Colorado – Rocky Mountain National Park, Part 2

On of the main reasons I’d wanted to be in Colorado was to get outside so after our easy first day in RMNP, M and I decided to try something a little more challenging. Another early morning start, and we were on the trail for 12, 700 ft. Hallett Peak just after 7 am.

Hallett Peak is accessed from the Bear Lake trailhead, so with our early start M and I were able to grab a coveted parking spot at the trailhead after only a short drive. We ate breakfast in the parking lot, slathered on sunscreen and checked the weather report with the warden. The park doesn’t actively maintain a trail to Hallett Peak, but they have a marked trail as far as Flattop Mountain, and then from there it is pretty easy to pick your way to the summit of Hallett.

The trail starts climbing through the trees from Bear Lake, but it doesn’t take long before you can get glimpses of the mountains.

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One advantage to high elevation trailheads is that it doesn’t take much time before you’re above the tree line.

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The Emerald Lake viewpoint (we were down on the shores of the lake the previous day) – this is the “official” start of the above tree line portion of the trail and they have a large warning sign about lightening.

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After about 4.5 miles of hiking, we reached the summit of Flattop Mountain. From here, we followed the cairned path towards the summit of Hallett.

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Hallett was one of those summits where I didn’t realize I was almost there until I’d made it. You feel like you’re going to climb forever, but it really only takes about 20 minutes of climbing once you’ve crossed the “flat” area between the two peaks. We celebrated our success with a ton of summit photos since it was just us and one other small group up there. The day had started cloudy but the sun came out and lit up the surrounding peaks in time for our photos.

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Since it was way too early (and a little too chilly) for lunch, we headed down fairly quickly and didn’t waste much time working our way back down to the car.

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My calves were angry after all the walking, and M is only 4 months post-ACL surgery, so we were both pretty happy to be back down in the parking lot. We celebrated our successful hike by driving into Estes Park for a giant piece of peanut butter pie (after 10 miles, and 3200 ft. of elevation gain, we’d earned that pie) and to check out the Stanley Hotel (famous for many things, including Dumb and Dumber). After all that, we headed back to our campsite and cooked dinner in tin cans over the fire – a brand new camping experience for me.

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Up next: scenic mountain drives and more Dumb and Dumber references as we work our way towards Aspen…

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