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High-alpine route connecting all significant summits of the ridgeline around Berthoud Pass.

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13,558' 4,132 m


8,579' 2,615 m


13,386' 4,080 m


13,375' 4,077 m



Avg Grade (7°)


Max Grade (33°)

Dogs Unknown

Features Geological Significance · Views · Wildflowers


The Berthoud Ridge Traverse is a high-alpine loop in Colorado's Front Range that partly follows the course of the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) but stays high up on the ridgeline and includes all significant summits along the spine of the mountains. Most of the traverse is above the treeline with vast sections of off-trail travel. The route begins and ends at Berthoud Pass where the CDT crosses Highway 40 West making this an accessible adventure with little transportation logistics despite its length.

Over the course of 42 miles of distance and 15,420 feet of elevation gain, the traverse connects five peaks above 13,000 feet and five peaks above 12,000 feet. This includes the summits of Stanley Mountain (12,530') and Vasquez Peak (12,940') in the Vasquez Peak Wilderness and the summits of Mount Machebeuf (12,250'), Woods Mountain (12,940'), Mount Parnassus (13,580'), Bard Peak (13,645'), Robeson Peak (13,104'), Engelmann Peak (13,376'), Breckenridge Peak (12,864'), and finally Mount Flora (13,127').

Starting at Berthoud Pass going counter-clockwise, for the first 14 miles the route stays on the ridge above or on the CDT. Instead of going down the Herman Gulch, the route continues for 14 miles on the ridgeline all the way down until it passes through the town of Empire. From here, at the lowest point on the elevation profile, the route climbs back up and over the last peak for the final 12 miles.


The route starts at the Berthoud Pass trailhead following the CDT climbing up to Stanley Mountain. From the summit of Stanely Mountain, take the steep off-trail downhill to Vasquez Pass on the west side. From the pass, ascend Vasquez Peak following the ridge as closely as possible. This section is steep and mildly technical but nothing above class 2. From the summit of Vasquez Peak, descend down to the saddle to meet back up with the CDT.

Follow the CDT on the ridgeline past Jones Pass until the saddle to Herman Gulch. Woods Creek is a good opportunity to refill water. Alternatively, take a short detour to Herman Lake. Instead of going down the Herman Gulch trail, leave the CDT, head East, and make your way over the connected summits of Mount Machebeuf, Woods Mountain, Mount Parnassus, Bard Peak, Robeson Peak, and Mount Engelmann before following the ridge down to the town of Empire. West Fork Clear Creek right off Country Road 232 is the next good opportunity to refill water.

From downtown Empire, head North and start climbing up Country Road 251 which turns into the gnarly, steep jeep roads North Empire Road and North Empire Creek. At treeline, you have the choice to follow the Jeep road to Bill Moore Lake or take the singletrack connecting directly to the CDT trail. Follow this section of well-marked and well-maintained trail up the ridge of Breckenridge Peak and finally up and over Mount Flora. The final section of the route is a smooth downhill past Colorado Mines Peak back to the Berthoud Pass trailhead.

Shared By:

Benjamin Wiederkehr

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in Colorado


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Fall color and snow dusting over Herman Gulch.
May 12, 2016 near Georgetown, CO
Bard Peak towards Engelmann Peak.
Aug 7, 2023 near Georgetown, CO
CDT towards Pettingell Peak
Aug 7, 2023 near Georgetown, CO
Vasquez Peak Wilderness
Aug 7, 2023 near Winter…, CO
Great, well maintained singletrack on the way to Stanley Mt.
Sep 17, 2015 near Winter…, CO
Blue Lake from the ridgeline
Oct 17, 2017 near Winter…, CO



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