Longs Peak Trail

HARD 236 reviews
#13 of 179 trails in

Longs Peak Trail is a 15.7 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Estes Park, Colorado that features a lake and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Horses are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
15.7 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
5,114 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

birding

hiking

horseback riding

rock climbing

skiing

snowshoeing

forest

lake

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

scramble

snow

no dogs

Longs Peak is Colorado's northernmost fourteener in the northern Front Range of the Rocky Mountains and one of the most accessible to the Denver area. Located in Rocky Mountain National Park, just under 10 miles southwest of Estes Park, Longs Peak is the highest point in Boulder County at 14,259 feet. This is a strenuous hike with difficult terrain that should not be underestimated. This is a very popular alpine trail with the Keyhole route attracting several thousand climbers during the summer season. There are several trailheads, but most routes and variations start from the Ranger Station at Longs Peak Trailhead and start on East Longs Peak Trail. You will begin the hike through a dense forest until you reach a transition zone past the treeline, at which point you Lady Washington and Longs Peak will come into sight. You will eventually reach Chasm Lake Trail junction at which point you will traverse Lady Washington as you head toward the Boulder Field. You will soon reach Granite Pass and the North Longs Peak Trail junction. The maintained forest hiking trail ends at the Boulder Field 6 miles from the trailhead. At this point hikers and climbers can scramble over loose rocks and boulders to get to the backcountry campsites and Keyhole feature. It's close to one mile from the Keyhole to the summit. The keyhole route is a dangerous and technical section of the trail with narrow ledges and falling rock. Before visiting, look at the weather forecast for higher elevations as the weather conditions change very quickly and afternoon thunderstorms arrive without warning. Winter conditions usually take over in the high country of Rocky Mountain National Park in September and often persist through June. You may also want to check with a park ranger before heading out on your trip. This is a popular route and parking is limited. Since it is a long day hike, it is recommended to arrive at the trailhead early. Be mindful of altitude sickness, as it is a quick ascent.

hiking
10 hours ago

Climbed Longs Peak to celebrate my 50th birthday. Had a great group of friends and my son along. It was my first 14er and was an awesome experience.

5 days ago

Awesome! Incredible views. We camped in the Boulder fields. We booked months in advance, heads up! Morning hikers will wake you (we had some bozos playing music at 4AM hiking through camp, LNT is more than picking up garbage). Watch out for slick rocks if it rains. There were multiple water sources available. It is a popular trail. Be careful and follow the trail markers.

6 days ago

My entire body feels like I got hit by a truck. Type 3 fun for sure. Make sure you know what you’re getting into before beginning your trek, though it’s really not as sketchy as others say it is, just be aware.

10 days ago

Amazing climb, I’m 61 years old, have been doing CrossFit for three years and still got my butt kicked by this hike. This was one of the most exhilarating and foolish things I’ve done in my life (but truly rewarding). The weather was perfect. Don’t forget when you get down, you still have a six mile hike back to the car! Acclimate for a week, we went up after just 48 hours in Estes. Call me crazy, but I would do it again!

hiking
10 days ago

Standard Keyhole Route

I did this Wednesday, 8/8/18, from the Longs Peak Trailhead. I arrived in the lot around 2:20am and started at 2:31. There were probably 8 parking spots left.

As others have said, it's a pretty straightforward hike on a well maintained trail to the Boulderfield. Once to the Boulderfield (about 5am) I stopped to use the privy (two there, looked like they were building two more). The Boulderfield is well marked with cairns - even in dawn lighting conditions I was able to see cairns. I joined a handful of others in the lighting shelter atop the Boulderfield to wait on a little more light (and eat, change layers from jacket to vest).

I went through the Keyhole around 6am. It's where the real work starts. But seriously. It's no joke beyond the Keyhole - the hard work and sketchy-ness is just beginning. And it's both hard and sketchy. About the sketch aspect of Longs...listen to yourself - if you're too scared, turn around! But I was able to summit because I mentally focused on the next immediate challenge rather than the 100x challenges beyond (some of which you can see). I think people pysch themselves out by getting overwhelmed by all the impending difficulties.

I summited around 8:15am, spent about 15 minutes at summit, and was back to my car at 12:40pm-ish.

A few extra notes/thoughts:
-Per my GAIA GPS app: 13.93 miles, 10:06 total time, 4,871' ascent
-This is NOT a hike! It's not a good first 14er or one to take lightly. I'm serious - a slight mistake after the Keyhole can seriously injure or kill you (or someone else).
-Water. I drink a lot of water and went through 3.5 liters on ascent. I filtered water in the Boulderfield on the descent.
-Helmet. I'd estimate 90% of people don't wear one. I didn't (because I don't own one) but I'm not gonna lie - I wish I would've had one. Falling rocks/boulders would've just been one less worry in the Trough.
-Do others around you in the Trough a solid. If you cause a rock/boulder to come loose yell "rock" so those below you can be aware.
-I was glad to have a pair of light jogger type gloves for after the Keyhole. It's a little chilly in the shade but the rocks are cold and you'll be using your hands a lot!

13 days ago

Long hike, challenging climb after the keyhole. The trail
was well-maintained, the weather was (almost) perfect!

14 days ago

great views :) good place to hike

hiking
15 days ago

Best and most exhausting trek of my life. Can’t wait to get back!

19 days ago

Just wow!!

hiking
20 days ago

If I were to do this hike again, I’d definitely backpack to the keyhole on night 1 and then summit the next day. Hiking 15 miles with 5100 ft gain was incredibly taxing physically and mentally; my hiking partner and I took 18.5 hours RT (including at least about 2ish hours of break and napping) due to lack of sleep and bouts of altitude sickness. The first 5.5 miles weren’t bad but once we got to the boulder field everything became significantly harder. My least favorite part of the hike was ascending/descending 600 ft up the trough, which was incredibly steep with loose rocks and very large boulders. We got through the narrows fairly quickly but it was definitely a bit sketchy at some parts, so do be careful here. The homestretch is steeper than the trough but much shorter and isn’t nearly as loose. The hike wasn’t enjoyable for my body in the slightest but the views of the mountains past the keyhole and at the summit were absolutely beautiful and spectacular. Very tough hike that I probably will not do again until next season (and will probably try backpacking next time).

hiking
21 days ago

Wow that rock gully is tough, but what a great summit to relax on when you finish. Started at 3am, finished 12:15pm, 20 minutes at the top.

24 days ago

A bucket list climb that did not disappoint!

hiking
29 days ago

We had a great day on Longs today. Started 2am, summited at 7:10am, arrived back to the car at 11:40. I drank all 3 liters of water I packed, and was glad my partner had a water purifier. Note that in addition to the restrooms at the trailhead, there are two more chances to visit the privy on the trail (at Chasm Junction and the Boulder Field). Bring your own toilet paper, just in case.

1 month ago

Amazing.

hiking
1 month ago

One of my favorite 14ers to date. Summited July 1st on a blue sky day. Healthy winds brought down the temperature for the start of July, but no a cloud in sight. Trail was dry all the way up.

backpacking
1 month ago

I hiked to Jim’s Grove on my first day and camped for the night. I then woke up sometime in the wee hours of the morning to get to the summit. The weather was perfect and the trail was actually minimally trafficked. This was my first solo hike and 14er. That being said, it was the most challenging hike I have done. Make sure to bring a water filter and all of your endurance. The scrambling portion is no joke and it lasts quite a long time. Kudos to those who do this peak all in one day.

1 month ago

I enjoyed this hike/scramble due it’s varying elements throughout, it’s not monotonous and has varying degrees of approach if you choose so, the summit is essentially a plateau. Not a route for converse wearing jelly bellies. Respect the mountains.

rock climbing
1 month ago

Ran up and soloed the Cables Route on 06/24. Started at 3am, and was back to my car by 2pm. Didn’t reach any snow/ice until Chasm View and the base of Cables. Due to Cables being a north facing dihedral/corner there was significant runoff and ice. Was able to climb in approach shoes and micros. I recommend having micros if you plan on getting to and up Cables. Scramble past Cables is clear, many class 3 ways around residual snowpack. Plan on getting back up there on 07/16 and will report on conditions for Kiener’s.

hiking
1 month ago

Starts off very easy with a well-maintained path through the forest. Between 8 and 9 kilometers you reach a campsite with a privy (~3850 altitude), and a bit later a shelter hut, right before you pass over the ridge towards the west flank. In terms of altitude and distance, it seems like you're almost there. However, this is only where the fun begins! It took me another two hours, a lot of the time using both hands and feet, to get up to the summit all the way (~five hours total). So although the total altitude gained isn't that impressive, prepare for a long day. Worth it though, you end up with a very awesome view, at the highest point in the wide surroundings.

1 month ago

If you’re looking to summit, prep for a good 12-16 hour, 17-18mi hike. We took it slow for some lingering joint pain and because it was our first time up, but it’s still quite the day hike.

2 months ago

Just summit today. Camped at Boulderfield and went up to summit in the morning. Great day.

2 months ago

Hiked 6/16/18. Agree—summer conditions base to summit. Minimal snow patches that are easily avoided. No crampons or ice ax necessary. Started at 3:00 AM, got back to the base ranger station at 12:00 noon. Parking lot wasn’t full, but I did see a number of other cars when I arrived. First 5 miles are a stroll with a gentle incline, last 2 (boulder field and beyond) are no joke.

2 months ago

I agree with Nazanin Kalani, clear to the top. recommend a good set of lungs.

hiking
2 months ago

Summer conditions - minimal snow that can be avoided easily all the way to the summit. Anything past the Keyhole is pretty technical and should only be attempted by experienced hikers!

2 months ago

This is a great hike! Don’t underestimate it though! It is very strenuous and is very long. I hiked it 6/10/18 and it was beautiful but very hard. We actually didn’t summit to the peak because the winds were so bad at the key hole. The ranger at the bottom said that was a smart move because people will hike it when it’s windy like that and that’s how they get hurt or killed. I am planning on attending it again ASAP and this time submitting!

hiking
2 months ago

Climbed Longs 7-13-17. We stayed at the Boulder Fields overnight even though we had already summited. Gorgeous views the entire way. The real work begins at the key hole, and it is no joke. Great climb! We had attempted the year prior and were turned away at the key hole by wicked weather. Glad to capture it this time.

hiking
2 months ago

Definitely underestimated this one as many people do. Hardest 14er I have ever done but by far the most rewarding one. Dont hike this if you arent well prepared and maybe do a few more 14ers beforehand

hiking
2 months ago

Hiked/climbed Longs Peak back in 2013 and it was by far the best 14’er accomplishment for me so far. It’s a long day hike of some 15 miles RT and we started at 2:30 a.m. to get up and back down before the afternoon storms hit. I’m planning to do this again soon. An epic hike for sure.

3 months ago

Hiked Longs Peak many years ago; didn't realize at the time how difficult it was. Incredibly beautiful and well worth it, but make sure you are prepared and in great shape.

hiking
4 months ago

One of the great peaks to hike, but is a serious undertaking, not for inexperienced beginners. Bad weather can blow up on the nicest of days. I've been in snow flurries in July several times. It is a long hike and a 3-4 am start is important.

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