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431 Twin Sisters 2011-07-06

Twin Sisters Trail on the east side of the mountain

After several hot days of hiking, I needed an easier day. I chose to hike Twin Sisters. I have hiked the Twin Sisters Trail almost every year that I have visited Rocky Mountain National Park (and that means quite a few times). It is only 3.4 miles to the summit, but it climbs 2,250 feet. The trail is rated as moderate, as a mountain trail.

Starting at seven in the morning, the parking lane near the trailhead was busy with cars lined down the hill. I was about the tenth or so vehicle. Leaving the trailhead, I settled into my hiking mechanics. Soon I found my rhythm and moved steadily along. One hiker zoomed by me early in the hike and then I did not see anyone else until I reached the summit area. Or, at least I did not see another human on the trail.

On the open slopes above the saddle, a small herd of sheep were grazing about fifty feet from the trail. Trying to get their attention for a photo, I talked to the sheep, whistled at them and finally clanged my trekking poles; but the sheep paid no attention to my antics. I put away my camera and started to move away from the sheep. On my first step, the ram looked up while the others continued to graze. He stared at me until he was sure that I wasn't a threat. So I got a good photo after all.


large bighorn sheep


The summit was just a short distance away. Clouds were moving into the area and building nearby. The threatening weather limited my visit to the two summits. There are excellent views of Longs Peak and Mount Meeker, as well as the Estes Valley from the rocky summits.

On the descent, the trail was very crowded with hikers headed toward the twin summits. I was constantly moving off the trail to give the uphill hiker the right of way, if they wanted it. Most folks wanted to know how far it was to the top and some even wanted to know how long it would take them to climb to the top. I think people ask me questions more, when I am walking alone. I really don't mind most of the questions and most of the time the questions are interesting, at least.

My round trip took about 3.5 hours. The hiker who zoomed by on the way up, super zoomed by on the way down!

A few Twin Sisters trail notes ...

There are restrooms at the Lily Lake area, close to the trailhead.

Parking is along an access road that leads to the trailhead.

The hike can be very crowded.

The hike does not require admissions into the Park.

There is supposed to be a spring at the saddle, but I have never seen it. Be sure to bring enough water.

The new start to the trail is a great example of a sustainable trail. It is built to last. Oh, the original trail crossed through private land. The Park Service moved the trail so that it is now on Forest Service's and National Park's lands. The first 1.25 miles is the new section (or newer, the trail is probably ten years old.)

The trail does cross a talus (rocks) slope near the top of the mountain.

I have seen sheep on the mountain quite a few times.

This is a great hike to get you ready for the bigger hikes on the bigger mountains.

Happy Twin Sisters trails


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