Ute Trail Along Milner Pass - Snowshoeing

October, 20 2018 · Rocky Mountain National Park

The hike along the Ute trail from Milner Pass was the first winter hike of the season, and what a treat it was. There was not a cloud in the sky and I had the trail to myself. On the drive to the trailhead, I didn't see too much snow in the trees and was thinking I would should take the snowshoes off my pack, I won't need them. However, once I got to the Milner Pass trailhead, which is where the closure of Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain Park was on the west side - it was obvious, I would need the snowshoes. This was a short trek, coming in at about 5.6 miles roundtrip, and for 5 miles I used the snowshoes.

When I got to the split in the trail where you can go to Mt. Ida or go along the Ute Trail to the Alpine Station, nobody had chosen to go along the Ute Trail. What a treat, my first snowshoe trek and I would get to break trail for most of the hike. In the summer I would suspect this is a moderate hike and a trail to take kids on; it's open and airy with plenty of "Wow!" views. Breaking trail was very interesting, the sun had just come up about an hour earlier so the snow was crispy and hard for a while; you could walk on top of the snow with the snowshoes and not break through. Then there was a stretch of powder which was about 20 inches deep. Then the trail opens to incredible views of the Never Summer Mountains, the Continental Divide and Mt. Ida in the distance. The snow depth was about 15 inches for this stretch of the trail.

Since it took so long to break trail, when I got to the Forest Canyon Pass marker, I opted for lunch and to turn back here. The views from Forest Canyon Pass looking back into Rocky Mountain National Park and the Continental Divide are breathtaking and the panoramic view of the Never Summer Mountains are spectacular, everything was covered in a layer of show - just enough snow to give the mountains dramatic texture. In the summer, the trek to the Forest Canyon Pass marker would great, there are several small ponds in this area and the views are amazing.

The only tracks I saw along the Ute Trail where Moose, Deer, Rabbit and one and only one track that was unmistakably that of a Black Bear. All of the animal tracks along and around the trail where that of hoofed animals, this was the only padded animal foot print and there's no mistaking a Black Bear track. I did not see any Moose, Deer, Elk or Bear, though I did see two Sage Grouse in a tree early on along the trail and a mouse scurrying along the top of the snow near Forest Canyon Pass.

Though I would have liked to push on along the Ute Trail to the Alpine Center, at this time of year daylight is an issue, shorter days and unpredictable weather at this altitude weighed against pushing on. So, it was a perfect day. Not a cloud in the sky, nobody on the trail, I got to break trail in snowshoes and nearly nothing of a breeze along with incredible snow-covered views of Continental Divide and the Never Summer Mountains. Could not have asked for more for the first snowshoeing trek of the season.


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AREAS HIKED

Collegiate Peaks Wilderness10
Eagles Nest Wilderness10
Fossil Ridge Wilderness1
Fraser Experimental Forest1
Gunnison National Forest1
Holy Cross Wilderness12
Hunter-Fryingpan Wilderness3
Indian Peaks Wilderness17
James Peak Wilderness1
Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness2
Mount Evans Wilderness2
Mount Massive Wilderness2
Pike National Forest1
Raggeds Wilderness1
Rocky Mountain National Park41
San Isabel National Forest6
Sangre de Cristo Wilderness2
White River National Forest10
Zirkel Wilderness1

TRAILS BY MONTH

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SEASONS ON THE TRAIL

2021

The 2021 Season has started. Though the pandemic created a challenging 2020 season, I am looking forward to building on the 2020 season to create an incredible 2021 season. The pandemic has taught me a few things about when and where to go hiking. As such planning for the 2021 se...

2020

The 2020 hiking season has been incredible, even in the face of adversity. The pandemic has made for a logistically challenging season. Somehow, I was still able to piece together an incredible 230+ miles on the trail this season and able to see some truly spectacular places. Enj...

2019

The 2019 hiking season was an interesting season, this was the first season that I started and ended the season snowshoeing and a full summer of hiking for a total of just under 225 miles on the trail. What this season has taught me is that it's winter in the mountains for a long...

2018

The 2018 Summer Hiking Season has come to an end. What a season, incredible views and just over 230 miles on the trail. Even with 230 miles, this season seems short to me, perhaps I'll add something to it during the winter season - snowshoeing perhaps. In the meantime, I hope you...

2017

The 2017 hiking season was interesting, I was able to explorer more of Colorado's National Forests and get in some camping, not as much camping as I would have liked, but hopefully next year I'll able to get in more multi-day hikes. This season came in just under 129 miles roundt...

2016

The 2016 hiking season was about spreading out and exploring more of Eagles Nest Wilderness, Indian Peaks Wilderness and touching on White River National Forest - and of course a few trips into Rocky Mountain National Park. These are amazing National treasures. This season came i...

2015

The 2015 hiking season was a big hiking season, I decided to do a fundraiser for The Red Cross (I learned a lot about fundraising - it was very interesting) with my pledge to hike over 200 miles for this season, I came in at 217 miles for the season; what a great time out on the ...

2014

The 2014 hiking season was almost all about exploring Rocky Mountain National Park, it really is a beautiful park. What I learned during the course of this hiking season is, although people may roll their eyes when you say you're going on a hike in RMNP, it really is spectacular ...

2013

2013 is the year this all started. The hike to Pitkin Lake started it all. Although it was a difficult trail, I was hooked immediately. However, I didn't have the right gear and the seasons were changing quickly. So, even though this season only brought two hikes, I new this was ...