Hike: Continental Divide Loop (5 day)


This is the quintessential on-trail circular route along the Continental Divide Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park.

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This is the quintessential on-trail circular route along the Continental Divide Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park. The day up to the divide increases the challenge but rewards backpackers with amazing views and spectacular alpine scenery. We’ll have the opportunity to take a day hike and summit an 12,000’ mountain or hike off trail along the continental divide. The locations will afford the opportunity to see wildlife such as moose and elk, and optionally fish in some of the local lakes and streams while taking in wide-open, majestic views.


Additional information

Group Size

2, 3, 4

Trip Dates

Call us at (720) 242-9828 for more details!

Trip Details


Day 0: Meet and go over gear, food, and itinerary in afternoon.

Day 1: We meet in the early morning and drive 3-4 hours to Grand Lake on the Western side of Rocky Mountain National Park. This drive takes us on Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuous paved road in the United States. We start at the trailhead at an elevation of 8,800-feet. The trail then ascends several moderate to steep climbs before entering a series of meadows where elk and moose frequently graze. The trail then meanders through forests of Lodgepole and Ponderosa Pines and follows flowing rivers up to our sub-alpine campsite. This area is the best area of the park to see Moose. Elevation gain: 1810′. Distance: 9 miles and 6.5 hours. Camp Altitude: 10,000-11,000’.

Day 2: Starting in the subalpine zone, we hike up to the alpine zone on the Continental Divide. This day will afford us an opportunity to take a day hike up to the Continental Divide and experience some of the most amazing views high in Rocky Mountain National Park. There are three main options for days hikes: 1. Ascend Hallett’s Peak (12,713′), a 9.5 mile round-trip hike. 2. A circular off trail hike tracing the backbone of the Continental divide where we pass Haynach Lakes , traverse the continental divide to Cracktop Peak , follow the divide south past Sprague Mountain and then back to camp for 6-9 miles.3. An ascent of Mt Ida and/or Nakai Peak with day packs involving  6-9 miles hiking and some 3rd class scrambling. Camp Altitude: 10,000-11,000’.

Day 3: From the campsite, we follow a trail skirting Ptarmigan Pass and arriving at the top of Flattop Mountain, which sits 1 mile and 800 feet below the famed Hallett Peak. From here we descend and follow the trail to our campsite at the confluence of Ptarmigan Creek and North Inlet. While hiking  we may spot bears, moose, elk, and bighorn sheep as well as a variety of birds. From this campsite, there are opportunities to explore peaks, alpine lakes, and waterfalls. Elevation gain: 2330′ and Elevation loss: 1610′. Hiking mileage: 7.4 miles. Altitude: 10,000-11,000’.

Day 4: This day will afford us an opportunity to explore the peaks and valleys below the Continental Divide and take a 7-9 mile day hike (with small day packs) into a secluded and beautiful valley.

Day 5: On day 5 we complete the loop by hiking approximately 8 miles (and 6.5 hours) back to the trailhead. We will skirt Grand Lake and get one last view of Green Mountain before making our way back to Boulder for the post-backpack celebration! Driving time 3-4 hours.

Difficulty Description:  Very Difficult – Very difficult trips take place on rugged, unmaintained trails with larger backpacks (30-40 pounds). The hiking is often steep and rugged with daily distances of up to 10 miles and elevation changes of up to 4,000 feet. For these trips, you should be comfortable hiking for several hours (3 – 6 hours) without many breaks and have previous experience exercising and sleeping at elevations of 7000’-11,000’. Trips take place at altitudes of 7000’ – 13,000’.

What to Bring: Sent with trip confirmation

Included: The services of a professional backpacking guide, Rocky Mountain National Park permit and back-country Colorado camping permits, transportation between Boulder office or hotel and the wilderness trail heads, shuttle and extra shuttle staff for traverses, all food during the backpacking trip, a re-supply drop (if necessary) gear for water purification and cooking, bear canisters, tent, medical kit, CB radio and contingency and emergency support.

Not included in our rates: Meals while in the front country (breakfast on Day 1 and dinner on the last day), laundry, alcoholic beverages, hotel overnight before your trip and at trip’s conclusion, personal equipment (sleeping bag, pad, backpack – these items are available to rent), and gratuities for your guide(s) – while this is at your discretion, the recommended amount is 20%.  If you want to add fly-fishing, cost is $100 extra per person (rod, reel, and flies for the trip and backpacking – angling guide). We also can add horse for horse drops for certain trips.


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