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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Longs Peak Summit, CO

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177 10 0
Guide 10 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List CO > Northeast
Rated
4.5
4.5 of 5 by 4
 
4
Statistics
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Difficulty 4.5 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Round Trip 13.75 miles
Trailhead Elevation 9,395 feet
Elevation Gain 4,859 feet
Accumulated Gain 5,387 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 13 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 40.69
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Historic, Perennial Waterfall, Perennial Creek & Peak
Backpack Yes & Possibly Connect
Dogs not allowed
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
18  2015-09-02 BobP
15  2015-09-02 fricknaley
8  2015-08-21 toddak
17  2013-08-27
Peacock Pool Chasm Lake & Eugenia Mine
Mike_Fels
51  2013-07-16 rvcarter
35  2010-07-22 Kenny
20  2010-07-14 Hikergirl81
10  1985-08-02
Longs Peak - RMNP
Barrett
Author imike
author avatar Guides 253
Routes 0
Photos 6,930
Trips 2,467 map ( 21,513 miles )
Age 69 Male Gender
Location Cloudcroft, NM
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Jul, Aug, Jun, Sep → Early
Seasons   Summer to Early Autumn
Sun  5:46am - 6:06pm
Official Route
 
0 Alternative
 
Water
Fauna Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Keyhole Route
by imike

Likely In-Season!
Want an exciting and rewarding day...? Head up to Estes Park to enjoy the challenge of Longs Peak. This 14er will likely give you all you desire, and perhaps more. Climbing to the top of Colorado's 15th highest peak (14,255') includes some nice mileage, a bit of class 3 scrambling...with exposure, and the prospect of very interesting weather.


The day before we hit the trail this September a hiker was flipped off the trail by 70 mile per hour winds. Lightening strikes are common. Rain and sleet and snow augment the steep sections making them well beyond perilous. This mountain injures and kills hikers each year, so plan well and consider the risks before you engage this most interesting challenge.

While the Keyhole Route provides a reasonable approach to reach the peak it is not without a variety of difficulties. It is generally considered a very good idea to begin your day early. Many hikers are on the trail before 3am, with the parking lot often filling up completely before that hour. Weekends see hundreds of aspiring peak baggers each day during the summer months. Weekdays manage to fill up the parking lot, too.

You want to be in shape for this hike. The irregular footing and the class 3 scrambling will take it out of you. Study the map and watch the trail junctures... a surprising number of hikers make the wrong turns needlessly stretching out an already long day.

The issues of high elevation hiking and inclement summer weather have to be considered and planned for; do not take this hike too lightly. That being said, trail runners have made rapid up/down traverses on this route in under 3 hours. Plan on 12 hours... if you're fit.

The route up and through the class 3 section has irritating but helpful red bulls eyes... and even a few directional signs. There are areas where the sense of exposure is substantial, both perceived and real. Read some of the triplogs and make an informed decision before undertaking this great hike.

Hike: Head up the East Longs Peak trail. Hike about 0.5 mile to a trail junction - stay left on the main trail. Continue through Goblins Forest. Switchback up a hill before crossing Alpine Brook on some log bridges. Leave the heavy forest shortly after the stream crossing and continue up to tree line near 11,000' (2.5 miles from the trailhead). Longs is now in view. Keep hiking southwest along Mills Moraine to the Chasm Lake trail junction at 11,550'.

Turn right and traverse west and northwest across the northeast slope of Mt. Lady Washington. Hike to Granite Pass to find another trail junction. The North Longs Peak Trail heads off to the right. Stay left on the East Longs Peak Trail. Next hike the ascent, easy slope, just north of the Boulder Field. Switchback up the slope to reach the north end of the Boulder Field, 12,400'. The north and east faces of Longs come into view, as well as Storm Peak (13,326'). Follow the trail south into the Boulder Field and eventually to some established tent sites in the middle of the field. There is a restroom in this area. Your next goal is to reach the Keyhole - a notch in the rugged ridge between Longs Peak and Storm Peak. The trail finally runs out near 12,800' on the south end of the Boulder Field. Follow cairns up through the rocks as the terrain becomes more steep under the Keyhole. Scramble up into the Keyhole - This is often the destination for many hikers. The terrain beyond the Keyhole is more serious and it's dangerous in poor weather conditions.

Pass through the Keyhole to the west side of the ridge. Glacier Gorge is down to the right and the next section of the route is off to the left. The remaining route to the summit is just under 1 mile, Turn left and follow painted bull's-eyes that mark the remaining route to the summit. Scramble south along ledges toward the Trough - The Trough is a large gully that ascends southeast toward the summit of Longs. About 1/3 of the way across, the route climbs up about 50' before descending 100'. This up and down adds a bit of complexity, but just keep looking for the route markers.

Enter the Trough near 13,300' and turn left to begin the 600' ascent - The route is still well marked but it can take a bit of searching to find the bull's-eyes. Generally, climb (difficult hiking really) up the center of the Trough. Some easy scrambling is required in several areas. The rock is mostly stable but there are a few sections of small, loose rock. Near the top of the Trough, climb 30' of more difficult rock to reach the top at a small, flat area. You're now on the upper portion of the ridge that runs from Longs over to Pagoda Mountain (13,497'). Longs' south side, and much more scrambling, is beyond this point.

Next, you cross The Narrows - an exposed ledge the descends slightly as it heads east across the south side of Longs. It is safest when conditions are dry, treacherous when wet or icy. Carefully climb around a couple of badly positioned rocks and continue on the Narrows - Descend slightly and continue to follow the route markers. After crossing the Narrows, scramble up onto more difficult rock to reach a point where the remaining route to the summit is visible - The final pitch is called the Homestretch. It looks worse than it is, although water or ice will make it much more difficult. A bit of concentration is still required in this area to keep the difficulty at Class 3. Again, follow the route markers. Climb up through a couple more sections of rock to reach the final portion of the Homestretch - This pitch is straightforward - follow the cracks up to the summit. Care must be taken to avoid a slide down the smooth rock. In total, climb about 300' up the Homestretch to reach the flat summit

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Note
This is a more difficult hike. It would be unwise to attempt this without prior experience hiking.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2010-09-10 imike
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Most recent Triplog Reviews
    Longs Peak Summit
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    rarely, if ever, have i anticipated a hike so much. i have literally been looking at this mountain and route repeatedly for years. based on weather forecasts, we made last minute switch to go for this one on this given day and it worked out wonderfully.

    started in the dark with frigid gale force winds howling down from granite pass. bobby had his rockets on and skyrocketed out of the parking lot. the sun rose along the shoulders of mt. lady washington and the winds seemed to calm a little? treated to a magnificent morning view of the rockies at granite pass. bob was waiting for me at the base of the boulder field and we picked our way to the keyhole wondering what the raging wind had in store for us as it blasted through the keyhole. we encountered a number of people that had turned back because of it. once at the shelter we took a minute to rearrange stuff and bob went out to "check it out"...which made me pumpkin because i knew that meant, wind be damned, it was showtime. i climbed up to the keyhole and looked at bob. he gave me the 'ol come hither gesture, and i thought "holy smokes i'm finally gonna do this...i hate you bob" and off i went onto the scary Ledges and beyond.

    bob was essential for me throughout these parts and kept me focused and calm. the Ledges were initially scary then awesome, the Trough kicked our pumpkins, the Narrows were awesome and occasionally creepy and the Homestretch was bleeping steep (and scary on the way down :o ). the summit was totally fantastic.

    we had a great trip down, highlighted by some incredibly cool and calm lady basically saving a dude who had got crazily off course and cliffed out on the Ledges. the rest of the trip down was pleasant and the weather was fabulous.

    this one goes immediately into my hall of fame. just :pk: awesome!!
    Longs Peak Summit
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    This is the year I hit the big five-oh, and when my son offered to do "something big" with me to mark the milestone, Longs seemed like it would be a worthy goal and a good challenge. With a 330AM start to minimize the chance of getting caught in afternoon thunderstorms we cruised it under sunny skies, with strong gusting winds above the Keyhole and just a few small patches of easily avoided ice. Good to know that 50 is just a number.
    Longs Peak Summit
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Peacock Pool Chasm Lake & Eugenia Mine
    Day 7
    Trailhead elevation = 9,300‘ Destination elevation = 11,825’
    My last day of hiking up here. Had a couple recommendations for the Chasm Lake hike, so that made it an easy choice. After breakfast at Mickey D’s I was on the trailhead at sunrise. This hike uses the same trail for the first 3.5 miles as the Longs Peak hike/climb. In those 3.5 miles 2,200’ elevation were gained. On a lot of the trails to stop erosion the park service has created steps from either logs 6 to 8 inches in diameter, or rectangular rocks with 4 to 20 inches sticking above the ground. On this hike there were literally a thousand or more step-ups with a median height being about a foot. Very exhausting going up and coming down with those.

    Pretty typical start of the trail, in the forest then breaking out above the tree line. A nice stream in the lower elevations. The first stop at 11,500 was a good view of Peacock Pool. So named because of all the colors seen in the waters. Then a beautiful waterfall followed and a bit of a climb up and over a rocky wall.

    The lake was fantastic. When I first got there was a unique time. It was one of few times when there was really no wind. Making the lake look like a mirror. It was reflecting the most magnificent cliffs and walls. Some walls were thousands of feet high straight up from the lake. Longs Peak had a good 2,000’ cliff then a steep scree pile ending at the lake.

    Within half an hour after my arrival a breeze started up obscuring the reflection.

    All in all this was my favorite destination for the seven days.

    There were half a dozen elk eating the plants at the ranger station at the trailhead when the hike started. Pikas and chipmunks were running all over the area above tree line.

    At the bottom of the trail there was a side trail that led to the Eugenia Mine site. A gold mine that was operated by the Eugenia family in the early 1900’s. Records show that the tunnel had reached 1500’ into the mountain by 1910. There was no record of any gold actually extracted. The park service blasted the entrance several years ago so all that’s left is the ruins of a cabin, a steam boiler and the tailings pile. There are also rotted posts in the nearby stream that used to hold a sluice.

    By the time I headed for the trailhead it had started to rain, lightning and thunder. A notable end to a good week.

    The Rocky Mountain National Park has over 355 miles of trails. If you don’t mind a lot of elevation gain I heartily recommend hiking there. The scenery, views, wildlife, streams, and waterfalls are some of the best I have ever found. The mornings are usually clear with the afternoons clouding and possibly raining. So early morning hikes are best.
    Longs Peak Summit
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Longs Peak - RMNP
    An article in a magazine titled "The Ten Best Walk-ups in the World" was the seed. I had never taken a plane flight by myself, nor had I climbed a real mountain yet. I was almost 20 and it was time.
    Longs Peak, the only Fourteener in Rocky Mountain National Park, was first officially summited by John Wesley Powell and his surveying crew in 1868, though Native Americans claim to have used it's 14,259' peak to gather Ceremonial Eagle Feathers for generations. It's Keyhole Route is considered a Class 3 scramble, but narrow ledges and serious exposure claim an average of 2 lives a year - something I neglected to tell my parents at the airport.
    I arrived in Denver, taking a bus to Estes Park, where I wandered around a bit, poking my head in the Stanley Hotel, the inspiration for the fictional Overlook Hotel in Stephen King's The Shining. Very cool.
    I returned to the bus stop, thinking I could take a bus further into the park, which I found I could not. Fortunately, one of the drivers assured me it was safe to hitch hike, which I did (sorry Mom). An older couple took me to the campground near the Glacier Gorge Trailhead and wished me luck. I set up my tiny single-wall Boy Scout tent in the dark and tried to sleep, but the excitement of the day and what tomorrow would bring kept me up all night.
    At dawn I took the shuttle to the trailhead and set off, amazed at the size of the mountains all around me. The weather was cool and the skies were clear and I soon reached Alberta Falls, a torrent of white crashing down from boulder to boulder. Soon after I came to a split in the trail that didn't seem to fit. I must have looked confused, because a beautiful girl in a black Steelers T-shirt cut off about 10 inches above her navel with amazing muscular legs asked me if I was lost and we ended up talking for a while. She had once done Longs Peak before going to work, and knew the area like the back of her hand. She pointed me in the right direction and we parted ways, leaving me totally Lovestruck. :GB:
    In a daze, I wandered higher on the trail, making it about 4 miles before taking a break as the daily afternoon thunderstorm rolled in. I was just below tree line, and huddled under a downed pine in my poncho until it passed. I made it another 2 miles before the thin air started taking it's toll. Then 1 mile. Then about one half. At mile 8 or 9 I could see the boulder field where I would camp at 13,000', but could only walk about 50 yards at a time before putting my hands on my knees and sucking wind. It was dark when I arrived and set up camp, boiling water with my clunky Optimus 8R and eating dinner - noticing the other mountaineering tents with my flashlight. I crawled into my tent and was out like a light. :zzz:
    Until the winds arrived for real. My 2 pole didn't stand a chance, collapsing with little resistance. I gathered rocks to anchor the stakes, but that only lasted for a while, and once again my tent collapsed and pounded me with each flap. ](*,) After a third attempt, I gave up, putting tissue in my ears and curling up in the thrashing orange nylon until the wind finally subsided in the morning. I emerged exhausted, but after clearing my eyes the morning sun illuminated where I was and the adrenaline started to flow. The views were huge, above and below, I already felt like I was on top of the world.
    I ate breakfast and made my way across the boulder field following the "Eggs" (a red dot of paint inside a larger yellow dot that act as trail markers) to the Keyhole, a dramatic rock flake that is the namesake of the route. Passing through, I then made my way up the Trough, a 600 foot couloir, followed by the Narrows, where things got wild. The trail clung to the edge of sheer rock, with a lethal fall one false step away. I watched a few others first, and saw how they did it, taking my time but still breathing hard. Finally I reached the Homestretch, steep but not quite as deadly, and I was on top! I had read you see an area the size of Ohio from the top, and I believed it, what a view!
    I knew it was important to get down as quickly as possible before the afternoon storms, so I took a few pictures and made my way back, flying down the Trough in no time. I was at the Keyhole well before the storm, so I decided to bop over to the Chasm Lake Overlook, where I had an amazing view of the Diamond, Longs Peak's 900' vertical rock face. The clouds moved in and I found a huge boulder for shelter, huddling underneath as rain, hail and thunder crashed all around. I was loving every minute. :D
    When it was clear I returned to camp, where I improved the circular rock windbreak and piled about 200 pounds of rocks on my tent guy lines. I ate dinner and was out cold. Somehow my tent survived the night's gale, and I actually slept through most of it as well.
    In the morning I decided to try the old Cables Route, which looked reasonable from where I stood. The European-style cables had been removed due to lightning hazard years ago, but the anchor points remained, and I had heard it could be free-climbed. Higher and higher I climbed, youthful ignorance blinding me to the ever increasing danger. I was climbing at the edge of my ability, thinking that just because the slope was not completely vertical I was O.K. I had done so little climbing I wasn't even aware of how much harder it would be to down climb if I needed to back down. Dumb.
    Fortunately, the slope eased and I scrambled to the summit once again, returning wisely via the Keyhole Route and crashing at camp for the rest of the afternoon and evening, enjoying the Marmots, who seemed oblivious to humans.
    Once again my tent survived the night and I packed up camp in the morning. The hike down was a breeze, and I spent the night below tree line, where I shared a campfire with a rather friendly group from Denver. We finished the last of the freeze-dried, and then passed around a sticky dessert. The sunset bathed the mountains above us in a golden glow as we recounted our adventures, the flames sending sparks in a swirling dance into the deepening blue above.

    Permit $$
    None

    Rocky Mountain National Park
    $20 per vehicle, good for up to 7 days. It is free to hike but backpacking/camping permits are extra. View NPS Info


    Directions
    Map Drive
    or
    Road
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    From Estes Park, follow hiway 7 south a bit over 9 miles to the clearly marked turnoff to Longs peak. follow that county rd to the campground or Ranger station just a few miles up the hill. If the parking lot is full, you may park down along the county road. Sign in at the register just after the trail head.
    page created by imike on Sep 10 2010 4:20 pm
    $17 3L Hydration Bladder
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