Photos of the Colorado Rockies
Shuttle to the trailhead: 1.5 hours
Hiking Mileage: 5.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 2520 feet
This multi-day Colorado backpacking trip
begins with a fresh breakfast as we shuttle through Rocky Mountain National Park over Trail Ridge Road, to our starting point at the Bowen-Baker Trailhead (8,840). From the trailhead we continue West on the Baker Gulch Trail through the lush meadows of the Colorado River Valley.
In about 1 mile we enter the Never Summer Wilderness within Arapahoe National Forest. At approximately 3.5 miles we reach the Grand Ditch - one of the first major irrigation projects in the state -, where we cross at the footbridge and continue on the Baker Gulch Trail. We’ll have our first of many hearty lunches along the way, today’s likely in the towering shadows of an ancient old-growth Spruce-Fir forest.
We’ll be on the lookout for a wide variety of wildlife in this area, and likely will be treated to a rich wildflower display as we walk. Once we reach the Parika Lake Trail junction, we continue West to camp at Parika Lake. (11,360). We’ll settle in for an excellent dinner and conversation as we plan for tomorrow’s activities.
We plan two nights at this beautiful location, with a day hike into the alpine tundra above Parika Lake, where we'll explore the alpine tundra leading to the Continental Divide. Many options exist for summit hikes depending on weather and our interests in this day among the high peaks.
Hiking Mileage: 6.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 300 feet
After a freshly-prepared breakfast we'll head west for an exhilarating day above treeline, where we'll have our pick of cross-country routes and mountain crests in the alpine tundra above Parika Lake.
If our weather is good, we'll make our way to the summit of Parika Peak at 12, 394 feet, where we'll enjoy our lunch with views east to the high peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park, and west into the Gore Range, and the vast mountain landscape beyond.
We'll then return east from the Divide to Parika Lake for camp, dinner and time exploring the broad meadow surrounding Parika Lake. Parika Peak(12,394ft) and Farview Mountain (12,246ft) stand above us as we enjoy the evening.
Hiking Mileage: 6.7 miles
Elevation Gain: 890 feet
After breakfast this morning we’ll depart Parika Lake en route to Bowen Lake, via Farview Mountain and Bowen Pass (11,476) to the Bowen Gulch/Bowen Lake Trail junction at approximately 5.2 miles from our starting point.
We can expect plenty of time above treeline, as we traverse Farview Mountain and make our way south through the alpine to Bowen Pass, at 11,476ft where we’ll enjoy lunch before descending from the Pass 1.6 miles to the Bowen Lake trail junction.
We’ll find ourselves once again in the land of Moose and big trees as we turn south and ascend another 1.6 miles to camp at Bowen Lake (11,019). Another freshly prepared dinner awaits us at this high-altitude lake just below treeline.
Hiking Mileage: 5.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 150 feet
From Bowen Lake, we return to the Bowen Gulch/Bowen Lake Trail junction (1.6 miles), hike East from the junction to the Blue Lake trail, and from there to Blue Lake (10,690) in an additional 3.2 miles. We’ll set camp, enjoy lunch and explore the high country above the Lake that afternoon with just light day packs. We’ll keep a close eye for Rocky Mountain Bighorn as we enjoy our hike into this special place above Blue Lake.
Then it’s back to camp for a hearty dinner, campfire and stars above.
Hiking Mileage: 7 miles
Elevation Loss: 1840 feet
Return Shuttle: 1.5 hours
After breakfast we’ll pack up, return 1.5 miles to the Bowen Gulch Trail junction from Blue Lake, and from there make our way along a gentle descent about 5.5 miles back to the Bowen-Baker Trailhead and trip’s end. Wildflowers should be plentiful in this stretch as we walk the Continental Divide trail back into the river valley of the Colorado.
Our 3-day and 4-day variations of this trip are backpacking basecamp trips vs. the 5-day trip described above, which is a thru-hike on which we move camp each day. On the 3- and 4-day variations we hike into Parika Lake (same Day 1 as the 5-day itinerary), camp 2 or 3 nights, and day hike each day up into the stunning high country of the Never Summers. Day hiking destinations include alpine lakes, ridges, and peaks as well as vast wildflower-laden meadows and good wildlife country.
: 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.
- 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 your hotel in Estes Park, 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!
- 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.
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.
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
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
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.
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!
You will meet your guide and group in Estes Park, Colorado on the morning of Day 1, when we pick you up at your hotel. Your guide will be in contact approximately 2 weeks before your trip to answer any questions you have, provide you with more details about your exact trip, and coordinate the pick up.
Check out our Travel Resources
page for information on flights, shuttles, lodging and more.
Your guide will inform you of the first day's pick-up time in the pre-trip contact. 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 at your hotel on the final day normally before 5 PM (this time is not guaranteed, as a variety of circumstances can influence our exact return time).
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.
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.
Guides are required to take 8 hours off each 24-hour period to sleep, recuperate, take personal/down time...etc. In addition, as part of the 8 hours off they must sleep/rest or be in their tents/rooms uninterrupted
for a minimum of 5 hours each night. We ask guests to respect these requirements and to not interrupt guides' off time and sleep time unless there is a true emergency.
The standard group size on Colorado 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 1-800-715-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
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)
High / Low