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This 3.4-mile hike is relatively easy compared to other Rocky Mountain National Park dayhikes with bigger elevation gains. Being on the west side of the park, it attracts less crowds than other popular dayhikes and is great choice for younger kids or flattlanders not acclimated to the high altitude.
Start at Green Mountain trailhead and follow the well-marked trail under the cool shade of evergreens (firs, spruce, and pines). You’ll gain roughly 600 feet in 1.8 miles. At mile 1.5, the trail veers left away from the main drainage, passes the marshy divot of a remnant alpine tarn to Big Meadows.
It’s all exploration from here. Your choice: Go left or right on the Tonahutu Creek Trail and check out the vast Big Meadows region complete with big five-star mountain views. Be quiet: Its auburn marshlands also attract elk and moose. Got time for overnight? Pitch a tent at Big Meadows campsite (south of the trail junction and across the creek). When ready, backtrack to trailhead.
INFO For information on permits, current trail and camp conditions, and wilderness guidelines, go to nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/backcountry.htm
PERMIT A wilderness permit is required for all overnight camping in the backcountry. Reservations accepted ($20 administrative fee for permits during peak season). nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/backcntry_guide.htm
CONTACT Rocky Mountain National Park, (970) 586-1206; nps.gov/romo
-Mapped by Kris Wagner