Explore Hard Trails - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

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I came from 5 feet above sea level - I live in New Orleans- to do my first 14er. I did 4 hikes in the 3 days before to acclimate. Seemed to work well. We maintained a planned pace with built in rest breaks. If you are looking at your altitude, the false summits aren’t really false. It is hard if you don’t hike at altitude regularly, but doable.

It was simply awesome. The comradery at the summit was really cool with about 20 people all just kind of hanging out. So glad we picked this hike.

on Royal Arch Trail

1 day ago

Awesome views

one of my favorites

Climbed yesterday (9/16) and started at 05:49. Wasn’t sure of what to expect, since one of the reviews really bashed the mountain. There was a 20 deg F change in temperature and a wind that started in the last ~200 yards from the peak. The total hike took us 6 hours 1.5 minutes. One person in our party had to stop every 10 feet due to the altitude. Bring a hat, gloves and a warm jacket for the top, headlamp or flashlight for the start.
Pros: The views were great, Aspens were in full color, saw a fox right before we started and two mountain goats on the way down.
Cons: The scree field was long; coming down wreaked havoc on the knees.

This was by far the hardest hike I have done. Such a mental and physical challenge. I would bet more than half the people hiking up did not summit the day I was there. Do not take this lightly. I started at 7am and finished at roughly 5pm. Spent about 45mins-1hr at the summit taking in the hard earned views. The views and the accomplishment are enough to make it well worth the struggle. I did not taking hiking poles and was just fine. My Apple Watch did clock it in at longer than all trails states - ~11-12 miles for what that’s worth. I did not think the false summits were as bad as everyone said. Aspens were golden and gorgeous and the weather conditions were great. Don’t forget sunscreen, I have a burnt nose to prove it! Don’t under estimate this hike, seriously! Though it is ranked one of the easier 14ers as far as the class of the climb, climbing this much elevation this quickly is TOUGH!! But so so worth it if you can grit through it!

A pretty constant ascent for most of the trail but the views are great and arch was so worth it! Though the elevation wasn't too high at the end, we had a little trouble with the altitude here since we're from the northeast (brought extra oxygen in case). Distance is not very long at all and was relieved that the descent was not super steep. Highly recommend this hike!

Did this hike yesterday 9/16 and it was my fourth 14er. It was by far the hardest one I’ve done. We stared at 415 am and finished by noon. It took way longer than I thought it would, but it was the last part up to the summit that killed me with the steepness. I feel like the views were actually pretty awesome compared to what I’ve read on other reviews, especially since the aspens are changing and it’s beautiful. The rocks are pretty tough to walk and navigate on and I busted my butt probably 5 or 6 times on the way down, so take it slow. It was worth the challenge though! Also, it was very windy and cold at the summit so bring plenty of layers and gloves

scenic driving
2 days ago

Great scenic drive to see the fall foliage. The drive is easy and has many beautiful views. Do go slow through parking areas as a lot of hikers and dogs are crossing the road. Fairly popular right now, lots of leaf peepers and parking is limited.

Great and challenging, quick trail. Went last Friday (9/14) and I got to Echo Lake before 8a so I didn’t have to pay an entrance fee; but I did have to pay when I hit Summit Lake at the pay station ($5 so no biggie). The lot was open and not too many cars parked. I started the trail with my dog at around 7:30a and we finished around 11:00a even after we took the road down to the lot. The road up to the summit of Mt. Evans is closed so no one was on it. When I came back the lot of filled and overflowing with cars so definitely recommend getting there early. I also HIGHLY recommend abiding by the rules and KEEPING your dog on a leash and there are some spots you may have to hoist your dog up some rock or direct them on the rocky paths with the carins. Not to mention there are some steep drops close to the sides of the trail and many squirrels living in the rocks - so don’t risk letting your dog off the leash and having them take off on the side of the mountain!

hiking
3 days ago

Majestic arch!!!

Beautiful hike! Long one with heavily trafficked trail.

hiking
3 days ago

The bluest blue water that blew my mind! Most of the hike was not too bad until the last 45min. Completed the loop rather than out and back.

Such a beautiful and fun hike! So many water features on the way up and beautiful foliage. Love every mile!

Amazing hike with 360 views almost the whole way . Beautiful scenery and definitely a diamond in the rough . We didn’t see many people out on the trail and the parking lot is small. The road to the trail is definitely bumpy.. slow going for sure. But don’t let it keep you from going . I wasn’t expecting such an amazing hike . We didn’t get to spend as much time as we wanted at the top because it starting storming and lightening. But the view at the top - AMAZING... half the trail is dirt and some is nothing but rocks. The hike isn’t too strenuous and we only got to check out Lake Dorothy but I would definitely love to go back and explore the rest of the trail .

First fourteener! Did this a week ago on a Saturday. Got there at 7:30. Plenty of parking. Consistent people brought it the whole hike. Some brought dogs. Be smart, don’t take a dog here that can’t handle it. Same thing for kids. From the saddle up to the top we were stuck by a group with a young child who was crying that she didn’t want to go any further. The mother literally had to pick the kid up and carry her for a few sections. Be a better parent. Don’t subject your kid or others to this.

That said, the views were outstanding, and there are many places in nearby Breckenridge for the requisite beer after. I would definitely go back.

arrived at 6am, car park half full. Heavy going for someone from sea-level....! follow the cairns to stay on track, lots of helpful hikers along the way to help the tourist from London; needless to say, absolutely stunning scenery, memorable sunrise from Mt Spalding. Tips: take toilet roll for the restrooms, headscarf/earmuffs to prevent earache from the howling wind, poles if you have them, get there early if you want any chance of parking in the Summit Lake car park. Thank you Colorado!

Hiked 9/15/18. Add this to your Fall colors to-do list! Understand, there are zero trees on this hike. But there are a bazillion willow bushes that light up, and unlike aspens, they actually get some orange too. And there are plenty of aspens along the drive in. The wide open gulch gives you expansive views above and below. The trail is well maintained and easy to follow. And the lake is very peaceful.

Did his yesterday. And phew! We got about 9.5 miles up and back. Prefect fall leaf peeping weather but lots of sun exposure so put sunscreen on a few times. We did it in about 5:45 but it was exhausting ! Pèrfect fall weather , emptied our camelbacks and wish we’d had a little more water so bring a bunch . Saw several people not equipped and with kids as small as 3 at treelike late in the day and they looked miserable. I would advise NOT bring smaller children too far up as they all were crying and miserable. Some having to try and carry kids (or asking strangers to carry their kids down?!) down on rough terrain. Make sure you have an older, tough kid for this if you go past tree line!

Great hike and worth the amazing view at the top! I started at 5am and it took me 6 hours to summit and 3 hours to come down - slower than the average person and I stopped a lot, especially on the way up. I had no storm threat today so wasn’t stressed to go fast. Coming down also took some time because it was very slick due to loose gravel on steep downhills, and the additional feel of legs turning to jello. Don’t let the “class 1, easy to follow, only 10 miles” fool you. Shorter trails = steeper. If you prefer less steep but longer routes are good for you, check the other “class 1” route to the top. I haven’t done that route but heard several good comments about the other route. this trail is well marked and no concern starting before dawn, assuming you have a flashlight. My two devices clocked in at 11 miles and 12 miles respectively. When actually on this route, I wouldn’t judge your time left based on miles left, but rather remaining elevation climb. As everyone already said, false summits are no joke and mess with your head.

Your heart rate will skyrocket as soon as you start. It's a sufferfest, but I love it every time. Be sure to plan out when you go. It can get really crowded. Be sure to have enough water too. The views from the top are totally worth the effort. Type 2 fun at its best.

Challenging but so beautiful! The scenery was incredible - glad I made it to the Colbert blue lake!!

Perfect day for our 1st 14er. Not too, cold not windy, sunshine and not a cloud in the sky! Parked at 6am and summited in 3 hours! We saw Pikas and chipmunks but not mountain goat.

hiking
4 days ago

My wife and I could not finish it, we ended up turning around at the 3 mile mark, the trail was getting too rough. The trail is on the side of a hill and parallels the South Platte River. We are not novices, we hike every weekend, but we did not feel comfortable continuing on, there are some boulders you have to navigate around and some very steep (but short) parts of the trail

However I would recommend the 6 miles out and back we did, the scenery is gorgeous.

Fantastic hike with great views. Decently strenuous with nearly the entire trail at an incline. Some rockier parts, definitely bring proper hiking boots. Fantastic views, especially after the treeline. Camping is possible. To get to the lake, take the Caribou Pass trail and it will be on your left. Get to the parking area early!!! It will be full by 8AM or so.

A must if you are in the area! The lake was unbelievably blue and beautiful! Felt like a straight up and straight down hike with only a very small portion that was flat. Seeing ice lake at the end makes every step you have taken worth it though!

Great views the entire time and will do this hike again when I'm back in Silverton.

5 days ago

It is worth it! It is not easy. It becomes Very steep and small tight switch backs. Don’t give up at Sentinal Pass. After this it’s kinda brutal because the pass is a treat too. It’s just a bit further and worth the entire stair master. A very rewarding hike. Great workout.

hiking
5 days ago

Great hike. Excellent views. Moderate in difficulty. Wouldn’t consider it to be very hard. I would definitely do his hike again.

Great hike. Not for beginners. My husband and I (late 50s) took about an hour to hike to the top and about 40 minutes to descend. Beautiful view from the arch.

Loved this hike!! The views at the top are incredible! We were slightly intimidated since so many people were starting so early....we started at 7:30 and made it to the summit in about 2.5 hours but we hike faster than some. It’s a pretty slow-going hike for the last 1.5 miles so just expect to go slow cause you have to watch your footing and it gets pretty busy. Bring plenty of water and wear good hiking shoes. We got back to the bottom just after noon and we’re glad we did because we heard thunder as we got to the parking lot. We saw two mountain goats on the trail which was probably the best part of the hike!

Amazing hike, well worth the trek up. It is hard as people have mentioned, but the lake is amazing.
I took another person's suggestion and parked at the bottom after the one lane bridge because I dont have 4wd. One note about that you have to turn right at the very first road after the bridge and the trail head is .7 miles up that road. I ended up walking up the main road and added another 2 miles to my trip.
A couple people have compared this lake to ice lake. They are both great hikes and unique. Personally I thought that ice lake had better panoramic mountain views going up but Columbine lake was way cooler. I would say that they are equally hard because ice lake is steep the whole way up. Columbine lake is steeper for the first two miles and then you have another mile or so of flat, and of course have to go uphill another quarter of a mile before you get all the way there.
Overall great hike!

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