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Just north of Rocky Mountain National Park, the 67,500-acre Comanche Peak Wilderness features alpine meadows, rugged cirques, and mountain streams—but not Rocky Mountain’s crowds. And on this strenuous 22.3-mile loop, you’ll get a WWII plane along with your classic Rockies scenery.
Take the Beaver Creek Trail (#942) to Forest Road 142; turn right and follow it to an alternate trailhead at 1.1 miles. Drop to Beaver Creek, then watch for a glimpse of Comanche Reservoir at mile 3. Just past the lake, enter the wilderness and hike through a bluebell-strewn meadow to the Brown Lake trail junction. Head north along Brown Creek; a series of first-come, first-served campsites begins at Timberline Lake.
The next day, veer east on the Flower Trail and scope out views of the Mummy Range to the south en route to the B-17 wreck at mile 10—parts of the engine and wings are still visible from the 1944 crash. Drop to Beaver Park and join the Little Beaver Creek Trail, passing ponderosa pines and aspen groves on the way to a campsite at 16.9 miles. On your last day, take the spur at 17.2 miles to the Fish Creek Trail and follow it back to the Beaver Creek Trailhead.
Info: Free map available at ouachitamaps.com. (970) 295-6700; Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests
-Hike provided by Charlie Williams, BACKPACKER correspondent
Location: 40.5806617736816, -105.600074768066