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Awesome trail! Counter Clockwise. June 2018

We planned to sleep at Parika Lake on the first night, but ended up short at the smaller lake 0.5 mile before. After seeing both spots, not sure which one was better. We slept in the wooded area covered by trees. Parika Lake is pretty open and exposed, but the views were amazing. Fishing was a thought, but glad we chose not to.
Day two started with a couple miles of steep climbing and ridge lines. Only encountered a few patches of snow along the ridge. Parika Peak was just another quater mile, right turn upward climb and totally worth it. the views were stunning. Winds peaked to 50mph around Farview Mt. and it got pretty cold.
We planned to camp at Bowen Lake the second night, but decided to skip it. We were just too worked from the long day. the forest past the junction had a lot of down trees and thick forest. Finally found a decent flat area to camp for the night.
Last day was a easy down hill to the car. Saw a cow moose in the stream near the lot right as we were leaving.

Few things to note for this trail:
Parking lot is small
Plenty of streams to filter water
A lot of crossings, some difficult to cross
Trail starts in RMNP but a permit is NOT necessary (we wasted 20 minutes trying to get one)
Clockwise doesn't seem as enjoyable
We average 2 trips per year(experience compared)

hiking
2 days ago

We went there in August of 2017. It was hot but you can get to enjoy the snow! Just amazing. My GPS was not working so I was not able to record my hike but it was totally worth hike. Enjoy!! x

snowshoeing
24 days ago

Gorgeous snow shoe. However, snow is about an inch or less on the first 3 miles of the trail. Might be good to bring crampons and snow shoes. Most of the rivers are frozen over.

The hike was beautiful, especially with all the snow! I would recommend parking on Waterboard Rd as the short road to the trailhead itself (0.1 mi) has some pretty deep sections of snow that are very easy to get stuck in. We made it about 2 miles up the trail before there were no more footprints to follow, and we weren't confident in finding the trail on our own under the snow, so we had to turn back. There were some gorgeous views up until that point, but we definitely wish we'd been able to make it all the way to the top. The beginning of the trail has hard packed snow so is pretty easy to hike, but it gets less packed the farther you go, so snow shoes would probably be very helpful. Lots of animals tracks out, which is always fun to see!

Beautiful XC Ski!

My girlfriend and I hiked this in early August. It was our first fourteener together.

Today, 10252018, there was extensive snow on the trail just past the switch backs after the junction with the Rosalie trail.

backpacking
2 months ago

Hiked Humboldt Peak in July. It was my first true 14er. It was definitely difficult in some areas near the top of the peak. Overall it was achievable and very beautiful. You get a good view of the Crestones though the hike as well.

hiking
2 months ago

Really gorgeous hike. The last mile up there is already a decent amount of snow and at the top, close to 6 inches. Definitely wear waterproof hiking boots.

A challenging hike where you are rewarded with beautiful vistas and a lake view at the top. Hiked on a Saturday morning in early October and only saw 2 other people on the entire hike. Amazing fog and snow flurries at the peak. After emerging from the cover of evergreens into open tundra, followed fox, coyote, and mule deer tracks up to the top. A classic Colorado hike and even better on a snowy fall day. Look for Mountain Chickadees, Grey Jays , Red Tailed Hawks, Picas and maybe a few Elk or Mule Deer.

This trail is a must do. We camped at the unnamed lake below parika lake and then near the junction to Bowen lake. Would rate as strenuous, and there is a lot of exposure on the ridge lines past parika lake. We had wind gusts of probably 60 mph or so. We took our rain flies off our packs, because they were acting like parachutes and sometimes the wind was so strong you had to stop before you could move again. Definitely worth it though. Vertical drop offs on the ridge are more gradual than straight down, so not bad IMHO, and I’m not a heights fan! The views at the peak of 12300 feet or so are absolutely breathtaking.

My first 14er. It felt pretty moderate to me, no section of the trail felt hard. Beautiful views from the summit and good colors on the aspens down low. 9-30-18

The views made it all worth it! A steady climb from the beginning to a rocky last 45 minutes of the hike.

A nice start in the woods. Trail was clearly marked. Beautiful vistas!

My favorite alpine hike especially in mid July when the wildflowers are out in abundance. STP is across the street from the trailhead for Mt. Beirstadt with all of the beautiful views but far less crowds. Square Top Lakes are below the summit and is another great hike but is far tamer. Both are a great way to spend the day!

The best time to visit is mid- July when the wildflowers are out in abundance and this year, they were spectacular. The trailhead is on the west side of Guanella Pass just opposite the trailhead for the highly trodden 14er Mt. Beirstadt. Square Top Peak is the 111th highest peak in Colorado. The terrain is somewhat rocky but the grade can be steep near the top. Views from the top are like any alpine peak, spectacular. But there is a bonus. Square Top Lakes are below and are also spectacular. For those wishing an easier hike, end the trip at Square Top Lakes. Although difficult, this is my favorite alpine hike. All the beauty of any 14er without the crowds.

hiking
2 months ago

Amazing trail with spectacular views. There is a spectacular glacial lake not on the map, but you have to climb to above 12,000 feet before you get a look at it. It was frozen when we got there. This trail is extremely difficult and mostly over large boulders. You must have excellent footwear, excellent balance, and ample cold weather clothing. If you're unsure if you can tackle this trail, take the easy hike to Lake Isabelle and make your decision once you're there. It took us 8 hours round trip from the long lake parking lot. Don't let the reasonable distance fool you! Watch for cairns, as most of this trail is across boulder fields.

Also be very careful about altitude sickness and understand the signs. I live at 1000 ft and was able to climb to the end of the trail, but had symptoms of altitude sickness into the next day.

There is a bull moose, cow, and a calf living just above the lake. We had the good fortune to see all three from a safe distance. Watch out, as both the bull and cow are known to chase and attack!

There are also ample Pika (endangered) and marmots living in the boulder fields. Keep your eyes open!

Haley P nailed that synopsis below, incredible! Hiked under the full moon and started right outside of Winfield (the lower trailhead; Winfield is super cool, old little mining town you can explore) - tons of dispersed camping along the road to the upper trailhead. Great little dispersed spot right outside of Winfield as well. Definitely a great beginner 14'er! The trail is wonderfully defined the entire route and tough to get off track. #27 & definitely one of my favorites! Views at the summit were all-time. Enjoy!

Incredible! This was my first 14er and I’m hooked - a great first one to try if you haven’t hiked one yet. Some tips for folks to help you gauge time, distance, etc.

Everyone says to “start early” but that doesn’t really explain much. I found that you should be off the peak and below the tree line before noon on account of afternoon lightning storms. We started at 5:30 am (1.5 hours before sunrise) to give us ample time. The trail was super easy to follow, even in the dark. We made it almost half way up (to the plateau) in 1.5 hours. The last half took us another 1.5 hours, so 3 hours total to make it to the peak. We are regular hikers, but were not rushing it. We’re not a fan of blitzing a hike. We spent an hour at the top before descending in about 3 hours. Down by around 1 pm. Tons of people were ascending at that time - not sure if they planned to do the whole thing or not.

We drove in the Friday night before and car camped at the 4x4 trailhead. There were still plenty of places to park and camp, although we got there at 10 pm. You do need a 4x4 car or truck with at least 8-10 inches of clearance. A Toyota suv was hitting bottom in front of us on the way up.

Bring water, snacks, and layers! We saw some people hiking in a long-sleeved shirts and shorts and carrying one water bottle. I can’t advise against that enough. Maybe I’m just paranoid being a WFR, but honestly, I’m the one who will have to help when you get hurt, so please bring some supplies! Better to be prepared at 14,000 ft than to skimp on a little bit of extra weight.

Do it, you’ll love it!! 

Went yesterday & today. I camped at Lost Lake last night. About 2 miles in from where you park. Woke up this morning to about 22 degrees. And it had rained just a bit last night. Ran into a bunch of people on the trail as I was heading to set up camp who saw moose.

So I went clockwise. This was the right choice for me as the climb is more gradual (and I just got off a plane from Florida yesterday :)

Was gonna camp one more night (tonight) at Jasper Lake but....it was gonna be 20. And was only 5.3 miles to the car at that point. So I humped all 15 today w my 25lb pack.

And - I’m sitting at the noodle restaurant now haha. Yes, delicious.

If you are planning to complete the loop in a day , I would recommend start early. If you are not acclimated to the high altitude then it is a lot harder then it seems. Take plenty of breaks and drink a lot of water.

Me and my pup loved this like - 2 lakes you can stop at, the perfect views 360, steady incline after you pass the last lake but it is so worth it! It’s all exposed so make sure you start early. I was there at 7:15am on a Sunday and plenty of parking. Like others said, it has its own parking lot!

Such a nice, smooth trail up, over and along the Divide. Always love this one!

Beautiful trail in the fall, even if you just go to Independence Lake.

Beautiful wander through the fall woods.

We did this trail in early August with great weather. The trailhead is up the road about a half mile on the left and is easy to miss. There's a great variety of views a long the way, streams, valleys and a beautiful forest below the tree line. A lot of bouldering above the tree line, there's plenty of cairns but it's easy to lose the trail. Amazing but very difficult hike. It took us nearly as long to get down as it did to get up because of how steep it is. Poles highly recommended!

hiking
2 months ago

Hiked this route on Friday, September 21 on a clear sunny day when Denver was in the 80's. I arrived at the parking lot at 6.45 and was the first car there. Saw no one along the route until close to the first summit (there are two "summits") so my thought of being the first to the top that day were dashed. The hike to the first lake is easy and there is a second lake about half a mile further on. On reaching that lake I lost the path and so bushwacked up a steep slope to the left of the lake. I eventually reached the main track again. What I should have done was to turn left along the trail marked South Park 160 at the first lake. A short way along this track is the junction point for the start of the real ascent to Square Top Mountain. I only realized this during my return journey. From the lakes the hike is a real grunt up a steep slope. This will test your legs and fitness. I am 65 so my days of long hard hikes are coming to an end but I am proud to still be fit enough for this one. I had to stop frequently on the way up for short (30-60 second) breathers. We are talking about 13000 feet here so that should be no surprise even though I have lived at altitude for the last 30 years. The trail is not always well marked or easy to see and it is easy to end up tramping across the tundra - something I was loathe to do but there wasn't much choice about this. On reaching the first rocky summit the views are so amazing that one is tempted to stop right there. My All Trails app indicated that the end of the trail was further on at the second peak. That peak looks quite a ways off but it only took 15 minutes to get there and the extra uphill was a lot easier than it looked. I do tend to stop for photographs so my journey times are longer than if I solely hiked the route. I took 3 1/2 hours to get to the top and 2h 20 minutes to come down. The down part is about right but without stopping for photos I reckon 3 hours to the top would be more accurate. The descent will test your quads. I saw no large wildlife (bummer) but the solitude I had on this hike was totally worth it. Bierstadt was so much more crowded even at 6.45am. Ah the naiivety of youth! All in all, this is a quiet and beautiful hike although I rate it as HARD, at least by my standards.

Beautiful hike through the forest, 9/21 the trees are just about done changing, unfortunately we missed the golden aspen covered mountain most of the leaves were gone, but there was still a few left to enjoy! (Pictures posted) You hike 2 miles in to view the scenic mountain side, still worth the trek though because who doesn’t love walking through the forest. Parking lot and street parking were full, trail traffic was moderate.

It was beautiful, once we got to the top me and my friend decided to climb to the highest point we could. Which was passed the pile of boulders was the height point. Someone left a water proof container and named the peak Mt. Chuck. It had funny notes and quotes.

hiking
2 months ago

Great hike, tough on lungs and legs. No scrambling at all. The pup loved it as it wasn’t all too rocky until the summit

hiking
2 months ago

Awesome trail. Did it over Labor Day and still was quite empty. Could easily be considered hard due to length and elevation gain, but its all worth it for the variety of scenery. Although I saw a few 2wd sedans along the road to the trailhead, 4wd or at least something with clearance is recommended to get there.

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