the camp sites as well.

Near my neck of the woods is the Indian Peaks wilderness. You can follow the Jim Wolf route to get an alternate taste of the CDT. :) You will need Trails Illustrated map #102.

Though it is *NOT* on any of the CDT routes normally taken, a favorite loop of mine does take in the Divide over two passes.

 This loop  is about 27 miles and 6700' elev gain (more if you go to Crater Lake as
 an out and back. Then it is 29 miles and just over 7000' gain). Call this another challenging, but doable 3 day
 backpacking trip.  Could be a mellow 4 day trip as well. You go over the divide twice and get some
 breathtaking scenery. The western side of the divide usually has some  stunning wildflowers!

trails illustrated map #102, Indian Peaks.   The loop starts at the
Mitchell Lake Trailhead in Brainard Lake. Go over the shoulder of
Audubon, down to Coney Flats, over Buchanan Pass, down to the Monarch
Lake area, over to Pawnee Pass back to Brainard Lake.

If you start at the western side of the divide,  you can make a "lollipop" and come in from Monarch Lake. IIRC, it will add 2-3 miles total. There is a permit station there now so it is very easy to get a permit for the Indian Peaks. Plus you will be on the CDT for a little bit, too.

It is a stunning loop and one I never get tired of!

Both of these suggestions are more or less in northern(ish) Colorado as well.

If you have other questions, please let me know!

The true harvest of my life is intangible.... a little stardust 
caught, a portion of the rainbow I have clutched

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