Headed to Denver,CO (mid-february) for a couple of weeks and looking to shed some fat through a weekend trip to Rocky Mountain National Park. I am looking for a hike with an elevation gain of 4000-5000ft ranging from 8-12 miles. The important part is that it can be hiked with some microspikes/crampons given some snow and does not require any technical climbing. I understand that a couple of feet would be unavoidable at higher altitudes.~7000-13000ft mountains that I can start hiking from a lower elevation to maximize every foot of elevation gain will be ideal.Well maintained trails preferred. However, I always carry a GPS, so its not a deal breaker. Ideas!?

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    Some of the lower trails may be open, but if you are talking about 10,000-13,000 feet it's going to be more like 5-10 feet of snow, and you aren't going to be going anywhere without snowshoes or skis. Not to mention avalanche hazard. See nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/trail_conditions.htm Commented Feb 4, 2016 at 17:52
  • @CharlesE.Grant Thanks for the input. I have edited my original question to include any mountain ranges as long as the elevation gain is about 3000-5000ft Commented Feb 4, 2016 at 17:55
  • Timberline in RMNP is about 11,000 feet. Above that elevation, winds are likely to be brutal in February and avalanche hazards higher. The snow will be deep even lower than that, and if the trail is covered with 5-10 feet of snow it will not matter if it is well maintained or not. My suggestion is to consider 2 back-to-back hikes that add up to 3,000 feet of elevation gain, and to not rule out snowshoes or x-country skis.
    – ab2
    Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 19:29

1 Answer 1


I've never been to RMNP in the winter, so this is a wild guess.

I'm assuming the higher elevation roads will all be closed. Look into how far you can drive up Fall River Road. If I remember right, it's about 10 miles long. The eastern 3/4 or so goes up a valley. While there is certainly elevation gain, it doesn't sound like what you are looking for.

However, the western end ascends steeply sortof up the Fall River Valley headwall. It meets Trail Ridge Road at the top by the Alpine Visitor Center.

If you can drive to the bottom of the steep section, this may be what you are looking for. It's not going to be maintained, but "maintained" has little meaning under 5 feet of snow anyway. A road under all that snow will be easier to follow than a narrower trail. While this road is steep for a road, the grading required for cars makes for easier hiking, although you'll still be gaining significant elevation.

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