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Rocky Mountain National Park: Timber Lake and Mount Ida

Summit a lesser-traveled 13,000-foot peak, then catch some summer alpine fishing at Timber Lake on this 13.4-mile out-and-back.

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Forget the 14er crowds. Mount Ida, one of the least-visited peaks in Rocky Mountain National Park, falls just shy of 13,000 feet and offers a real chance to experience backcountry seclusion. What this overnight trip lacks in extra altitude it makes up for in sheer strenuousness and stunning scenery.

Take the Timber Creek Trail southeast. Follow the well-maintained, dirt path for 9 miles, climbing more than 2,000 feet, to the Rockslide Campsite near Timber Lake. Be sure to pack light and warm. Summer temperatures can drop below freezing at night.

If you remember to bring your fishing pole, wake up early to catch (and release) some trout before scrambling up the saddle. Aside from the unprecedented workout you’ll get along the way, massive views await at the summit. The Continental Divide stretches beneath your feet. Never Summers sit to the west. Gorge Lakes lie in the valley below. Grand Lake and Big Meadows are visible to the southwest.

Retrace your steps down the mountain, through the saddle, and back onto the Timber Creek Trail. Make sure to save energy when you bag this peak. Otherwise your quads might hurt more from the long descent back than from the climb up!

INFO For information on permits, current trail and camp conditions, and wilderness guidelines, go to

PERMIT A wilderness permit is required for all overnight camping in the backcountry. Reservations accepted ($20 administrative fee for permits during peak season).

CONTACT Rocky Mountain National Park, (970) 586-1206;

-Mapped by MacKenzie Ryan and Patrick Digmann

To Trailhead

From downtown Grand Lake, turn right onto CO 34/Trail Ridge Road and head north into Rocky Mountain National Park. About 10 miles into the park, turn right into the Timber Creek Trailhead parking lot.

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