Common Questions

In this section, I answer some questions you might have about this hiking guide. If you have a question that you do not see answered in this section, please send it to us via the Contact Page.

Why isn't my favorite hike included in the book?

This book was written at the request of the Rocky Mountain Conservancy, in part to help stem the growing damage to Rocky Mountain National Park. Visitation to RMNP has increased considerably over the past few years from about 3 million in 2010 to over 4.5 million in 2018. The negative impact of this increase has been significant. This is especially true in some of the more delicate areas above tree line. I therefore agreed to only include officially maintained trails as these are better able to handle significant traffic. During the process I was surprised to learn that some of the trails that I thought were official actually weren't. Some of these unofficial trails are becoming seriously eroded, and many of them lead hikers onto delicate tundra which is being trampled and destroyed. Sending additional people to these areas would not help the long-term well-being of Rocky.

Furthermore, I was specifically asked not to include certain hikes. There was good reasoning for each of these. Each of these locations had very specific reasoning, issues which I was not aware of. For example, one location not only has extremely limited parking but also has issues with neighbors who were upset over the ever increasing noise, dust and traffic in their neighborhood. It was determined that this trailhead was not one that could handle additional visitation. There are also other trails that lead up to very delicate terrain that would be badly damaged by an increase in visitation. My not including these places does not mean you cannot visit them. What it does mean is that these areas require additional care and respect. You can help by walking lightly in these areas and not publicizing them, so that we can limit the damage and keep this park pristine for generations to come.

Finally, there were quite a number of trails in Rocky Mountain National Park which I didn't include because they don't offer much in terms of views. I've hiked every trail in this park, most of them many many times and I had to make judgement calls as to which trails would be most enjoyed by the public. This hiking guide is already 512 pages long and if I was to properly cover every trail in RMNP it would quickly grow to over 800 pages long. For the vast majority of people, this guide covers nearly every trail they would want to have on their hiking list.

On the wayto Mirror Lake, before the 2020 fires.

This book is so big and heavy, how am I supposed to hike with it?

There are several different ways to address this. Firstly, you can download the Kindle version. You can then have all the information on your phone or tablet without any weight at all.

Another alternative, which I often use with guidebooks, is to photograph the hiking pages you need with your phone. That way you can easily take them with you again with no weight.

A third option that some people use is to bring your book to a local bindery, Kinkos, Staples, Office Depot or print company and have them chop off the spine and drill holes in it so that it fits in a three ring binder. That way you can take just the pages you need on a hike.

Finally, you might consider purchasing the smaller edition of this guide which contains just 20 hikes. This Pocket Guide is designed to be light and easy to take with you, but obviously it only has a fraction of the information which the primary book contains.

Tonahutu Trail heading towards Haynach Lakes

Am I allowed to hike off trail in Rock Mountain National Park?

The short answer is that yes, you are allowed to hike off trail in most areas, but please keep reading. Along Trail Ridge Road there are numerous pull-offs and trails, here you are not allowed to walk off trail due to the delicacy of the tundra and the large number of people passing through. In other parts of the park you are allowed to leave the trail, but it is certainly not something you are encouraged to do, as the impact of many feet can quickly kill vegetation and lead to the creation of new social trails. If you do leave the trail, please walk with care. Try to walk on hard surfaces such as on rocks, sand, gravel, fallen trees, etc. so as to protect the fragile vegetation. In the tundra this is even more important. Try to walk on rocks rather than on the tundra itself as only a few footsteps can kill the vegetation and it can take many decades for it to recover. Never walk alongside a trail as it will cause a social trail and will eventually cause the existing trail to spread. Walk in the center of the trail as much as you can.

Summer morning at The Loch

Did you actually hike all the trails in this book?

Yes. I had actually hiked all of them before, most of them many many times. When I was commissioned by the Rocky Mountain Conservancy to write this book I decided that instead of going by memory, I would go back and re-hike each of these trails. Some of them I did a couple of times as I forgot to check on something or didn't get the photo I wanted. If you hiked each of the trails in this book individually that would be 538 miles. Since you generally return the way you came and a number of trails overlap, there are just 174 unique miles of trail covered in this book. So, I began hiking the trails in late August of 2017 and hiked through early October when the snows began. I then resumed in May of 2018 and finished in early August. So, I guess it was about 6 months where I did a fair amount of hiking. I hiked with a voice recorder to make verbal notes along the way which I then typed up when I returned to my office.

Sunrise at Lily Lake

I feel ripped off because there are all these changes since I bought my book.

I can understand that you feel like your book is out of date, but what you are getting is the most up-to-date information possible. Anytime you buy a guidebook whether for traveling Europe or for visiting Disneyland, it is already out of date by the time it is released. The reason for this is that everything in our world is constantly changing. The difference is that most guide books do not issue updates to let you know what has changed since its release. In that way, ignorance is bliss. I felt that by giving you the most current information here on this website (corrections) that you could then go in and make notes in your book to ensure that it is as up-to-date as possible. This is a service that very few guide books offer and which I had hope will be a benefit to you.

What other questions do you have? Send us a message.