Starting Elevation: 8930 Ft
Highest Elevation: 10,013 Ft ( A total Elevation gain of almost 1100 Ft)
Trail Length: 6 miles – it took us 3ish hours but we did spend a lot of time on the summit.
Trail Uses: Hiker & Horses ( but no horses allowed on the Summit spur)
Degree of Difficulty: Moderate
Bathrooms: There are bathrooms at the visitors centers there was nothing near the trail head
Pets: No this is Rocky Mountain National Park and no Dogs allowed
I am so sorry at how long I have been away. I will have to catch you all up soon, I can tell you that I have had just a few breaks in hiking but have been mostly hiking every weekend. I want to get out those new trials I did while away and then one big summary of some amazing days out on the trails between then and now. First Deer Mountain!
Wow it has been a long time since I hiked this one, I almost forgot what it was like! I did it the weekend after I had company in town so I wanted something that challenged me but was not too much, because when my company was here we had done 3 tough hikes in just 5 days. I was wiped when we hit this trail.
This hike was exactly what I needed as it has great views all the way up of the mountains that make up Rocky Mountain National Park. But there was this weird haze in the air we hoped would burn off but only ended up getting worse. We speculated that it was from that horrible fire in California this summer.
The trail head is right off Trail Ridge Road and there is literally a little bit of a wide shoulder for maybe 6 cars to park. You can park along the road in some places near here, but get there early if you want a parking spot at any of them. There are also shuttle parking lots at the various gates and you can take a shuttle to so many places in the park so you don’t have to worry about finding parking.
The trail starts out super wide and very well maintained, the whole trial was very well maintained and we even talked to a couple of Park rangers we passed while hiking.
After a decent climb, while the stellar views just started opening up all around us we got the Switchback part. Sadly the haze in the air made it hard to get any really great pictures. I actually gave up taking them because there was no depth but we stopped a lot just to ohhhhh and ahhhh. It doesn’t take too long to start the switchbacks up the to flat before the summit.
There were a lot of switch backs on this one and it was a strange struggle that day. I am not sure if it was the altitude or exhaustion from the few days before with my guests in town, but it took me time to get up this part. I would not say it is particularly hard but that day for me it was.
Once we turned the corner of the last switchbacks we reached a nice flat that felt like it went on forever but was probably more like a quarter of mile maybe half a mile before the final summit climb. The summit climb sign made us want to come back and do the rest of the trail back to Estes just to see what is was like.
It was just a short steep climb to the summit, and then WOW! Such an amazing payoff so quickly!
I will tell you we hung up there as long as we could before more people started showing up. I think we got a solid 25 minutes up there just to take it all in. It was lovely. The hike back down was crowded…. and it was just around 10AM. I cannot imagine what kind of traffic this trail gets throughout every summer day, but I can tell you I was glad we got there early and had it mostly to ourselves.
If you ever find yourself in Rocky Mountain National Park and you want a great view payout without a ton of effort this is the hike for you. Of course there are so many great trails in the park but I really liked how this one was both a nice work out with great payout. There were views in every direction and of the almost the whole park. After the directions will the be the few goodish pictures I took while at the top.
Directions: The Deer Ridge Junction Trailhead is located 3.05 miles west of the Beaver Meadows Entrance Station along Trail Ridge Road (Highway 36). The trailhead is located on the north side of the road at the Trail Ridge Road – Highway 34 split. There is no designated lot, but roadside parking is permitted. Parking is limited.