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Suggestions for a Colorado Spring Hike


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After returning from a trip out West, I was showing some of the pictures I took to a buddy of mine. My friend has never been backpacking, or hiking for that matter, but is always very interested in the trips I take, the gear I use, and all other things camping/hiking/backpacking related. I have invited him on several weekend excursions but I have never been able to get him to commit to a trip. Well, after he saw some of the pictures of "real" mountains and hearing how much fun another friend of ours had when he joined me, I finally have him sold on giving it a shot.

We threw around a few ideas over the weekend and we settled on heading to Colorado in late September or early October for an extended weekend trip. There are a ton of possibilities here and the amount of information out there is almost overwhelming. I was hoping to gather suggestions for a good hike to take my buddy on for his first backpacking trip.

Here is what I'm thinking:

  • A three day, two-night trip
  • Around 20 miles with the possibility to lengthen or shorten the route
  • Preferably a loop or lollipop
  • A route that includes camping near at least one alpine lake would be great
  • Trying to keep the elevation under 12,000 ft, or keep the vertical gain relatively easy

I know these are pretty specific criteria, but any trip suggestions that come close would be really appreciated. Also, any feedback on my dates, length, elevation, and anything else would be great.

Thanks in advance!

Edited by kwhowell
Added loop criteria
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Colorado Springs is not really close to great backpacking destinations. There are trails on Pikes Peak, but the great backpacking spots are a good drive from Colo Spgs. The nearest is Lost Creek Wilderness, which usually doesn't get snow early. Can't remember any lakes there. The Sangre de Cristos have great lakes and really great scenery, but not many loops. I still vote for the Sangres - article from Backpacker: http://www.backpacker.com/destinations-stories/the-high-lonesome/#bp=0/img1

Snow storms start in late September in the high country. You can usually count on great conditions, but be ready for cold weather. Go get a Rocky Mountain High!

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KW, Can't go wrong with the maroon bells 4 pass loop. It's a bit more than your criteria (I usually do it 4 days/3 nights). You cross 4 passes all around 12500 but your daily mileage/elevation gain is about 7miles/2000ft gain. It's a loop--you end where you started. I believe Aaron had a post about it last year. I have done it 3 times, doing it again in 2 weeks--if that gives you an indication of how much I like it (live in Colorado, but never get tired of this one). If not interested in this, holler and I will see what else I can come up with.

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  • 8 months later...

A spring hike in Colorado needs to be low in elevation, like the national grasslands in the eastern portion of the State. Anything above 6,000 feet will be frozen solid.

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September and October are Fall, not Spring, in the US.

The Sangres are my favorite part of Colorado. No, not loops. Just unbelievably spectacular in/out drainages you just have to take your loopsternitis medication and get done.

Groundhog Basin, I believe mid October '08. 

Sangres Groundhog.jpg

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I used to hunt elk in Colorado in October at higher elevations. There can be a lot of snow by then and temperatures below zero. That is not what you want for a newbie hiker. Try September or August. Or you can stay out of the high mountains into the first half of October. Seeing the psychedelic aspens in yellow, orange and red is worth the trip.

Edited by ppine
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