Location: Rocky Mountain National Park
Distance from Denver: ~90mi (2.5 hrs) ♡ ♡
Hike: ~4mi RT to Forest Canyon Pass ♡ ♡ ♡
Difficulty: Easy ♡ ♡ ♡
Parking Situation: Large lot that fills up quickly, but also quick turnaround given the number of tourists ♡ ♡
Parking Fee: N/A
Happy Monday, friends! How was your weekend? We can’t believe fall is officially here - from the crisp, cool mornings, to all of the changing colors, summer seems like a faraway memory. Like many other Coloradans, we went looking for fall colors over the weekend and what better place than at Rocky Mountain National Park?
Brandon had run a 5k marathon the day before we hiked this, so we were looking for something easy on the calves. We remembered a Ranger telling us that the Milner Pass area was one of his favorites, so we packed up our winter gear and set off towards the top of RMNP!
When you think of fall colors, you most likely think of gorgeous golden aspens…but you guys! The alpine tundra also experiences the wonderful golden hues that makes everything just POP. We would have never guessed this to be the case and were so thankful we took the trip up here!
The path starts at the Alpine Visitor Center along Trail Ridge Road. Cross the road (carefully!) and you’re at the starting point for this stunner. Because, literally, there is no other word for this hike! If you look closely at the picture above, you will see Trail Ridge Road so essentially you are walking parallel to it. But honestly, you can hardly hear the cars zooming by! This hike is so serene and empty, we literally only saw four other people over the course of 2 hours.
If picture perfect views are what you desire, then this hike will not disappoint! You are nestled high among the surrounding peaks and it almost appears the grass around you is ablaze given the vibrant colors! I remember the many times when we drove along Trail Ridge thinking to myself that I wanted to hike this valley and be near the lakes that seemed so far away from the paved road. This is worth the trip for any true mountain fan!
We didn’t hike the entire length of Milner Pass / Ute Trail given it is 8mi RT and we wanted to be home in time for dinner! Instead, we trekked to the Forest Canyon Overlook and then turned back. We found that this made the round trip hike clock in at around 4mi, which is exactly what we needed to get out into the mountains and stretch our legs.
We also saw a storm approaching in the distance and figured we did not want to be stuck at the top of the ridge when it approached. So we high-tailed it back towards our car at the Alpine Visitor Center. Funny enough, the hike back was a little more strenuous because there is a bit of an incline/elevation gain but nothing that had us panting or regretting this hike. I mean, with vistas like these, we wouldn’t have minded if it was harder! ♡
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