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443 Alpine Visitor Center to Milner Pass - Old Road 2011-07-20

view from Forest Canyon Pass

Saturday, our friends from Tennessee - Jon and Laura, David and Jenny, and our new friend, one year old, Ben - joined us In Rocky Mountain National Park. It was great to see everyone.

For an easy hike to help our friends acclimate to the mountains, we drove Trail Ridge Road to the Alpine Visitor Center (elevation 11,796 feet). We were looking for a few miles of trail at altitude.

The drive was quick and fun - with little traffic. Surprisingly, there was not as much snow as we expected. Arriving at the Visitor Center, I asked a dressed-like-a-ranger person about the condition of the Old Road Trail - a four mile trail. He claimed that the trail was impassable. I asked if I should go inside a building and ask for an official report and he said they wouldn't know any more.

I told my friends that the trail had too much snow but the trail didn't look like it had any snow. We decided to walk for a ways and see how bad the snow really was.


Ben sitting in the pack carrier.


With Ben sitting high over dad's head in a backpack child carrier, we started the hike. The trail crosses open tundra as it gradually descends. We crossed two snow fields but they were hardly anything major. A hiker we met said the snow was not bad at all.

At the beautiful Forest Canyon Pass, we discussed what we would do. They were going to continue without me, while I returned to the Alpine Visitor Center and shuttled the car to Milner Pass, the end destination.

From Milner Pass, Amy and I were going to hike toward the Visitor Center to meet the others descending. There was snow immediately and once we entered the protection of the forest, the snow drifts hid the trail. We slowly ascended following boot prints and bits of exposed trail until finally they all ended. We had let the other group carry our GPS so we were only guessing where the trail was going.

After finding and losing sections of the trail repeatedly, we found the trail where we assumed, it began the traverse to treeline. It was not long until we saw movement down in a small drainage below u;, it was our friends. With the whole group together, we looked for a less snowy descent to return to Milner Pass.

We postholed, slipped, and slid on the return to the trailhead. Ben, the baby, enjoyed it when his father, Dave, would posthole. It was a fun hike and everyone seemed to enjoy the adventure.

A few Old Road trail notes ...

The Alpine Visitor Center has restrooms, water, a snack bar, and even a gift shop.

The twenty-five mile (or so) drive is spectacular.

Milner Pass has privies.

The trail is about 4 miles long.

The trail was fun. We would highly recommend it with or without the snow.

Like the dressed-like-a-ranger person said - the trail was impassable as a trail. As a snow route, it was a fun adventure, postholing and all!

Happy postholing trails


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