Twin Sisters Trail, Estes Park/Rocky Mountain National Park 9/16/12

Twin Sisters Trail

Starting Elevation:  9200 ish Ft

Final Elevation:  11400 ish Ft ( total gain in Elevation of 2200Ft)

Trip Length:  7.2 miles is what I found officially everywhere…My fitbit tracked just over 9 miles but we wandered a lot for pictures.

Trail Uses:  Hiker only mostly, there is limited Horse access.

Degree of DIfficulty:  Moderate to Strenuous due to elevation gain, high altitude and the steady incline for the entire way up.

Bathrooms:  None on the trail or at trailhead .  Lilly Lake has one, although we didn’t find it but due to taking the scenic route to the trail ( we got lost) we didn’t look very hard.

Pets:  None allowed

Ok we picked this one solely on the fact that Fall/winter is coming and we have a short window left to keep trying these higher altitude hikes before the weather makes them too dangerous or beyond our skill level.  I found it in this book ; A Falcons guide  Best Hikes Near Denver & Boulder.   It said the hike was a good one for amazing views and it was so right!  The views at the top were indeed amazing in all directions!  So worth doing if you can!

We started at 8:30 and it took us a solid 5 hours round trip, about 2:48 going up and 2 -ish going down.

The trail is initially marked very well, but there are no other trails that will cross your path.  That means there is then no other signage but the path is obvious.

It is a nice sized path, big enough that you could easily pass other hikers if necessary.  It is a rocky path with a steady incline almost the whole length of the trail one way to the summit(s).

We pushed ourselves a little harder at the beginning in hopes of getting to the summit faster than the past 2 weeks of high altitude hikes.  But with a gain of 2200 feet over the course of 3.5 miles, the incline kept us pretty slow going.

It is mostly shady  throughout the lower part and you get peeks of Long’s peak and its brothers and sisters all around.  At around a mile in, there is a nice clearing and you get an unobstructed view of Longs peak in all its glory:

The next mile and half is a lot of the same, lodge pole pine and peeks of the mountains…lots of heavy breathing and the body check by those hikers passing by.  For the 3rd week in a row I was chubbiest hiker on the mountain, oh well I am doing it!  As we got closer to the top, there were more and more Aspens showing up and they were in full fall beauty all golds and stunning.

From this point, the trees started to thin and we moved from Rocky Mountain National Park to Roosevelt National Forest.  There is a small break from all the switchbacks here and a little leveling off, but it doesn’t last long.  All too soon you are back to  the “twisted” part of twin sisters and switch-backing it again. When you finally break through to the last bit of climb to the saddle, it is hard to keep your footing….not because of the path, but because the views are non stop amazing.  I know I would have moved faster if I had blinders on, but really this is why I am doing the hike  in the first place.  It was simply stunning the whole way up.

When we came on the final ascent, it looked like a scramble but it wasn’t that hard really. The path is easy to follow and not very difficult, we actually just held our poles up to save time.  I proud to say my extra conditioning this week helped with the pole thing, they were not nearly as difficult to deal with this morning as they were last Saturday!   Plus you fly through the final ascent, we saw groups ahead and behind the whole way and they speed in which we met each other was surprising.  Everyone was so happy too and I get it now, it is satisfaction of making it up to the top to really see it all.

At the saddle you have a couple of choices, you can do both peaks easily if you want. The East one on your left is the higher of the 2 by just a few feet.  The west one has a very easy path up and passed the Building/solar panels on your right.  Straight head is a 3rd peak, I have read a couple of things about this peak….it is unidentified mostly but one webpage said it was the actual peak named Twin Sisters and to get to it requires serious climbing gear and skills.  The east peak has no defined path and is only a few feet higher than the west peak… but will take some solid bouldering skills so we picked the west peak.

Around the building and up is a slight scramble, so easy compared to Upper Mohawk Lake.

At the top it really astounding and I feel like I say it all the time, but this is another reason I love Colorado.  All the trails we have done are stunning, I am starting to think this is heaven on earth!  I keep waiting for a bad one, but this wasn’t it.  The weather is really tricky here, we picked a perfect day today and had great weather, but it is always windy at the top of Twin Sisters.  With all high peaks, there is a threat of a storm moving in after noon so go early.  Check the weather and be prepared!  On this particular peak if a storm moves in lightning is your greatest threat so be smart.  The mountain will always be there, turnaround if the weather changes and don’t take chances.  

It is a straight in and out trail, we turned around and went back down after lots of pictures, I will put the directions after some amazing shots!

Directions: From Denver take 36 through Boulder and then on through Lyons.  In Lyons you will have highway 7 ( left lane) meet up with 36 (right lane), stay right on 36 to Estes Park for about 21 miles.  Take Colorado Highway 7 south from Estes Park about 6 miles to Lily Lake Visitors Center, on the east side of the highway. Follow a short gravel road to the left of the visitor center 1/4 mile to the trailhead. Parking is limited, additional parking is available at the visitor center.

Published by hikingtohealthy

an enthusiastic hiker living in Colorado.

4 thoughts on “Twin Sisters Trail, Estes Park/Rocky Mountain National Park 9/16/12

  1. Thank you for the detailed info. Im going to try this hike early this coming summer.

    1. Hi Martin the trail has changed dramatically since the floods a few years ago, it has a huge mudslide scar through the trail and they are not fixing it any time soon if ever. The scar cuts off a lot of the switchbacks you climb straight up after the scar. You will see the social trail that has developed as a result. I just didn’t want you to expect it looking like this any more.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: