Hike Mt. Ida

Colorado Milner Pass Trailhead

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.

Overview:

  • 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.

Pack List

  • Hiking boots
  • Sunscreen
  • Water
  • Food for the summit
  • Sunglasses
  • Camera
Read More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Share

Activities:

Chillin, Hiking, Photography

Skill Level:

Advanced

Season:

Summer, Autumn

Rating:

Features:

Bathrooms
Easy Parking
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Are we missing something?

Suggest an edit

How to Get There

about 1 month ago

One of the more underrated trails in the park

The Mt. Ida hike is one of the more underrated in the park. The hike itself is a great one with a high chance of wildlife but there are many more opportunities to explore beyond Mt. Ida.

about 1 month ago

Added by Jon King

Based in Kansas City. ER nurse. Love to travel and explore. Instagram: @joneking

More Adventures Nearby

Catch a Sunset Above Milner Pass

Colorado / Alpine Visitor Center

This is a great place to be at sunrise or sunset.  Bring a camera & tripod and check the weather ahead of time. Take Trail Ridge Road all the way to the top and park at the Alpine Visitor Center.

Calvin Weibel
2 Saves

Hike the Shanahan Ridge Trail

Colorado / Shanahan Ridge Trailhead

Starting on the edge of a neighborhood in South Boulder, this 3.8 mile loop begins its 869 foot elevation gain by meandering through a pine forest.

Hike the Arapaho Traverse

Colorado / Fourth of July Trailhead

Begin at the Fourth of July Trailhead.  Day parking is free and overnight parking is $5.  Fourth of July is a popular trailhead and to ensure parking, you should arrive early in the morning (6am-ish..

Ian Glass
18 Saves