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Alpine Ridge Trail – Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Alpine Ridge Trail, located adjacent to the Alpine Visitor Center along Trail Ridge Road, is a short, fairly steep hike up the slopes of a peak informally known as Huffers Hill—just a few steps along this high elevation trek and you’ll quickly understand how it got its name.

The trail begins across the parking lot from the visitor center, near the restrooms—look for the informative sign and the paved path leading uphill.

As you make your way up Alpine Ridge, you will instantly notice how easily you become out of breath—the elevation at the trailhead is 11,796 feet and the summit is 12,005 feet, making for very thin air and a cardio challenge. Reaching the waterfall requires an easy 1.6-mile roundtrip hike with only 241 feet of elevation gain—it’s relatively easy access and major scenic payoff make it one of the most popular hikes in the park, so plan to start as early as possible to avoid the masses.

Few people venture out along this trail, most visitors are content to view the tundra from inside the visitor center, but for those who brave the sometimes brutal wind (which can be quite cold even in summer) to climb to the top are rewarded with fantastic views of open expanses.

In addition to admiring the sweeping vistas, be sure to look down—informative signs line the sides of the paved path, pointing out numerous tundra plants, explaining surrounding geology and the fragile tundra, and providing facts about the local plant and animal life.

From the top of Huffers Hill the view is incredible—vast 360 degree mountain panoramas of the Never Summer Range and the Mummy Range make the trek completely worth the effort.

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