Premier Colorado Hiking Company

Wildland Trekking Phone Number

Mountain Valleys & Views

Highlights

  • Convenience of meeting in Denver
  • First night/dinner at a historic hotel
  • Wonderful rejuvenating solitude
  • Two unique creeks that rise in a cascades to the alpine
  • High plateaus, alpine tundra, glacier-carved lakes, meadows & more
  • Abundant wildlife habitat

Description

This four-day backpack first ascends along Ute Creek, site of the 1994 Ute Creek Fire, where both the initial aftermath of the blaze - as well as the new forest growing in the aftermath - are in full view. We’ll see cascades along both Ute and Papoose Creeks during the course of our trip, as we hike through aspen forest, vast meadows, and finally spruce-fir forest as we gain altitude and enter the magic world of the Flat Tops Plateau - a land of lakes, ponds, streams, and wildlife in abundance. The trip traverses this high plateau, soaking up views of wildflowers and pristine mountain scenery at nearly every turn.


If you fish, you’ll find world-class trout waters here. If wildlife and wildflowers captivate you, you’re in for a treat throughout this adventure.

Wildlife abounds in these rich valleys and high open meadows: we have a great chance for sightings of elk, deer, beaver, a variety of raptors and forest birds, to name but a few.

We’ll eat well, with hearty meals prepared by your guide and plentiful snacks for trailside energy.

This tour includes travel through two beautiful creek valleys, and then up onto the high Flat Tops Plateau, where we camp by lakes and running water with mountain vistas surrounding us. We’ll explore as our interests dictate, with options for gentle mountain ascents and side trips to unnamed lakes as well!
Join us for an exploration of Colorado’s Flat Tops Wilderness – give us a call at 800-715-HIKE (4453) to learn more and make your reservation today!
Click here to have a detailed PDF information packet emailed to you, or request a reservation today. You can also call us at 800-715-HIKE.

 

Photos of the Flat Tops

Thanks to Keith Darnell for Photos 2, 3, and 5-8

Trip Itinerary

Day 1

Shuttle to Meeker, CO: 4 hours
Accommodations: The historic Meeker Hotel


We will meet at Union Station in downtown Denver, Colorado at 1:00 PM (your guide will be in contact approximately 10 days before the trip to coordinate the rendezvous). Union Station is centrally located in downtown Denver, has light rail to and from the airport, provides nearby lodging and multiple dining options. From Denver we will shuttle across the Rocky Mountains to the small, historic town of Meeker, Colorado, which sits below the Flat Tops. We will check into our rooms (included) at the historic Meeker Hotel and Cafe. Staying at the Meeker Hotel is a wonderful pre-trip experience - it was originally established in the 1880's for miners and cattle ranchers, and has accumulated fascinating stories in the century-plus since, including a murder over a poker game in the 1890's.

We will enjoy a classic "Old West" meal in Meeker tonight, over which we'll discuss the specifics of our upcoming adventure. Eventually we'll turn in for a good night's sleep to energize us for our hike.


Day 2

Shuttle to the trailhead: 45 minutes
Hiking Mileage: 6.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 2560 feet


From Meeker, Colorado, we make our way on an early shuttle to our trailhead with fresh breakfast en route. We hike along Ute Creek, through broad meadows, stands of aspen then Englemann spruce and subalpine fir as we approach the wilderness boundary at 4.5 miles. After a trailside lunch along the creek, we depart Ute Creek at the wilderness boundary and climb steadily for an additional 2 miles onto the Flat Tops Plateau, where the world opens up before us with views of the glacially carved lakes and faulted escarpments that are the hallmark of the Flat Tops landscape.

We’ll set up camp by a small stream and enjoy the first of many fine dinners prepared by your guide, and then settle in with stars above.


Day 3

Hiking Mileage: 7 miles
Elevation Gain: 550 feet


On day two we’ll rise to breakfast, break camp, and continue along the Flat Tops Plateau through subalpine forest and meadow to the Ute Creek/Oyster Creek trail junction, where we explore Oyster Lake and the surrounding Plateau, with options for a short climb or two on surrounding hilltops after we enjoy lunch at a lake or stream-side setting of our choosing.

We’ll then make our way west along the Oyster Lake trail to camp at or near Papoose Lake, at the headwaters of the Ute Creek drainage. We’ll leave the trail here and enjoy the solitude and space unique to a remote setting such as this. Fishing is always an option!

We’ll have dinner by the lake, where we’ll watch and listen for the sights and sounds of beaver on the water, or moose in the sedges by the water’s edge.


Day 4

Hiking Mileage: 6 miles
Elevation Loss: 350 feet


After a filling breakfast by Papoose Lake we’ll break camp, regain the Oyster Lake trail and hike west and then north along the very edge of the Plateau to the Papoose Creek trail junction at about 6 miles. Along the way we’ll take time to explore the glacially-carved terrain about us - we’ll have lunch on one of the many high points along the way, at or above 11,000 feet. Views of the forest extend and expand west into the White River valley as we walk.

We camp again tonight in wilderness, near White Springs at the very headwaters of Papoose Creek, where we’ll travel tomorrow. As evening descends we’ll enjoy one more fine dinner together and call it a day.


Day 5

Hiking Mileage: 5.5 miles
Elevation Loss: 2650 feet
Shuttle to Denver: 4 hours


We’ll enjoy a last campsite breakfast this morning, break camp and begin our descent into Papoose Creek, where we’ll leave the Plateau for the rushing water, aspen and lush meadows that grace the land beneath the Flat Tops summits. As we walk we’ll have another excellent opportunity to see a range of wildlife in the forest, meadow, and creekside ecosystems we pass. We’ll pass Nimerick Point, which marks the westernmost point of the Flat Tops proper, and continue downstream to the Papoose Creek trailhead, where we’ll have a good lunch and begin our shuttle to Denver. Expect to be back at our staging area no later than 7pm.


Please Note: We always do everything in our power to follow the set itinerary, however it can change occasionally based on temporary park restrictions, campsite availability, weather, road closures, guest ability/injury, and natural events like fires and flooding.

Trip Details

What's Included

  • Pick up in Denver with a night of historic lodging and dinner "Old West" style in Meeker, Colorado
  • Top-of-the-line tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, and technical backpack
  • Use of trekking poles
  • All meals are included from breakfast the first day through lunch on the last day
  • A professional, knowledgeable, certified Colorado hiking guide
  • Roundtrip transportation from Denver, Colorado to the trailhead and back
  • Entrance fees and public lands permits
  • Emergency equipment including a company-issued first-aid kit and satellite phone
  • You will receive a Lifetime Hiking Membership entitling you, your spouse and kids to a lifetime discount of 10% off any Wildland Trekking hiking trip after your first one!

What's Not Included

  • Clothes, raingear, and footwear
  • Sunscreen, toiletries and personal items
  • Water bottles and a headlamp or flashlight
  • Guide gratuity (industry recommendation is 10-20% of trip cost)
See the Packing Lists page for more information.


Meals: What To Expect

All of our hiking and backpacking tours include a diversity of tasty meals packed full of critical carbohydrates, proteins and fats. We carry foods that travel well in the backcountry – rice, pastas, lentils, beans, couscous, packaged meats, nuts, breads, oatmeal, granola, and more.

For optimal taste and energy, we supplement all our meals with spices, herbs, oils, cheeses, butter, sugar, and fruits and vegetables (fresh and dried). In addition, we provide you with with an assortment of trail mix, snacks, and dried fruits to eat at your own discretion.

We regularly accommodate vegan, vegetarian, kosher and non-gluten diets and will make adjustments for food allergies. These and other special dietary requests may require an additional fee.


Gear We Provide

We provide all group gear which includes the following:
  • Deuter or Osprey backpacks
  • Sierra Designs, Kelty or Big Agnes tents
  • Sierra Designs, Kelty, Big Agnes and Mountain Hardware sleeping bags
  • Thermarest or Big Agnes sleeping pads
  • Leki or Black Diamond trekking poles
  • Cooking stoves and cookware
  • Company-issued first-aid kit
  • Satellite phone


What Gear To Bring

We ask that you supply a couple of gear items on your hiking tour. These items are two 1-liter water bottles per person and either a headlamp or flashlight per person. Basic items like sunscreen, bug repellent, lip balm, and toiletries are also important. All of these items are available online at Wildland Trekking Outfitters.


What Clothes to Bring

Please refer to the trip packet for a recommended clothing list (we email you a detailed trip packet when you inquire and when you register). All trips require a sturdy pair of hiking shoes or hiking boots (reliable brands include Montrail, Lowa, Merrell, Vasque, and Salomon), rain gear, and non-cotton clothing layers. A minimum of three pairs of wool or synthetic hiking socks are also required. All of these items are available online at Wildland Trekking Outfitters.

NOTE: See the Packing Lists page for more detailed information on what clothes and gear to bring on your hiking tour. The trip packet you receive when you contact us will have the most accurate clothing and gear list for the tour you're interested in.

Trip Logistics

How do I Register?

Ready to hike? Simply click here and complete the form to get the ball rolling. Our adventure consultants will confirm availability, and if you're ready to register we'll email you a link to a registration profile. You'll have 48 hours to complete your profile (and that of any dependents) and pay the deposit ($500).

Feel free to call us for more info - we're here 7 days a week!


Where Do We Meet?

You will meet your guide and group at Union Station in downtown Denver, Colorado on Day 1, where we will shuttle to the town of Meeker, Colorado. (Union Station is centrally located in downtown Denver, has light rail to and from the airport, and provides nearby lodging and multiple dining options.) The first night's lodging at a historic lodge and "Old West" style dinner are includedin Meeker. It is also possible to rendezvous in Meeker, if that is more convenient for you.

Check out our Travel Resources page for information on flights, shuttles, lodging and more.


Start/End Times

Your trip officially starts at 1PM on Day 1 with pick up in Denver and shuttle to Meeker, Colorado. Your guide will inform you of the first hiking day's departure time at the orientation meeting on Day 1. Generally, you can expect it to be between 5 and 8 am, although the exact time will depend on current weather and road conditions. We will drop you off in Denver on the final day normally before 7 PM (this time is not guaranteed, as a variety of circumstances can influence our exact return time).


Safety Considerations

Your safety is our top priority. Our hiking tours are led by professional hiking guides, all of whom are wilderness-certified first responders or EMT's, each with years of guiding and wilderness experience. We've developed comprehensive risk management protocols that our guides adhere to in case of an emergency, and most tours carry a satellite phone. If you have any further questions about safety, please contact us at 1-800-715-HIKE (4453) for more information.


Guides

Your tour will be led by a trained, experienced professional with a solid guiding background, years of personal wilderness and hiking experience, medical certifications, and a passion for leading people into breathtaking landscapes. Check out our Meet Our Team page for staff bios.


Group Size and Age Restrictions

The standard group size on Flat Tops backpacking trips is 5 guests and 1 guide, with a maximum group size of 8 guests and 2 guides. If you have more questions about group size, please give us a call at 800-715-HIKE (4453) and we'll answer all your questions.

Age restrictions are as follows:
  • 12 and older to join scheduled tours (mixed groups)
  • 10 and older to join private tours, with final approval on a case by case basis
  • specific logistical requirements (such as porter or stock assist) determined on a case by case basis


Weather in the Colorado Rockies

Being a high mountain environment, the Rocky Mountains are prone to sudden temperature and weather shifts. This is an exciting aspect of being in Colorado's high country. On trips in June, snow is a slight possibility, and the rest of the summer rain is always a possibility on your trip. To be fully prepared, please follow the recommended clothing list closely (this list comes as part of your trip packet when you register). See below for average summer temperatures:
     
Average Temperatures (Fahrenheit)
     
 
Month
High / Low
 
June
71°
48°
 
July
79°
55°
 
August
78°
53°
 
September
69°
45°