“A moderate route with rocky terrain above the tree line, all on the way to a 13,000 ft peak.”
— Nathan Jamieson
Fall Colors · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
Old Fall River Road is one-way and closed from October through early July.
If you're seeking a way to summit some of Colorado's iconic peaks and experience one of the more remote areas in Rocky Mountain National Park, this is the perfect route. Starting at Fall River Road, you'll soon find yourself traipsing among the clouds in a high alpine tundra.
Need to Know
Storms come in regularly in the afternoon. So come early and enjoy.
Start from the Chapin Creek Trailhead which is off Old Fall River Road. This road is a one-way unpaved road that is only open from early July through September.
From the Chapin Creek Trailhead, you'll hike a short distance until you see a sign for the Chapin summit pointing east, on the Chapin Pass Trail
. The trail winds through forest until you are almost at the tree line where the trail splits. We will see this trail later but for now take a right to continue a gradual climb on a well-traveled but exposed trail on the back side of Mt Chapin. Once you get close to the saddle between Mt Chapin and Mt Chiquita, there is a faint trail I didn't take to get to the summit of Mt Chapin. Continue straight uphill toward the summit of Mt Chiquita, and you'll follow an obvious but steep rocky trail.
Toward the top the trail is hard to follow but you can easily step from rock to rock to reach the top where you are rewarded with incredible 360-degree views of Rocky Mountain National Park from just over 13,000 ft. There are several man-made wind breaks which are a welcome relief from cold winds. From here you can continue to Ypsilon Mountain on the Ypsilon Summit Route.
On the way back, we chose to take the Chapin Pass - Lower Fork
which branches off from the saddle between Chapin and Chiquita. This trail is a little less rocky and drops down quicker to the treeline until it rejoins the Chapin Pass Trail
. From this point retrace your steps back to the trailhead.
Flora & Fauna
Marmots, squirrels, and pica are commonly seen. Bighorn sheep can be seen but I didn't encounter any.