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Flattop Mountain Trail

Intermediate/Difficult
 4.5 (43)

Popular trail reaching the long saddle on the Continental Divide between Hallett Pk. & Ptarmigan Pt.


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Map Key

4.2

Miles

6.8

KM

Point to Point

12,295' 3,747 m

High

9,762' 2,975 m

Low

2,533' 772 m

Up

183' 56 m

Down

12%

Avg Grade (7°)

42%

Max Grade (23°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Description

To reach the Flattop Mountain Trail, first ascend above Bear Lake heading north through young aspen to where the-the Bear Lake TH to Fern Lake TH trail splits from the Bear Lake - Mill Creek Trail. From here, the Flattop Mountain Trail itself begins, leaving to the west along a ridgeline. Soon the Fern - Odessa Lake Trail branches off to the right (northwest) but instead, continue left on the Flattop Mountain Trail, switchbacking steeply uphill. Surmount the forested eastern flank of Flattop pausing for views of Dream Lake, Longs Peak, Emerald Lake and Tyndall Glacier. Tyndall is one of only five active glaciers in the Park and is responsible for carving the valley below.

After treeline, the grades moderate and the switchbacks end. Follow the well-defined path into open tundra, using cairns for guidance over snowfields. The trail reaches a hitching post affording good views of Hallett Peak across the gorge. Next, scale a permanent snowfield and cover level ground on the final approach up to Flattop Mountain. No sign marks the summit, but the Flattop Mountain Trail - Tonohutu Creek Trail junction is generally recognized as your final destination.

This wide flat saddle along the Continental Divide offers a rare opportunity to explore the tundra. See if you can identify landmarks such as Hallett Peak, Otis Peak, Taylor Peak, Longs Peak, Notchtop Mountain, Ptarmigan Point and portions of the Mummy Range, Never Summer Range and Grand Lake.

Note: Bear Lake is a heavily used trailhead with limited parking. Arrive early to get a spot. About half of this trail goes above treeline and is very exposed. Expect strong sun, wind, cool temperatures, and rapidly changing weather conditions. Get an early start to avoid afternoon thunderstorms.

Flora & Fauna

Pika, ptarmigan, elk, bighorn sheep and mountain goat. Spruce, fir, wildflowers.

Contacts

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Trail Master

Trail Ratings

  4.5 from 43 votes

#3

in Bear Lake

#49

Overall
  4.5 from 43 votes
5 Star
63%
4 Star
26%
3 Star
12%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Trail Rankings

#3

in Bear Lake

#11

in Colorado

#49

Overall
63 Views Last Month
8,687 Since Jul 15, 2015
Intermediate/Difficult

0%
3%
21%
13%
63%
0%

Photos

Ground squirrel in Rocky Mountain National Park
Jan 19, 2015 near Estes Park, CO
View of Glacier Gorge and Longs Peak from the trail
Apr 22, 2019 near Estes Park, CO
Flattop Mountain Trail with Longs Peak in the distance.
Sep 13, 2019 near Estes Park, CO
Emerald Lake from Flattop Mountain trail in Rocky Mountain National Park
Jul 15, 2015 near Estes Park, CO
Hiker on Rocky Mountain National Park Flattop Mountain trail
Jun 17, 2015 near Grand Lake, CO
Alpine Meadows on Flattop Mountain Trail
Aug 3, 2017 near Grand Lake, CO

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Check-Ins

Aug 22, 2020
Elisabeth Ret
Aug 17, 2020
Andrew Blank
10h 30m
Aug 10, 2020
Justin Sarvela
Lower half of the trail is pretty average, but it becomes evermore rewarding the higher you get, especially above the tree-line. — 3h 45m
Jul 25, 2020
Brian Baker
Completely clear. No snow to cross.
Jul 25, 2020
Judith Eaton
Jul 13, 2020
Judith Eaton
Jul 7, 2020
Andy M
Jul 1, 2020
Mike G
After an unsuccessful attempt the previous day, due to high winds, sleet, fog and temperatures in the 30s(and forgetting my puff) had an amazing day.