Added by Jon King
This is a summit hike, with panoramic views, wildflowers and wildlife.
The hike to Mt. Ida offers some of the most stunning views of Rocky Mountain National Park.
How to get there:
From the east, take Trail Ridge Road all the way to the west side of the park. You will pass Alpine Visitor Center and the road sharply turns south at Medicine Bow Curve. The trailhead is located at Milner Pass next to Poudre Lake. There is a small parking lot here with a restroom. If you are coming from the west side of the park, Milner Pass is located approximately 15 miles north of the Grand Lake park entrance.
- Summit elevation - 12,865'
- Approximately 9.5 miles out and back
- Elevation gain - 2112'
From the trailhead, you will hike approximately 0.6 miles until you reach a junction for the Ute Trail. Keep Right at the junction towards Mt. Ida. After about a mile you'll emerge from the tree line. Personally, I found the first mile to be the most difficult due to the steep elevation gain. From here out the views are simply epic.
The trail is well marked and maintained until you reach the base of Mt. Ida. As the trail drops off you'll see a large boulder field ahead. Here you have two options. You can hike directly through the field or veer to the west to avoid the rocky terrain. We opted to hike directly through which we soon found out was the more difficult route. If you decide to hike through the boulder field, keep an eye out for small rock piles placed by other hikers. These markers helped keep us on the right track to reach the summit.
The panoramic views at the summit are simply breathtaking. To the south you can see Grand Lake and Shadow Mountain Lake. Look east and you'll see several small alpine lakes and the majestic Long's Peak. To the west you'll have never ending views of the Rockies. Eat lunch at the summit and soak it all in.
We hiked around the boulder field on our way back. I'm glad we did because we came across a large herd of bighorn sheep. Just one more reason to love this hike. Once you pick the trail back up you can make great time back to the bottom.
This hike took us approximately 6 hours. Start earlier in the morning to give yourself plenty of time at the summit. Do your best to be back to the treeline by early afternoon to avoid lightning. Storms can develop quickly in the Rockies. Better safe than sorry.
- Hiking boots
- Food for the summit
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