Continental Divide Trail, Rocky Mtn N.P. (July 2017)

Jon does a couple solo trips each year and I realized that I needed to nurture my friendships with fellow adventurers. So I reached out to my girlfriend Chelsea to see if she had any interest in meeting up in Colorado for a girls backpacking trip. She said “yes” and I started planning!

We wanted to leverage the long holiday weekend of July 4th, so we’re trying to work around that.

I would be flying into Denver most likely, and Chelsea would be driving from Kansas. So staying in the Denver vicinity was a goal.

Step 1: Permits

Online March 1st @ 8 am Mountain Time (7 am PST)
Make reservation here: https://www.pay.gov/public/form/start/68498987 Sample of reservation form: https://www.pay.gov/public/form/preview/pdf/68498987

Continental Divide Loop, Rocky Mountain National Park

Success! We secured permits for our first choice dates and route option (below)
[Trailhead approx. 1.5 hours from Denver]

  • Start at Bear Lake Trailhead
  • Hike Flattop Mountain Trail 4.2 miles to join the Continental Divide trail
  • Travel clockwise on the Continental Divide Trail, approx. 5 miles to North Inlet Junction campsite
    • Typically snow free mid-June
    • Day 1 approx. miles = 9.2 miles
  • Continue clockwise along trail (trial is now North Inlet Trail) 6.8 miles to Tonahutu trailhead.
  • Continue along Tonahutu Creek Trail to Sunset campsite – another 5 miles (-ish)
    • Typically snow free mid-June
    • Day 2 approx. miles = 11.8 miles
  • Continue clockwise along Tonahutu Creek Trail back to Bear Lake Trailhead
    • Day 3 approx. miles = 12.8 miles

Total miles = 33.8 miles

Pictures and info on Flattop Mountain Trail: https://www.alltrails.com/explore/trail/us/colorado/flattop-mountain-trail

Bear Canister

We’ll need to carry one on this trip, and it’s a tight fit in my 60L backpack.

This site had some good packing tips: http://sierrawild.gov/bears/how-pack-bear-can
https://thebigoutside.com/ask-me-how-to-load-a-bear-canister-into-a-backpack/

Resources:

https://www.nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/wild_guide.htm

Costs:

Wilderness Reservation: $26

Camping, first night at Glacier Basin Campground: $26

National Park Entrance: $20-$30

Other resources/ideas if we can’t get permit:

https://backpackinglight.com/forums/topic/47266/

 

Other stuff

Option 1: [approx. 2 hours from Denver]

  • Start at Tonahutu trailhead, trail clockwise along Continental Divide Trail (aka Tonahutu Creek Trail)
  • Camp around Renegade campsite area (typically snow free mid-July). Consider Haynack or Timberline (both typically snow free July 7/9th)
    • Day 1 approx. miles = 9.3 miles
  • Continue clockwise along Tonahutu Creek Trail to whatever campsite we can reserve  in the North Inlet Junction area
    • Typically snow free mid-June
    • Day 2 approx. miles = 9.3 miles
  • Continue clockwise along trail (trial is now North Inlet Trail) 6.8 miles to Tonahutu trailhead.
    • Day 3 approx. miles = 6.8 miles

Option 1 total miles = 25.4 miles

Pictures and info on Granite Falls section, would pass on Day 1: https://www.alltrails.com/explore/trail/us/colorado/granite-falls

We would pass the turn off for Lake Nanita on Day 3. Adds 6.4 miles round trip. Including as an option/as references for Day 3 scenery. https://www.alltrails.com/explore/trail/us/colorado/lake-nanita-trail

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