This information is compiled to assist guests who rent our Condo at the Zephyr Mountain Lodge. If you've arrived at this page as a result of a web search on Winter Park and Hiking, we hope you benefit from the information. And if you need lodging, thank you for considering us.
If you have the urge to get a little closer to Colorado's bright blue sky and white puffy clouds, try a hike high into the mountains. Grand County offers a wide range of hiking from the sedate to the scary. Nearly everyone can do it and it doesn't cost a thing.
The book is available at local bookstores, at the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, from www.barnesandnoble.com, and from the authors' own website. We make no attempt to duplicate the information published in this fine book.
Another text worth considering is "The Official Hiking Guide to Grand County" by Susie Masterson. This book is also available at the Grand County Chamber of Commerce and at www.amazon.com.
For maps, we recommend those published by Trails Illustrated, now a division of National Geographic. They are available at local sporting stores or may be ordered on-line. The waterproof design and excellent research make them the best maps available. Expect to pay $8 to $10 for a map that is generally the equivalent of 8 15' topo maps.
If you are reluctant to make the investment in quality maps, I recommend the free [from the Chamber of Commerce] Grand County Trail Map. This map is published by the headwaters trails alliance who performs much of the maintenance, signage, and upkeep for the Winter Park hiking trail system. They frequently have a project underway and if you would like to help, visit their website.
1. Always be prepared for bad weather. It can snow in July and August. Exposure to the elements is the number one danger in the Rocky Mountains. Bring Windbreaker and Wind Pants...always.
2. Bring plenty of water. You will dehydrate quickly. Should you become lost or hurt, you will need water until help can arrive. If you plan on drinking creek water, always use a purification system that will filter bacteria and giardia.
3. Protect against the Sun. A hat and sunscreen are advised.
4. Bring 10 essentials: Map, compass, flashlight, extra clothing, hat, mittens, raingear, sunglasses, extra food and water, matches, candle/fire-starter, pocketknife, first aid kit, space blanket or 2 large trash bags.
5. Be mindful of the altitude. Altitude sickness can lead to complications that can jeopardize even the strongest hikers.
6. Rule of Befores: Before you go, listen to the weather forecast. Tell someone where you are going. Drink before you get thirsty. Eat before you get hungry. Dress warmer before you get cold. Check you equipment before heading into the field. Get out of the weather before it strikes.
7. Rescue. Grand County has excellent Search and Rescue. Call 911 to activate. But don't expect your cell phone to work everywhere. Less than 25 pct of the county's remote regions have coverage.
For the remainder of this page, we concentrate on 5 easy walks that are sure to delight young and old alike. The serious hiker is directed to one of the previously mentioned books and will have nearly 100 trails to choose from. Click on the Instant Map to get a quick idea of where these trails are located. Hiking maps are available from the sources identified above.
FRASER RIVER TRAIL
The trail follows the Fraser River between the Zephyr Lodge and Winter Park
town. Once in town, follow the main street [US 40] out the the far end.
At the Cozens museum you rejoin the trail as it once again follows the Fraser
River through wetlands.
BONFILS-STANTON / JIM CREEK
Take a modest yet educational walk in the Jim Creek area directly across Hwy 40 from the Winter Park resort entrance sign and just a half mile from the Zephyr Mountain Lodge. The route is a gentle 1.5 mile loop with picnic tables and benches plus a few signs to explain the local flora and fauna. If you are lucky, you may catch a moose munching on the plentiful willow branches.
Map: Information Kiosk at start, or
local Winter Park trail map
LOWER ROOF OF THE ROCKIES
and FANTASY MEADOW.
Take the Zephyr Express Chair lift [requires ticket] to the top of Winter Park Mountain. Once on top, walk the Lower Roof of the Rockies trail. At the start, the vistas of mountain peaks are unsurpassed. Once at Fantasy Meadow, relax at the picnic spot and enjoy the solitude of a mountain stream as it nourishes a meadow of flowers. You are hiking at 10,700 feet so be careful to monitor your exertion. The distance to Fantasy Meadow is 1 mile. You will gain a total of just 70 feet. But in the process, you will gain and loose a few hundred feet more. You will cross a handful of ski trails on your route.
For your return, you can choose several routes. The most direct is to return via the same Lower Roof of the Rockies trail. If the weather is threatening, this most direct route is advised. But if you got an early start, have plenty of water, and are feeling pretty strong, then choose Upper Roof of the Rockies as your return route.
Returning by Upper Roof of the Rockies will add 2 miles to the total trip [new total is about 4 miles]. You will cross several more ski trails such as Hobo Alley, Switchyard, and Lonesome Whistle You will have fine views of the Vasquez Cirque. And you will be gaining 300 feet of elevation in the process.
Map: Use the
local Winter Park trail map. Paper copies are available
PUMPHOUSE, DEADMAN, AND CORONA LAKES
This entire hike is just above timberline on a defined trail in the middle of miles of high alpine tundra. From the trailhead, Deadman Lake is to the far left, Pumphouse Lake is slightly to the left, and corona Lake is to the far right nestled in a grove of trees.
Park in at a wide spot on the Moffat Road, which was an old Rail Road grade. Follow an old wagon road down the hill. After a short distance, a distinct single-track trail turns to the left. Follow this trail to Pumphouse Lake. A trail leads down to the water and to the remains of an old rail road pump house. This lake provided water for steam engines as they traveled over the pass. The mountain directly behind Pumphouse lake is Mt Epworth; a ski race is held here every 4th of July.
To reach Deadman Lake, turn left [south] and follow the shore of Pumphouse Lake. Continue in the same direction up to the saddle. From the saddle, Deadman lake is visible nearby. To reach Corona Lake, return to Pumphouse lake by the same route. Then follow the old wagon road down to the creek. Cross the creek and continue up the hill. Pass a giant boulder field and arrive at Corona Lake.
Since the entire route is above timberline, be watchful of the weather.
Map: Trails Illustrated, or Page 57 of Hiking Grand
MONARCH LAKE LOOP
Monarch Lake is a picturesque Rocky Mountain Lake, 2/3 mile long and 1/3 mile wide. Sitting at 8340 feet above sea level, it is ringed by pristine forest and numerous reminders of pioneer life. A nice 4 mile hiking trail circumnavigates the lake.
Start by registering at the Forest Service cabin. Take the Southside Trail on the right and follow this trail around the west end of Monarch Lake. The view across the lake with the mountain backdrop is beautiful -- especially in the early morning. Continue around the lake always taking a left turn wherever possible.
Along the way, you will encounter old cabins and a rusting boiler. They were used by the Monarch Lumber company in the late 1800's and early 1900's. You will pass several more small settlements.
Moose have sometimes been spotted in the adjacent willow thickets. Keep your eyes sharp. In late July and early August, thee raspberries should be ripe around the wet and rocky areas near the parking lots. Again, keep your eyes sharp.
Map: Trails Illustrated or Page 147 of Hiking Grand County
Suggested hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park limited list published by the National Park Service.
Rocky Mountain National Park hikes [excellent list by independent website]