Lately I’ve craved these hikes above the tree line, especially since my altitude sickness incident over the 4th of July weekend. I was determined to do better next time. So the following weekend, we tried another high elevation hike. Hence, the Ute Trail, divided into two sections. We took to the West route beginning near the Alpine Visitor Center where Old Fall River Road ends and Trail Ridge Road begins.
But first, we stopped at Baba’s Burgers in Estes Park. This place is not exactly cheap but for a high quality, hand-pattied burger, it’s worth the cost. Add on some fried mushrooms, and I’m happy as a clam. Their outdoor seating was pretty snazzy.
We drove through the crowded park and slowly puttered down Fall River Road. We stopped at Chasm Falls, one of my favorite waterfalls in the park, and continued down the one-lane dirt road. Once we reached the top 11 miles later, we found a parking spot immediately and made our way towards the trail.
I knew what the park had to offer, since we’ve driven this loop several times. But car tours differ tremendously from walking on foot. For one, the trail we chose cut down the side of the mountain, and we soon lost sight of the road and the cars as the trail gave way to dwarfed plants and sunny skies. Also, you’re more likely to spot wildlife from the trail versus your car. And driving in the car doesn’t challenge your physical capabilities; Lord knows I am all about hiking. Bonus: We had the trail to ourselves, (with the exception of two other couples) since tourists normally go for the easy hikes at lower altitudes. Skilled hikers attempt the alpine tundra trails, while flat-landers stick with Bear and Sprague Lake.
The wind at 12,000 feet reminded me of the beach. At a crisp 68 degrees, this must have been the mild summer weather I’ve so often heard about. Hiking 6 miles in such perfect weather conditions felt unusually easy. The gains were minimal, but alas, I had problems with catching my breath. We didn’t finish the hike, but maybe one day.
Unless we find a better trail at Rocky Mountain National Park, this one has to be my favorite. The mountain views, the wind and the wild flowers on a reasonably flat surface make this hike worth trying. When our visitors arrive in August, I plan to show them this trail.
This is why we moved to Colorado: To make the most of our weekends and to get outside. Still need to post about a few others hikes, but in the meantime, here’s this: