Hiking Colorado's High Country


Colorado's expansive high country is big enough for beginners and experienced hikers alike. With 54 peaks over 14,000 feet, Colorado claims all but 15 of the 14ers in the United States, while complementing its crop of earthly skyscrapers with a full range of more accessible summits.
For the altitude-starved and the hard-core, head off to Rocky Mountain National Park and Longs Peak Trail (elev. 14,225 feet) for a 12-hour push to the storm-rocked top and back. Wildlife, alpine meadows, and glacial lakes adorn the surrounding landscape. Those hoping for a bit less work in their vacation should look to the 14,000-footers in the Mosquito Range: the trailheads for Sherman, Lincoln, Bross, and Democratic Peaks start at around 11,000 feet, giving you the same high-altitude highs without the initial investment. Extensive hut-to-hut systems allow for long treks far from the crowds, even during peak tourist seasons. The 10th Mountain Division Hut-to-Hut system alone stretches 300 miles through White River National Forest, linking the towns of Aspen, Leadville, Copper Mountain, and Vail. Each of the 14 huts is equipped with mattresses, outhouses, electric lights, and propane stoves. The Summit Hut System, Crested Butte Area Huts, and the San Juan Hut System extend the creature comforts across Colorado's high country, offering endless exposure to this seldom-seen heart of the Rockies.

Published: 15 Feb 2002 | Last Updated: 4 Dec 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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