Flat Tops Explorer
- Convenience of meeting in Denver
- Wonderful rejuvenating solitude
- Ascent two Flat Tops peaks
- Creeks tumbling from the high country
- High plateaus & alpine tundra
- Abundant wildlife habitat
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 Flat Tops Explorer follows a beautiful route around Trappers Lake, exploring the high plateau and alpine lakes. A combination of moving campsites and day hiking creates opportunities to view wildflowers, herds of elk, marmot, and lakes filled with Colorado Cutthroat Trout. Day 4 grants the chance to hike one of the tallest summits in the region, Trappers Peak (12,002 ft.). Returning to civilization will come far too soon after experiencing this such beauty, adventure.
Trip Dates & Booking
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- Shuttle to Trailhead: 6 hours
We will meet at Union Station in Denver, Colorado at 10:00am. 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.
- Hiking Mileage: 7 miles
- Elevation Gain: 2,000 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.
- Hiking Mileage: 6.5 miles
- Elevation Gain/Loss: 1000 feet
With our camp located in a prime location, we will rise with the sun to a full day’s adventure. Leaving camp in the same location, we hike with only day packs. We’ll explore the secluded Island Lakes Region, a stunning cirque of cliffs offering great fishing and relaxation.
- Hiking Mileage: 5 miles
- Elevation Gain/Loss: 1300 feet
Today we pack camp and hike Northwest along the Wall Lake Trail. Hiking in rolling meadows providing superb views of the surrounding mountains. Upon reaching our destination of Wall Lake, we will grab our day packs and set for the summit of Trappers Peak (12,002 ft.). The view is an excellent vantage point of the terrain we covered the previous days. After our summit, we will return to camp and enjoy the evenings sunset.
- Hiking Mileage: 5 miles
- Elevation Loss: 1700 feet
- Shuttle to Denver: 6 hours
We’ll enjoy our last campsite breakfast, break camp, and continue North along our trail. As we walk we’ll have another excellent opportunity to see wildlife in the forest, meadow, and creeks we pass. Making our way off the Plateau, we will return to Trappers Lake Trailhead in time for lunch. After sorting gear and taking in the last moments of wilderness, we will start our shuttle back to Denver. Anticipate returning to Denver generally before 7pm.
Please Note: We always do everything in our power to follow the set itinerary, however it can change occasionally based on temporary access restrictions, weather, lodging/campground availability, guest ability/injury, natural events like fires and flooding, and other potential causes.
- 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!
- Clothes, raingear, and footwear (Oboz hiking shoes and boots recommended)
- Sunscreen, toiletries and personal items
- Water bottles and a headlamp or flashlight
- Guide gratuity (industry recommendation is 10-20% of trip cost)
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? 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!
You will meet your guide and group at Union Station in downtown Denver, Colorado on Day 1 at 10:00 AM. Your guide will coordinate the rendezvous in pre-trip communication.
Check out our Travel Resources page for information on flights, shuttles, lodging and more.
Your trip officially starts at 10:00 AM on Day 1 with pick up in Denver. 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).
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 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
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
Camping on Backpacking Trips
Sleeping on backpacking trips is in premier 1-person, 2-person or 4-person backcountry tents. Solo travelers, and anyone else who requests it, are issued single tents. Top-of-the-line self-inflating sleeping pads and sleeping bags (professionally laundered after every trip) are also provided.
Fresh & Delicious
Meals from breakfast Day 1 through lunch the last day are fully included and prepared by your guide. We never use dehydrated backpacking meals, instead serving freshly prepared, delicious backcountry cuisine made with a variety of common and specialty ingredients that travel well in the wilderness.
In the Action
Of course campsites vary tremendously by destination, trip and even by the individual day of a trip. However, you can expect to camp in beautiful areas that put you right in the action to make the most of your backpacking adventure. We carefully design our itineraries with campsites in mind.