Longs Peak Trail from Ranger Station:
Distance - 16 miles round trip.
This trail to longs peak passes through three zones - montane, sub-alpine, and alpine. Longs has a unique and imposing form that is prominently visible from much of Rocky Mountain National Park. In fact Longs Peak is a prominent landmark visible for almost the whole trip up I-25 from Denver to Cheyenne, WY - a 110 mile journey. It is capped by a monstrous block of granite whose east face towers nearly 2,500 feet above Chasm Lake, a popular side trek on the way up to the summit.
The distance and altitude involved demand some serious planning ahead for those who wish to summit longs peak. Afternoon thunderstorms are very common, so hikers are advised to be off the summit by noon. This leads to two alternative strategies - start the hike at about 3 or 4 in the morning, or camp out the night before. The second involves a two day hike, and requires some advanced planning to assure a campsite.
The first two miles of the trail lead through a forest of pine, fir, and spruce passing occasionally alongside Alpine Brook. At 1.5 miles in there's an incredible view as the brook cascades below a wooden bridge, but if you start early for the one day hike you may have to wait to see it on the descent. Beyond the brook, subalpine fir replaces the pine, and soon afterwards the forest shrinks to Krummholz, elfin groves. From here the views of the twin peaks to the east and the valley below are truly spectacular.
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