Rocky Mountain National Park High Point Trip Report

Longs Peak

Date: July 29, 2002
Author: Scott Casterlin

We had great weather and luck Monday the 29th on this classic and very popular Colorado hike. The standard Keyhole route is well-described in all the guide books, but here are some extra thoughts. Even on a Monday, the large trailhead parking lot had steady arrivals after midnight or so and was full by our 4:45 a.m. start. You can park along the approach road, but make sure you're safely off the pavement and not in a "no parking" zone. We stayed in the nearby first come/first served NPS campground ($18 with bathroom, water, food storage) and it's very nice, but cars arrived throughout the late evening and nearby campers started stirring very early, disrupting sleep. The small ranger station at the trailhead is open about 8-4:30 daily and has nice maps, photos, etc., but a visit isn't required.

On the trail, there are bathrooms at the trailhead, Chasm Lake junction, and at the Boulderfield. There's a small rock house structure at the Keyhole if you get stuck in a storm. The famous red and yellow bulls-eye markers will be your friends all the way from the Keyhole to the bottom of the Homestretch, though some are fading. Decades of use and thousands of hikers are making some of the rock sections worn and slippery. Be careful in these areas, especially if the rock is wet, too. The Trough section is long, steep and currently snow-free. Watch the weather, don't forget to eat and drink, and carry extra batteries for your light (somebody was 'coptered out the day before our trip because of a fall at night on the standard route due to broken flashlight). There's a little bit of water in small streams up to the Boulderfield if you want to use these sources later in the day.