Colorado advice?? Other trip suggestions??

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DCastle

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May 30, 2018
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Hi everyone! Looking for some advice on a 3-4 night backpacking trip the last week of August. I have looked at 4 Pass Loop - Maroon Bells, and also the Needleton loop in the Weminuche wilderness. I am worried about the crowds in Maroon Bells, and worried about the monsoon season in Weminuche. How bad are the crowds at Maroon Bells - will we have trouble finding a camping spot? I am also worried about being miserable in trying to avoid thunderstorms in Weminuche. Anyone with advice on this? Any advice on any other trips we should consider away from the crowds and with lower risk of daily thunderstorms? It is a group of 4 - 50 year olds. We hiked the Sawtooths last year and Glacier the year before, so we do have some experience. We are not 100% set on Colorado either if anyone has any other suggestions for a great trip!
 

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Wanderlust073

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Last week of August things will probably be winding down, but no matter where you end up I'd still plan for some afternoon storms in the mountains. Any well-known spots like you mentioned are going to be crowded. Avoiding weekends and picking challenging routes helps with crowd avoidance to some extent.
 

Janice

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Last June we were planning to hike the Needleton loop but couldn't because of the fires (the San Juan Wilderness was closed and the train wasn't running). We searched around for other options and ended up doing a 4-night almost-loop in the Holy Cross Wilderness. It was late June rather than August, so I don't know if the scenery would be as beautiful without the snow patches and wildflowers, but we thoroughly enjoyed it, and it wasn't crowded at all. We're in our mid-50s, and one person had trouble with the altitude so that part of the group had to exit early, but my husband and I really enjoyed the big views on the high passes. I never got around to posting a trip report, but if you're interested let me know and I can provide details.
 

mike_offerman

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Yeah, about any place in the mtns will have a chance of thunderstorms. For less crowded options you could look at the Comanche Peak Wilderness, Mt. Zirkel Wilderness, Rawah Wilderness or the Flat Tops Wilderness. These are all in the Northern part of the state.
 

DCastle

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Yeah, about any place in the mtns will have a chance of thunderstorms. For less crowded options you could look at the Comanche Peak Wilderness, Mt. Zirkel Wilderness, Rawah Wilderness or the Flat Tops Wilderness. These are all in the Northern part of the state.
Thank you for the suggestions!
 

DCastle

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Last June we were planning to hike the Needleton loop but couldn't because of the fires (the San Juan Wilderness was closed and the train wasn't running). We searched around for other options and ended up doing a 4-night almost-loop in the Holy Cross Wilderness. It was late June rather than August, so I don't know if the scenery would be as beautiful without the snow patches and wildflowers, but we thoroughly enjoyed it, and it wasn't crowded at all. We're in our mid-50s, and one person had trouble with the altitude so that part of the group had to exit early, but my husband and I really enjoyed the big views on the high passes. I never got around to posting a trip report, but if you're interested let me know and I can provide details.
I will look at that area. If we go that route, would be grateful to have your trip info. I will contact you if we do. Thank you!
 

RyanP

Formerly bob32
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Mar 1, 2015
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I assume by "Needleton Loop" you are referring to the semi-loop that goes from Elk Park to Needleton (taking the train)? If so, 3-4 days probably isn't enough time for that; your hiking time the first and last days will be limited due to the train schedule, and most people prefer more days for that route (I haven't done that route myself yet, but I have looked into it, and am planning on doing a different route in that area over 5 days this summer).

The 4-pass loop will be crowded, but not as crowded in late August as it is earlier in the summer (I've done both). You will probably be able to find a campsite fine, but you will want to be an early schedule, and your campsite may be close to other campsites. 3-4 days is a nice amount of time for that one. I would recommend doing the loop counter-clockwise if you do it in 3 days, or clockwise if you do it in 4. It's an amazing trip, and worth the crowds in my opinion (although others may disagree).

Another good option for 3-4 days is the Indian Peaks wilderness. It is somewhat crowded but not as crowded as the 4-pass loop. Also, permits are required, so you basically have a guarantee that it won't be too crowded to find a campsite. There is a nice loop there that goes over Buchanan Pass and Pawnee pass that is about the same length as the 4-pass loop but with slightly less elevation gain. I would recommend doing that one counter-clockwise. If you do it in 4 days, I would recommend a rest day at Crater Lake (Lone Eagle Cirque), where you could climb Cherokee Peak (or at least the sub-peak on the way to Cherokee); Mike (who responded above) has a nice trip report of that area from last summer.
 

RyanP

Formerly bob32
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Oh, I just read your original post more carefully and noticed that you said 3-4 nights, not 3-4 days. The Elk Park-Needleton loop may be good then. Although if you're all flying in from out of state, I would personally recommend considering the Winds (Wind River Range in WY) at that time of year...
 

Venchka

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Aug 6, 2015
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Are Y’all aware of the bear can requirements on the 4 Pass Loop?
Are you driving or flying? How many cars will you have?
If you decide to do the train trip, leaving from Silverton can save y’all some money.
+++ The Wind River Range! Elkhart Park to Island Lake. Day hike into Titcomb Basin. Can’t miss. Late August was cowboy camping for me in 2017.
Wayne
 

DCastle

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Thanks for the great information. We are flying in from Missouri. I have been looking at the Wind River Range, and it looks amazing. We are going with another couple. If we can convince them to hike in grizzly country I think we will go there! Do you have a favorite route you would suggest?
 

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DCastle

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Joined
May 30, 2018
Messages
9
Are Y’all aware of the bear can requirements on the 4 Pass Loop?
Are you driving or flying? How many cars will you have?
If you decide to do the train trip, leaving from Silverton can save y’all some money.
+++ The Wind River Range! Elkhart Park to Island Lake. Day hike into Titcomb Basin. Can’t miss. Late August was cowboy camping for me in 2017.
Wayne
We are flying. If needed we can rent 2 cars. AFter some research - I am convinced we should to do the Wind River Range. It looks perfect. I will look at the route you suggested. Thank you for your suggestions!
 

Venchka

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I've only been once. We went in at Big Sandy Trailhead. Most of our group went to The Cirque of the Towers and circled around to the north and back to Big Sandy.
Thinking that Y'all might be in a rental car, I suggested Elkhart Park. The road to the trailhead is paved from Pinedale. Titcomb Basin is classic Wind River country. Search the Trip Planning and Trip Reports here. I'm sure you will find a lot of good information on the Island Lake & Titcomb Basin area.
Jackson Hole is the closet airport to Pinedale & Elkhart. It's also MUCHO Expensive. Try Salt Lake City airport. I've driven and ridden a bicycle from the SLC airport to Pinedale & Jackson. It's a very pleasant drive.
Good luck.
Wayne
 

Janice

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Dec 5, 2017
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Thanks for the great information. We are flying in from Missouri. I have been looking at the Wind River Range, and it looks amazing. We are going with another couple. If we can convince them to hike in grizzly country I think we will go there! Do you have a favorite route you would suggest?
I'm also interested to hear suggestions for Wind River routes..
 

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