Highline trail questions


New Member
Jan 4, 2020
Hey everyone! I’m planning a trip to do the Highline trail (East to west) and am wondering what would be the least amount of days you can do it in reasonably (I’m a well conditioned hiker). I’m thinking of doing it the first week of August because I’ve heard dead horse pass doesn’t melt out until about the end of July. Any tips, or advice would be great!
That's just up to you. How many miles can you hike per day at high altitude crossing numerous 12k foot passes? I'm sure some folks could do it in a few days. Others (most) might want a week or more. I personally don't enjoy 15 mile days in that terrain. We did that most days, but it wasn't comfortable for us.
Things to consider when hiking the Hightline: Are you going to be starting at Chepeta Lake or Leidy Peak 80+ miles, or at McKee Draw 100+ miles? Will you be taking time to summit Kings or other peaks along the way? July is best for the windflowers but you'll share that experience with the mosquitos. How much do mosquitos impact your enjoyment? The later the better for the bugs. Lots of wet meadows to cross, the earlier in the year the more. There are several stretches where you are well above tree line yet between passes where lightning is a serious concern.... The logistics for finding a safe camp site can be tricky. Generally the later in the year the better for the daily thunder storms. To me lots of reasons to go in the late August early September time frame. On the flip side days are shorter and the later you go brings the risk for snow.

As @Nick meniioned is the enjoyment factor. Starting and ending before the sun is up every day? Being exhausted at the end of every day with no real time to chill and take it all in? Do you hike through the thunderstorms or wait them out? Bringing a fishing pole? Time for setting up for those choice sunrise or sunset pictures?

I was on the trail last summer and ran into three gents that had started at McKee Draw and were on track hit the Hayden Pass trail head in five days so it can be done. I think most do the full 104 mlies in 8-10 days. Although I can appreciate the challenge of knocking out a lot of miles each day to reach a personal speed goal, for me, personally, I wait many months each year to get on the Highline and found I want to maximize my time there rather than rush through it. But that might just be an old guy talking :)
In 2001 I walked it in four nights from Browne Lake CG below and on the north side of Leidy to Hayden Pass. No problem, no night hiking, lazy evenings watching the sunset. High enjoyment factor. It's relatively easy walking really. Good trail, no bushwacking. I camped on high passes 2 out of the four nights, including directly atop Deadhorse Pass where I didn't see another person go through.

Hey everyone! I’m planning a trip to do the Highline trail (East to west) and am wondering what would be the least amount of days you can do it in reasonably (I’m a well conditioned hiker). I’m thinking of doing it the first week of August because I’ve heard dead horse pass doesn’t melt out until about the end of July. Any tips, or advice would be great!
In early August, irrespective of your experience or fitness level, I'd plan for no more than one major pass per day. It's definitely possible to do it faster, but that's dependent on the weather. You have to be prepared for the possibility that thunderstorms may utterly shut you down by 11am daily, if you've got a pass to cross and lightning is striking all around you.

Conveniently, major passes are all about a dozen miles apart on the UHT, so it's relatively easy to plan 12ish mile days, camping right before the pass so you can go over it first thing in the morning while the weather is at its most stable. Anything more than that is rolling the dice, in my opinion. Can you get away with it? Maybe, but rushing it greatly decreases your chances of success.
And if you do three passes in a day, the third really, really sucks.
Starting at Leidy gives you the equivalent of 3 passes just to get to Whiterocks. I did not appreciate that looking at the map. When I do it again I’ll start with shorter days and do longer days between North Pole & Anderson.
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