Alpine Ridge Trail (P.O.I.)

Trip Date: 8/30/2016

Location: Rocky Mountain National Park - Trail Ridge Road

Permit/Pass: Automobile - 1-Day Pass $20, 7-Day Pass $30

Trail maps: NPSmap

Directions: From the town of Estes Park in Colorado take East Elkhorn Avenue east to a left turn onto Moraine Avenue. Follow Moraine Ave. for a little over six and a half miles as it heads east out of Estes Park and gradually climbs toward the park entrance. At the Bear Meadows Visitor Center the road essentially turns into Trail Ridge Road (also US34), and climbs through the mountains for about 17 miles until it reaches the Alpine Visitor Center. The trailhead for the ridge trail is at the northeastern corner of the parking lot.

Synopsis: It would be hard to find more spectacular views for such a short walk. This little jaunt up to an altitude of 12,000 feet plus is one which offers a big payoff, but you'll likely have to share it with lots of others. Take advantage of the small signs along the path to learn a bit about tundra plants.

Trail sequence: Alpine Ridge Trail

Type: Out and back

Distance: 0.6 miles

Elevation: Min. - 11,784', Max. - 12,017'


Rating: Easy-Moderate* (factors: altitude)

Notes: *This is a short, and pretty easy trail - unless you are out of shape or have medical problems. Remember, you're more than two miles above sea level, so the air is thin. As we were dropping back down from the top there was a woman in distress sitting down on the side of the trail with her companions, and when we got to the trailhead medical personal came running up to help. As we were driving away an ambulance came rushing up. Don't go beyond your abilities.

Track: Alpine Ridge Trail - Rocky Mountain NP: AllTrails, GaiaGPS

Turn by Turn:

  -- Find the trailhead at the northeast corner of the parking lot, next to the cafe and gift shop. Head up the steps, take a turn to the right, then follow the path as it climbs up the paved trail, sometimes interspersed with steps, to the top - just a few tenths of a mile up. The trail is straight, popular, and trends northeast (southwest on the return), so it's pretty hard to get lost.

  -- Retrace your steps to return to the parking area.

Photos: Flickr