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)
Mt. Alice looms above the twin Lion Lakes.