Sleep In The Dirt

Section 16:

Grand Lake to Bowen Gulch Trailhead

What We Found

The content below contains general information about Big Agnes staff experience while traveling along the CDT through Colorado in the summer of 2018. While we have made an effort to provide you with a valuable trip-planning tool, we cannot offer any assurance that this information is current, complete or even accurate – if you choose to travel this route, do so at your own risk. This route is an alternate loop of the CDT within Rocky Mountain National Park. To describe it as scenic would be an understatement to it's true beauty, as the views you encounter on this section will leave you breathless.

  • distance
    26 miles
  • elevation gain
    4,752 feet
  • elevation loss
    4,399 feet
  • highest point
    12,257 feet
  • wilderness area
    yes
  • permits required
    yes
  • percent on trail
    100%

"This section was nothing short of amazing. There were tons of places to collect water all along this section, and great opportunities for fishing, so bring your pole and your fishing license. the Rocky Mountain National Park trail maintenance crew does a great job making sure the trails are well-kept. This section not only felt groomed; it was immaculate. Be on the lookout for Moose and Elk, we saw a ton of them on this section and did our best not to disturb them. In short - beautiful views and easy hiking." On Trail: August 3rd, 2018 - August 7th, 2018

Robin Paguia, Sales, Honey Stinger
Learn more about the hike

Our Itinerary

Southern Access Point:

Town of Grand Lake, CO. (Where Trail Leaves West Portal Road). Ley Maps CO 10

Northern Access Point:

Bowen Gulch Trailhead Parking Area (Where Trail Crosses US HW 34, Trail Ridge Road). Ley Maps CO 10a

Wilderness Area:

Yes

What We Experienced:

Lots of on-trail water and plenty of wildlife.

Bring your valid fishing license to take advantage of the great fishing opportunities.

Mellow vertical, with one decent climbing section.

For more information on restrictions and permits within Rocky Mountain National Park, click here.

Additional Resources: 

Leave No Trace Principles

Guthook Guide – Continental Divide Trail

Rocky Mountain National Park Wilderness Camping

Our Route

Ascent:
4,752 feet

Descent:
4,399 feet

Grade per Mile:
352 feet

Pro tips:

Bring good rain gear, as afternoon showers form quickly and unexpectedly.

If you plan on camping within the park, reserve your permits early in the season.

Watch out for Moose, and always be respectful of wildlife you encounter on the trail.

The town of Grand Lake is a great spot to re-supply, or enjoy some post-hike treats.

Skills We Needed

• Map Navigation
• LNT Ethics

* This site and routes described within contain general information about Big Agnes staff adventures in the backcountry, summer 2018. While we have made an effort to provide you with a valuable trip-planning tool, we cannot offer any assurance that this information is current, complete or even accurate – if you choose to travel these routes, do so at your own risk. Prior to setting out check local weather, trail conditions, closures, legal access points, Forest Service, BLM, or National Park rules and regulations, and other risks involved. We hope to inspire responsible backcountry and public land use, but by using our website you agree to use this information at your own risk.