Colorado’s Best Hikes and be at Timberline in Minutes

One of those trails you’ll be thrilled you hiked!

We were giddy with excitement after hiking an unmarked, yet well travelled trail leading off of the Continental Divide Trail at the Monarch Crest Trail.

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Hiking above 12,000 ft and looking down on Monarch Pass


When going over Monarch Pass, stop at Monarch Crest Gift Shop at the Summit and check out the hiking trails beyond the Gondola.

The large dirt parking lot to the right of Monarch Crest Gift Shop is designated for mountain bikers and hikers.

We found most outdoor enthusiasts were mountain biking the famous Monarch Crest Trail at the top of Monarch Pass and headed to Marshall Pass and on to Poncha Springs. However, we found a trail without mountain bikers and fabulous views.


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Hiking to some of the Best Views in Colorado


Starting by hiking up the road under the gondola until you see the sign on your right “Continental Divide Trail”, with a single track path leading off the road. Take this trail.

A trail you want to be prepared for with appropriate hiking gear. Please check out “What’s in Your Day Pack” for a list of recommended items anytime hiking.


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Continental Divide Trail at Monarch Pass


After hiking through a forest of spruce-fir you’ll come onto a rough dirt road.


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Section of Monarch Crest Trail, Monarch Pass


Groups of mountain bikers may show up at this point heading for Marshall Pass and beyond on the Monarch Crest Trail.


Continental Divide Trail and The Colorado Trail Signpost


Hike uphill for awhile from here on the dirt road. Soon you’ll come to another signpost.

This is where the Continental Divide Trail heads to the right on the single track. At this point veer left and continue hiking up the road.

It’s a steep hike up from here but worth the effort!  (Bring lots of water and please be mindful of the high altitude).


Hiking to Harvard Lakes beneath Mt. Columbia

Browns Lake Trail, an Adventurous Day Hike

Ptarmigan Lake Trail is Pristine Colorado Hiking


Hidden Hiking Trail above Timberline on Monarch Pass


The dirt road ends and you’ll be hiking an easy single path at timberline along the side of the mountain.

Another favorite day hike of ours located on Monarch Pass : Waterdog Trail




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Views of Monarch Ski Area and surrounding high peaks

Views from this part of the trail were truly indescribable.

The views follow you as you hike to the backside of another mountain only to be rewarded with even more spectacular views.


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One of Colorado’s Hidden Gems in Hiking


The trail becomes narrow and rockier as you go behind the mountain but is well defined and soon you are now looking down a valley hidden beneath these high peaks.



Colorado Hiking at its Best! Solitude, Quiet, Intense Views


Complete solitude here, not a another hiker anywhere. We hiked about another mile awestruck by the intense quiet and beauty. 

We call this trail one of Colorado’s Best Hikes! 

Unsure of where the trail leads we headed back at this point.


One of Colorado’s Best Hikes at Timberline


TIDBITS for our Hike

Unmarked Trail: 8 miles out and back

Rated: Moderate

Start Elevation: 11,312 ft

Located: on Monarch Pass at the summit. Start at Monarch Crest Gift Shop, walk up under Gondula and take the Continental Divide Trail off of road. Follow description in blog post.

Dog friendly trail

No water source on trail

Best Nearest Towns: Salida, Gunnison

A GENTILE REMINDER: Venturing off trails damages vegetation, leads to erosion and impacts wildlife.

Note: Many of the links are affiliate links which means I receive a very small commission (at no added cost to you) 


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