Flat Tops Guided Treks
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Flat Tops Guides
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Flat Tops Hiking Guides
Colorado Treks
Flat Tops Hikes
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Chinese Wall Loop

Highlights

  • Enjoy the convenience of meeting in Denver, as we provide transportation from there
  • Spend the first night at a historic hotel in a charming ranching town deep in the Rockies (dinner included)
  • Hike the China Wall Trail- The Crown Jewel of the Flat Tops
  • Two days hiking above the tree line in alpine tundra
  • Access to spectacular backcountry fishing
  • Wildlife spotting opportunities of elk, moose, and deer
  • Enjoy our exceptional service and amazing backcountry cuisine


Description

A challenging, isolated, and scenic experience in Colorado's backcountry! The Flat Top Wilderness offers an escape from crowds, while showcasing landscapes worthy of being a National Park.

Known as the “Cradle of Wilderness,” the Flat Tops are said to have inspired Congress to create the Wilderness Act. It is Colorado’s second largest wilderness area consisting of 235,000 acres of alpine lakes, streams, peaks, and wildlife. This five-day backpacking trip is a fantastic choice for any individual aiming to explore vast amount of terrain in authentic wilderness.

The Chinese Wall Loop follows a one of a kind trail onto a breathtaking plateau above tree line. Truly the crown jewel of the Flat Tops, this hike spends four days hiking at altitude above 11,000 feet, offering phenomenal views and solitude. Experience camping in pristine locations, resulting in magnificent night skies. Returning to civilization will come all to soon after experiencing this awe-inspiring wilderness!
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Trip Dates

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800-715-HIKE (4453)

Trip Itinerary

Day 1
  • Shuttle to Trailhead: 6 hours
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, stopping for a picnic lunch along Clear Creek. Once reaching our destination of Trappers Lake, we will set up camp at Shepard’s Rim Campground at 9,600 feet. Your guide will distribute camping equipment, and food, as we prepare our packs for our journey. After a scrumptious dinner, if no fire ban is in place, we will light a fire while the sun sets and stars emerge.
Day 2
  • Hiking Mileage: 7 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2000 feet
After a filling breakfast we’ll make our way to Trappers Outlet Trailhead. We will leave roads, cell service, and people behind and begin hiking South along the lakeshore. Our beginning leg of the journey may seem desolate as it is recovering from a forest fire in 2002. Signs of beauty emerge as wildflowers and young pine trees are quickly returning. After our first mile, the trail departs from the lake and gradually gains elevation to 11,300 feet.

Rising out of the valley onto the plateau, one can understand how this region earned the name Flat Tops. Once your guide locates a campsite, we will wrap up the evening with dinner. As the sun sets, expect to see the clearest night skies you may ever witness.
Day 3
  • Hiking Mileage: 6.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 650 feet
Waking to the fresh mountain air, we will have breakfast and pack our bags. We now begin hiking on the Chinese Wall Trail, known as the crown jewel of the Flat Tops. Above the tree line we hike in a seemingly endless meadow of alpine tundra offering stunning views of surrounding peaks and lakes. This is region is seldom visited, making the trail barely recognizable. Our destination is located near the highpoint of our mountain traverse.
Day 4
  • Hiking Mileage: 7 miles
  • Elevation Loss: 800 feet
Today’s hike will likely be the highlight of our journey, as we continue North along the rolling highlands. One can’t help being enthralled by the fascinating land formations along our trek. After our first mile we will drop packs to explore these unique landscapes. Before arriving at camp, we will have the opportunity to summit Lost Lake Peak (11,913 feet). We will make camp near an alpine lake, offering a fantastic view of our previous day’s journey.
Day 5
  • Hiking Mileage: 5.5 miles
  • Elevation Loss: 2600 feet
  • Shuttle to Denver: 6 hours
Waking to another spectacular sunrise, it may be difficult to leave the solitude and scenery. Today’s hike will feel like a breeze compared to what we have done. Making our way off the plateau, we soon enter a dense pine tree forest, offering a great opportunity to see wildlife. Arriving to the trailhead around lunchtime, we will take in the last moments of wilderness before our shuttle back to Denver. Anticipate returning to Union Station around 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

  • 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? In the Dates section of this trip page, the green dates are bookable online by simply clicking on the date, and blue dates must be booked through our customer service team for a variety of possible reasons. To email our customer service team, you can click here 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 72 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 trailhead, where we will camp before starting our trek. (Union Station is centrally located in downtown Denver, has light rail to and from the airport, and provides nearby lodging and multiple dining options.)

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 the trailhead. 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.


Guide Working Parameters

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.


Group Size and Age Restrictions

The standard group size on Flat Tops backpacking trips is 6 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


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°