Challenging Hikes Around Rocky Mountain National Park – Brownfield's

Challenging Hikes


Challenging hikes are greater than 10 miles round trip with significant elevation gain.  These hikes should be attempted only after acclimating to the area and conditions. 

The hikes in this category require food, water, and preparation for weather changes. 


 Longs Peak

(7.4 miles/4,859 feet)

This hike begins at the Longs Peak trail head.  To hike this summit, the Keyhole route is the way to go.  There are many technical routes, but the Keyhole is the only non-technical path to the top.  The hike climbs through the trees for the first couple of miles, emerges to a beautiful tundra trail until the Boulderfield.  The next goal is the Keyhole, which divides the east from the west.  Passing through the Keyhole leads up the Trough, which scrambles up a couloir to the Narrows.  The steep drop off can be unnerving as it is only three feet wide through its narrowist passage.  Then is it up the homestretch. 

Thunder Lake

(6.2 miles/2,074 feet)
This hike begins at the Wild Basin Trailhead.  Passing Copeland Falls leads to a Campsite Shortcut Trail which cuts almost 0.7 miles from the trail, but also by passes Calypso Cascades and Ouzel Falls.  The trail passes through forest before descending to a meadow right before reaching the lake.  A patrol cabin sits on the edge of the lake.  

Lion Lake #1 & #2

(6.3 miles/2,580 feet;6.9 miles/2,920 feet)
Lion Lake #1 is one of the most scenic lakes in the park.  The hike begins at the Wild Basin Trailhead.  The lake sits in a beautiful basin with Mount Alice and Chiefs Head Peak towering above.  Lion Lake #2 lies just above Lion Lake #1.  A faint trail leads from Lion Lake #1 from the eastern side of the lake. 

Lawn/Crystal Lakes

(6.3 miles/2,447; 7.9 miles/2,960 feet)

Lawn Lake trail begins at the Alluvial Fan and follows the Roaring River.  The 1982 flood damage is still quite visible along the route.  The lake sits in a meadow, which resembles a lawn.  A patrol cabin is near the lake.  A bit farther up the trail lies Crystal Lake, a large alpine lake surrounded by granite.