Sunrise over Longs Peak

Hiking Trails in Colorado | Flattop Mountain Trail

Trail Information

Trail Name: Flat Top Mountain TrailAllTrails App Map Flattop Mountain Trail

Location: Near Estes Park, Colorado in the Rocky Mountain National Park

Date: August 13, 2019

Time at the Trail Head: 6:30am

Trail Length: 8.2 miles

Elevation Gain: 2,870 feet

Elev. at Trail Head: 9,455 feet

# of Hikers Passed: 50+

# of Mnt. Bikers Passed: 0

# of Horses Passed: 0

Mosquitoes: 0

Trail Research

My son and daughter love the area around Estes Park and they had been here before with a group of friends, so the research to find this trail was really no research at all.

AllTrails Flattop Mountain Trail

The Drive from Denver

The drive from the center of Denver takes about 2 hours. The most direct route is through Boulder, Lyons, Estes Park and then on to the trail head in the Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP). Another beautiful drive is to go a little farther out-of-the-way up I-25, through Loveland, Estes Park and then on to RMNP. This route ads about 15 to 20 minutes to the drive but it is less traveled and you get to drive through some beautiful canyons west of Loveland and the road follows a gorgeous river all the way into Estes Park.

Driving Tip: The route through Loveland can actually be faster during the summer months as most tourists travel through Lyons to Estes Park.

My daughter, Grace, and I woke up at 3:30am and hit the road by 4:30 so we could get to the trailhead by sunrise. We started our drive from the south side of Denver near Englewood.

Sunrise in Lone Tree, Colorado

I have learned the best times to get out in Colorado is early. The weather is usually nicer in the mornings, the traffic is lighter and getting to the trailhead before the crowds get there is especially nice.

We had a great drive up through Loveland, Colorado. We had never taken this route before and we wanted to see if this way was better or prettier than driving through Lyons. I can’t say it’s better but it is just as nice and it is a better route when you know the traffic will be heavy.

Our Day on the Trail

Longs Peak in the Rocky Mountain National ParkGetting to the RMNP early is great as we missed a lot of traffic, plus, if you arrive early, the park entrance gates are open and there is no one there to ask for money. I’m not about cheating the park service, and we didn’t, as we have an annual National Parks pass, but I thought I would give you a little money saving tip. Another tip is, pay for the National Park pass, which is only about $80 and the one-day pass to the RMNP is around $40. You’re not paying much more and if you visit more than once then you have paid for the annual pass. Only pay the $40 if you know this will be the only national park you will visit this year.

We arrived at the trailhead around 6:30am. The sun was just coming up over the eastern horizon and the parking lot was only a quarter full or less. The facilities are first-rate and there was a park ranger there to greet us. It was an absolutely stunning day as you can see from one of our first photos on the trail.

The trail is extremely well maintained and it is a popular trail. This trail takes you to Flattop Mountain but then on to Hallet Peak if you want to continue on.

Flattop Mountain Trail Looking Back Towards Estes Park

The climb was steep in parts but definitely manageable for Grace and me. We were over 10,000 feet in elevation pretty quick so make sure you’re ready for the altitude and drink a lot of water.

I almost forgot to mention that this is the hike where Grace and I saw the hiker that had the emergency satellite messenger strapped to his backpack. I stopped and asked him what it was and that’s when he told me what it was.

He said that he hikes a lot by himself and having it lets his wife know where he is and he can always send a message if he needs help. It gives his family peace of mind knowing that he is really never alone and can always call for help.

Sale
Spot 3 Satellite GPS Messenger - Orange
  • S. O. S. - in an emergency, send an S. O. S. With your GPS location to geos, who facilitates search and rescue
  • Check in - let contacts know where you are and that you're okay with a pre-programmed message
  • Help/spot S. O. V. - request help from your friends and family at your GPS location. OR, ask for help from professional assistance organizations
  • Custom message- let contacts know where you are by sending a pre-programmed message with your GPS location
  • Track- automatically send and save your location and allow contacts to track your progress using google maps

If you would like to know more about this satellite messenger, you can see more about it here at my SPOT Gen3 Review.

The scenery was great for our entire hike and we always had great views of Longs Peak.

Longs Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park

I have to admit that this was the highest point we reached as I had to be back for a meeting in Denver by 1:30pm. We spent a little over four hours on the trail and were close to Flattop Mountain. We will have to go back another day to finish it and continue on to Hallets Peak.

This goes to show you that you can have a great hike in the Rockies and be back home by 1pm if you get up early enough.

On the way back down the trail we passed at least 40 hikers heading up the trail. Everyone was really nice and even though it was a busy trail, it was still enjoyable.

We had a chance to stop at Bear Lake near the trailhead and take in the beautiful scenery.

Bear Lake in the Rocky Mountain National Park

As you can see, this would be a great lake to get some great photos and relax for a while. It looks like there are 20 or more lakes in this area, plus waterfalls, so you could go back to this one area for years and still not see everything it has to offer.

Trail Recommendations

Grace and I love this area and this trail. My son, Caleb, and daughter, Grace have been here many times over the years as they have gone to the week-long camp at Ravencrest, just southeast of Estes Park. Ravencrest Chalet

Another one of Caleb and Grace’s favorite things to do is to head into Estes Park and enjoy some shopping, which they never want to do with their parents, and also have a great time on Estes lake in Estes Park.

Estes Park ColoradoEstes Lake, Estes Park, Colorado

This was an incredible hike. The entire area from the drive to the Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) and Estes Park is a great place to come and enjoy for everyone.

Please leave a Comment Below or Email me if you have any questions or would like to share your experience with this area.

 

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Flattop Mountain Trail

9.7

Scenic Drive

9.5/10

Accessibility

10.0/10

Mountain Views

9.5/10

Lake or Stream Views

9.5/10

Well Maintained Trails

10.0/10

Pros

  • Easy Access
  • Mountain Views
  • Mountain Lakes
  • Well Maintained Trails
  • Much More to See There

Cons

  • Heavily Traveled Trail
  • Traffic is Bad Latter in the Day
  • May Have to Shuttle to Trailhead

6 thoughts on “Hiking Trails in Colorado | Flattop Mountain Trail”

  1. Hello, and wow! Its really nice seeing such an amazing post, i was actually doing some research online when i saw these post, I actually read it to the end because your choice of words and writing skills is really something to save and come back for future referencing. I really fancy these posts a lot. Thank you for the information.

    1. I’m glad you liked the trail review. It’s easy to write about such beautiful places. Let me know if you ever make it out to one of these trails. I would like to hear about your experience.

      Rick

  2. Thank you for a very informative post on hiking trails in Colorado and flattop mountain trail. Reading your post really made me want to put on my hiking shoes and head for the mountains. Although you did the drive and hike in a morning, I would prefer to spend the night before in the area and still start walking early, but without having to do the drive. 

    What a great tip to take out an annual pass and save money by visiting more than twice a year, or arrive early.

    1. It would be better to stay in the area before making the hike as Estes Park is a beautiful mountain town with a lot to do there, without even going into the Rocky Mountain National Park.

      I bought the annual park pass so it’s free for me to go in after two trips, plus they have a drive through on the right for annual park pass holders so you can skip the long line for people who have to pay to get into the park.

      Rick

  3. Rick, I really enjoyed reading your interesting hike. Its been a while since I hiked in Colorado, and reached the summit at Pikes Peak. Your illustrations, and pictures made me feel like I can see what you were experiencing, from the views of the lakes, and was inspiring me to take with my kids and enjoy a hike to Estes Park. Is it a full day round trip trip to go all the way to Hallets PeaK?

    Mike

    1. Hi Mike. You can hike to Hallets Peak in a half day, but I would allow some additional time to enjoy the area, as there are many other trails, lakes, creeks and waterfalls nearby.

      I would recommend you get there at sunrise if possible, as the parking lot will fill up quickly and you may find yourself having to take a shuttle to the trailhead if you arrive late. The other reason to start your hike early is that it is common for storms to pop up in the afternoon and it’s best to be down below tree line when those storms build up.

      Rick

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