(Early light at Chasm Lake with Longs Peak in the background at Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo Credit: NPS/John Wullschleger)
Colorado is famous for its fourteeners, but no fourteener is more famous than Longs Peak. However, hiking Longs Peak may be a classic, but it’s not a good fourteener for first-timers. Although reaching the summit can be done in a day, it will be no easy feat. If you’re up for a challenge, and you’re ready to take on a tough but rewarding hike to the highest peak in The Rocky Mountain National Park, then here’s what you need to know about hiking Longs Peak.
Getting to Longs Peak
Located in the Rocky Mountain National Park, Longs Peak stands 14,259 ft proud. It is the only fourteener in The Rocky Mountain National Park and has long been a favorite to hikers and climbers. During the summer season (mid-July through early September) there are several hikes to the summit. During this period, it is possible to get to the summit without specialized climbing gear. However, if you want to go in the off-season, the famous Keyhole Route is your only option. The Keyhole Route to Longs Peak is considered a “technical climb” due to ice formation and snowfall.
Hiking to Longs Peak in the Summer
Since we’re coming up on summer, let’s focus on what to expect from this classic mountain summit hike. You may not need crampons and an ice ax if you hike the Keyhole during the summer season, but you will need to climb in sections. Expect steep ledges, boulders, vertical climbs, and sheer cliffs.
Hiking the Keyhole Route to the Summit
The hike from the trail to the summit is considered a Class 3 scramble. You’ll travel a distance of 8.4 miles each way, with an elevation of 4,875 feet, with sections of extreme exposure. Don’t underestimate the physical fitness required to complete this hike.
When to Start
If you get going by dawn, you should reach the summit in time to get back below the treeline by the afternoon. The afternoons at Longs Peak tend to bring rainstorms, thunder, and lightning, and getting under cover of trees is going to make the rest of your decent much more pleasant.
What to Bring
The right hiking gear is essential if you’re going to reach the summit of Longs Peak. You will need quality hiking boots, a lightweight backpack, a hydration system, rain gear, sustenance, and comfortable layered clothing. You will also need to be well rested, warmed up, and ready for a serious physical workout.
Rent Gear for Hiking Longs Peak
To rent a hiking package to reach the summit of Longs Peak, stop by our outdoor retail shop in Denver. Be sure to pick it up the day before you begin your hike so you can start bright and early. Outdoors Geek is your one-stop-shop to get you ready for any outdoor adventure.