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“Excellent Hike” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Flat Top Mountain Trail

Flat Top Mountain Trail
Rocky Mountain National Park, CO
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Hebron, Kentucky
Top Contributor
65 reviews 65 reviews
26 attraction reviews
Reviews in 42 cities Reviews in 42 cities
72 helpful votes 72 helpful votes
“Excellent Hike”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 15, 2013

I enjoy moderately challenging mountain hikes and Flat Top Mountain fit the bill perfectly. We did it on the 4th day of our visit to Rocky Mountain National Park and therefore had some time to acclimate to the high altitudes. Took us about 4.5 hours to reach the top, with stops along the way to view and photograph the many vistas. Saw some elk along the way as well. The trail is not a paved one and is rocky and rough. Unfortunately, due to an approaching thunderstorm, we decided not to make it up to the top of Hallett Peak. The storm hit during our decent with some severe lightning as well as pellet sized hail. We were relived to when we reached the tree line for some shelter.

The vistas are spectacular. While this was a moderately strenuous hike on a rough trail, I'd do it again. Except the next time, I'd start earlier in the day and make it all the way to Hallett Peak. We started the hike from the Bear Lake trail head at about 7:00 AM.

Visited October 2012
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English first
New Richmond, Wisconsin
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
4 attraction reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
“Great way to spend a morning”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 1, 2013

If you want a summit hike with great views and great "pit stops" along the way this is for you. I was a little hesitant that it would be too hard for my husband and I. We are in our late 20's/early 30's and pretty active. We started his hike at 7 am and reached the summit around 10:35. Once at the top we took a few pictures by the glacier. We thought about hiking up to Hallett Peak but that would take another hour and with storm clouds brewing we decided to be safe and head down. Overall it took us about 5 hours. The views at the top are great, but similar to what you see on Trail Ridge Road. What we loved were the lakes on the way and all the wild life. (pika and marmots)

Visited August 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Denver, Colorado
Top Contributor
139 reviews 139 reviews
60 attraction reviews
Reviews in 53 cities Reviews in 53 cities
137 helpful votes 137 helpful votes
“The top is the only flat part of this hike!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 29, 2013

This beautiful trail climbs nearly 3,000 feet to over 12,300 feet over the course of 4.4 miles. The scenery changes throughout the hike - with just enough views while you're in the trees to keep things interesting, with views of Dream Lake and Emerald Lake. Across the valley you'll also have a nice view of Mill Lake at the beginning of Glacier Gorge (the valley topped by Long's Peak).

Start early! For a few reasons - 1) You'll get to see Bear Lake (and the magnificent reflections) when the water is like a mirror (the wind is typically minimal early morning), 2) You'll have plenty of time to summit before the weather moves in (e.g. thunderstorms or clouds enveloping the mountain), 3) There will be fewer people, so you can focus on the wilderness.

And you will want to head back before noon (possibly 1 pm) - the second half of the climb is above tree line . . . and keeps going . . . and going . . . and going - pretty easy to get caught in afternoon storms. Soon after leaving the trees, look to your left and you'll see why these are called the Rocky Mountains - as large rocks have "calved" from the mountain above. About a quarter mile later you'll pass through an area populated by pikas - small rodents that sit on rocks and "squeak" a warning that danger (i.e. you) is in the area. Also keep an eye out for marmots (larger rodents - averaging 18"). These rodents are cute on the mountain . . . not sure how I would react if I saw one in my house or at a restaurant.

Eventually you "turn the corner" and can see Flat Top mountain. It looks so close! But you climb and climb and it really doesn't seem to get any closer . . . until you're pretty much right there.

Once at the top (especially if you're not continuing on to Hallet Peak) wander to the south - you will have a view down the valley and might even be able to see your car. Looking to the west you can see Grand Lake.

There is no water available on the trail, and no bathrooms (other than at the trailhead). It is relatively steep and ends at high elevation - plan accordingly. The trail is rocky and uneven (not a smooth dirt path). I wish I had worn my full hiking boots (that wrap my ankles), but I was glad I had hiking poles to ease the descent.

Visited August 2013
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Houston, Texas
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
“Challenging hike, but spectacular scenery”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 25, 2013

Challenging hike, but definitely worth it. Views from the summit and top of the continental divide are spectacular. Fortunately, the morning was clear before the afternoon storms rolled in. You can see all the way to Grand Lake which is on the far west side of RMNP. Definitely recommend you leave early to avoid the afternoon thunderstorms as the round trip time is 6-7 hours. We also summited nearby Hallet's Peak which was equally impressive. Hallet's Peak is 300 feet higher than Flattop Mountain, but don't underestimate the small difference. The extra 300 feet was very challenging, but well worth it. It was basically a boulder scramble up a steep slope that left you breathless. It was windy on the summit, but the views were awesome. We are from Houston so I was concerned about the high altitude, but we did fine as this was our 3rd day in the park. Definitely recommend you acclimate 1-2 days before attempting this hike.

Visited July 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hoboken, New Jersey
Senior Contributor
30 reviews 30 reviews
16 attraction reviews
Reviews in 21 cities Reviews in 21 cities
35 helpful votes 35 helpful votes
“Indescribable”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 24, 2013

The Flattop mountain hike is perfect for day-hikers who can handle moderate to strenuous hikes of medium distance, and wish to get a taste of higher altitude hiking, though they may not quite be up to Longs Peak like hikes in RMNP (yours truly is a good example of one such hiker!).

An effort of approx. 3000ft over 4.4 miles yields incredible scenic payoff in terms of standing atop the Continental Divide at 12,324 ft with a panoramic 360 degree view including Tyndall Glacier, Hallett Peak, distant Grand Lake, Longs Peak and other surrounding mountains. The last 1400 ft or so of the ascent is above tree line and so scenic views are a constant on the hike. Wildflowers were also abundant. Some wildlife sightings are possible (I saw marmots above the tree line, and very early into the hike, some large animal through the trees that was likely a moose).

Standing on the flat boulder field that constitutes the Flattop 'summit', with an expansive view on all sides, I felt as though I stood on top of the world (in a very narrow local maxima sense of course, given that Hallett Peak rises above it to one side!). It was quite a thrilling experience.

If one arrives early enough, it would be worth ascending another 400 ft. to the summit of Hallett peak. I had to skip it since I got to the summit around noon (and further tarried taking photographs). Indeed, barely had I started back, a thunderstorm struck, and though in retrospect it was quite an adventure to be caught in a thunderstorm atop the Continental Divide, at that time it was quite scary.

Thus, prospective hikers are advised (as with any other hike in Colorado) to time one's hike so that one is back below the tree line before noon.

Hike track and some additional selected photos from my Flattop hike on July 5, 2013 are available here:
http://vartika-hiking.blogspot.com/2013/07/flattop-mountain.html

Visited July 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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