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Hike to Little Yellowstone

Grand Lake, Colorado

Details

Distance

9.4 miles

Elevation Gain

1100 ft

Route Type

Out-and-Back

Description

Added by Devin K

Little Yellowstone is a beautiful unique place in Rocky Mountain National Park with incredible colors and an outstanding view. The hike to Little Yellowstone travels along the Colorado River with meadows of wildflowers, moose, and historic mining towns along the way.

This is a day hike on the east side of Rocky Mountain National Park. The hike starts at the Colorado River Trailhead, which has a large parking lot and bathrooms. The hike goes along the Colorado River Trail and La Poudre Pass Trail for 4.8 miles and up 1,100ft to Little Yellowstone.

We did this hike in the springtime as soon as Trail Ridge Rd opens. This is one of the best times to do this hike because the wildflowers are out in full bloom and the mountains have a beautiful coat of snow still that contrasts magnificently with the green and yellow meadows. Watch for moose as they're are common in this area.

To start, follow the Colorado River Trail, which travels alongside the Colorado River through multiple meadows. Each meadow has its own unique view of the Never Summer Range off to the east. After about a mile there will be a trail heading to the left that will say Lulu City. You can take this trail and see the leftover remnants of the old mining town or you can continue straight and go by the historic location on the way back.

Your next junction will be La Poudre Pass Trail and Thunder Pass Trail about 1.5 miles after Lulu City junction. Take the right fork to La Poudre Pass. At this point the trail begins to become steepen as it heads up the canyon to La Poudre Pass. From here on the trail will be on the canyon side hill and you will begin to have views of Little Yellowstone. You will pass multiple bridges across creeks that feed into the Colorado River below. These are the actual headwaters of the Colorado River. After about 2 miles you will come to an overlook that looks back down the canyon. This is the end of the hike and the reward. The view of Little Yellowstone with the Never Summer Range in the background is stunning. Unfortunately, the weather had turned sour on us and the we had to retreat back down before I was able to get pictures.

Once you are ready to return, head back the way you came. If you didn't go to Lulu City on the way you can can take the trail to Lulu which will return to the main Colorado Trail back to the parking lot. Lulu City is a great place to have lunch or just relax along the river and take in the views.

This hike is great for late spring before the higher alpine hikes are fully melted. If you enjoy beautiful meadows of wildflowers and stunning canyons with unbelievable contrasting colors, this hike will not disappoint.

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Features

Hiking
Bathrooms
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
River
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

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Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Nearby

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Hike to Timber Lake

Photograph Moose in Rocky Mountain National Park

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Backpack Alpine Terrain to Haynach Lakes