Bag a lonely peak in Rocky Moun­tain Na­tional Park; sa­vor fall color on a quiet overnight in Ten­nessee; and check off one of Ohio’s best back­pack­ing trails.


The trail fades into the grass at the north­ern edge of Up­per Lion Lake. Ahead, be­yond the great slop­ing apron of tun­dra, beams the wide and craggy face of Mt. Alice. The gran­ite mono­lith soars into the sky, block­ing a sym­met­ri­cal sec­tion of the hori­zon. Im­pos­ing is an un­der­state­ment. It’s the cen­ter­piece of our 17.6-mile overnight and looks the part. My hik­ing part­ner and I climb a ridge to its shoul­der as the moun­tain seems to grow be­fore us. From the sad­dle, the route is less a path than a se­ries of ter­races with class 3 moves be­tween. Hours later, we top out on the craggy peak. To the east, the iconic 14,259-foot sum­mit block of Longs Peak hangs in the sky. It’s strik­ing— but we choose to climb in soli­tude. Turn-by-turn From the Wild Basin trail­head 1 Set out west on the Wild

Basin Trail, par­al­lel­ing the North St. Vrain Creek up­stream, to a Y-junc­tion near mile 1.5. 2 Veer onto the Thun­der

Lake Trail (hiker’s right) and con­tinue as­cend­ing the val­ley to a junc­tion at mile 4.1. Set up a base­camp here, at the start and fin­ish of the loop por­tion of the lol­lipop.

3 With only the es­sen­tials, bag 13,310-foot Mt. Alice on a chal­leng­ing, 9.4-mile day trip: Start early and split im­me­di­ately right onto the

Lion Lake Trail. (Do­ing the cir­cuit coun­ter­clock­wise puts the most dif­fi­cult scram­bling on the up­hill.) Take the path to its ter­mi­nus at its name­sake, near mile 6.7.

4 Head off-trail, al­ter­nat­ing be­tween faint user paths and tun­dra benches, to gain the ridge be­tween Chiefs Head Peak and Mt. Alice near 12,470 feet of el­e­va­tion (roughly 40.248221, -105.660103).

5 Fol­low the ridge south,

ma­neu­ver­ing across mostly class 3 rock (with a few par­tic­u­larly airy moves) to the sum­mit at mile 8.9.

6 Head south off Alice, tip­toe­ing down steep tun­dra and glis­sad­ing down 45-de­gree Boul­der-Grand Pass to the Thun­der Lake Trail.

7 Fol­low the sin­gle­track 3.3 miles east and south past Lake of Many Winds and Thun­der Lake to the orig­i­nal junc­tion from step 3.

8 Veer back into camp to gather your stuff (if leav­ing) and fol­low your orig­i­nal route to the trail­head. Camp­site North St. Vrain (mile 4.1) Sev­eral camp­sites line the route, but none is more con­ve­nient than North St. Vrain (#49) at the junc­tion of the loop. There are two spots (reser­va­tion re­quired). Bonus: The woods are filled with truck-size boul­ders for scram­bling prac­tice. Wa­ter­falls It adds traf­fic, but this .5-mile de­tour passes a se­ries of gen­tle wa­ter­falls, adding scenery to an oth­er­wise pedes­trian sec­tion of trail. At mile 1.5 (step 2 on this itin­er­ary), stay on the Wild Basin Trail, which twists past a num­ber of cas­cades off Ouzel Creek, in­clud­ing a 40-footer. The Wild Basin Trail then in­ter­sects the Thun­der Lake Trail again near mile 2.8 of this route.

Glis­sade The snow­field on the south side of Mt. Alice (Boul­derGrand Pass) of­fers hik­ers two op­tions: Pur­pose­fully butt-slide down, or end up that way by cir­cum­stance and grav­ity. Brush up on your glis­sad­ing at back­packer .com/glis­sade, then let it rip. DO IT TRAIL­HEAD 40.207940, -105.566536; 5 miles west of Al­lenspark off CO 115 SEA­SON July through Oc­to­ber; the as­pens turn in late Septem­ber. PER­MIT Re­quired ($26)

CUS­TOM MAP bit.do/ BPmapMtAlice ($15)

CON­TACT nps.gov/romo

Mt. Alice looms above the twin Lion Lakes.

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