A Colorado Backcountry Hut-to-Hut Hiking Adventure
One of the great attractions to hiking is its promise of a backcountry, wilderness experience. In no instance is this promise fulfilled more completely than during our multi-day hiking adventure in the heart of Colorado's incomparable high country. By day, we explore portions of the 300-mile 10th Mountain Division Trail System, and at night settle into another scenic chalet.
The huts are remote and idyllic hideaways perched high on mountain ridges with magnificent views. These charming log cabins offer you the unique opportunity to stay in the high country among endless trails, wildflowers, elk and deer. Featuring amenities such as vaulted ceilings, bay windows, wood stoves and solar lighting, you will enjoy evenings of serenity and backcountry comfort. After a day on the trail snuggle up to a good book, or relax on the sun deck and soak in the view.
Day 1. Hike from Fulford Campground via Iron Edge Trail to Peter Estin Hut, Peter Estin Hut
Our group assembles at the Evergreen Lodge in Vail at 9:00 a.m. After a short orientation and a shuttle, we lace up our boots for a day of hiking into the heart of the Rocky Mountains and the rooftop of America!
Today's trailhead begins in the White River National Forest at the Fulford Cave Campground. Exercise your lungs as we head up the Iron Edge trail for a great warm up hike to the majestically situated Peter Estin Hut.
A guide favorite, Peter Estin Hut is perched on a lofty knoll at 11,200 feet. This idyllic setting is the perfect place to relax and marvel at the magnificent views of the Elk Range's jagged peaks.
Iron Edge Trail to Peter Estin Hut [4.5 miles, 1700' elevation gain]
Day 2. Hike from Peter Estin Hut via the Charles Peak Trail, Peter Estin Hut
Hiking directly from Peter Estin Hut, our backcountry adventure continues when we climb a high elevation ridgeline at 12,000 feet just below Charles Peak. Our picnic lunch spot is unforgettable as we gaze from alpine tundra out onto a sea of snowy peaks and a tranquil mountain lake. We then meander down tree-covered ridges to pristine Lake Charles. After lunch we can venture on to Mystic Island Lake or explore Lake Charles, then we head down to Fulford Campground for our shuttle back to Peter Estin hut and another relaxing panorama-filled sunset.
Peter Estin Hut - Lake Charles to Fulford Campground [9 miles; approximately 700 feet of elevation gain, 2000 feet of elevation loss]
Option: Lake Charles to Mystic Island Lake [4 miles; 265 feet elevation gain, then loss]
Day 3. Hike Henderson Park, Skinner Hut
As you wake up and breathe deeply the fresh mountain air, get ready for another day of the unique mountain beauty only Colorado can provide. Today we venture deep into the Holy Cross Wilderness and explore secluded meadows and flower-filled aspen woodlands on our way to magnificent Henderson Park, a gorgeous example of a pristine Rocky Mountain alpine meadow filled with flowers and a magnet for wildlife. One can not help but wonder how the first pioneers must have felt when they first saw these beautiful mountains and lakes.
This afternoon, we find ourselves at our next tranquil hideaway -- Skinner Hut, probably the most precipitous site of any hut in Colorado. Blending well with the high, alpine landscape, this handsome stone building appears to have been carved from the underlying crags.
Last Chance Trail to Tellurium Lake trailhead [7.5 miles, 1200' elevation gain/1400' loss]
" Shuttle to trailhead and to hut [2.5 hours over rough four wheel drive roads]
Day 4. Free Day, Skinner Hut
Today is all yours as we layover for a day to soak in the peace of the high mountains. The options are limitless. Relax at the hut, or lace up the hiking boots and head down the old railway grade of the Midland Railroad of the 1890s as we descend toward Turquoise Lake. En route, we hike to the long since abandoned Hagerman Tunnel and explore the ghost town of Douglas City, once a wild settlement with eight saloons and dance halls.
Another option is to hike or shuttle to the lakeshore trail that winds along the edge of Turquoise Lake, whose waters often mirror Colorado's two highest peaks, Mount Massive and Mount Elbert.
As yet another option, consider venturing up to Hagerman Pass and the Continental Divide. Those that opt for this hike will be rewarded with 360° views of the sea of peaks that stretch from the open summit back to Leadville and the Arkansas Valley to Ivanhoe Lake and the Upper Fryingpan Valley.
Whatever you choose for the day, be sure to leave yourself some time to simply relax at the hut.
Skinner Hut to Douglas City [6 miles; 1500' elevation gain/loss]
Option: Turquoise Lake Hike [4-8 miles; elevation gain negligible]
Day 5. Hike the Colorado Trail to Timberline Lake and Uncle Bud's Hut, Uncle Bud's Hut
Today we lace up our boots for a day of hiking along a portion of the 490-mile long Colorado Trail, which stretches from Denver to Durango in the southwest corner of the state. Our first destination is the shores of sun splashed Timberline Lake, set at the base of the Continental Divide. Permanent snowfields cling to the high, unnamed peaks surrounding this beautiful alpine lake.
After lunch, we climb through cool pine forests over a high mountain saddle before descending through a verdant valley peppered with colorful wildflowers Bear Lakes to an open meadow and Uncle Bud's Hut.
Tonight's home-away-from-home, Uncle Bud's Hut, is situated above 11,000 feet and picturesquely set near tree line in an huge alpine meadow. Enjoy a stroll, relax on the sun deck and marvel at the magnificent view of Mt. Massive or cap off the day with a game of frisbee.
Dinner this evening is truly a well-deserved feast. Under clear mountain skies, we relax on the deck and enjoy the peace of the Rocky Mountain backcountry.
Hike Timberline Lake [5 miles; 815 feet of elevation gain, then loss]
Turquoise Lake to Uncle Bud's Hut via Bear Lake Trail [4 miles, approximately 1280' of elevation gain/ 500' loss]
Day 6. Hike Tennessee Pass from Uncle Bud's Hut via the Colorado Trail
Beginning right at the front door of Uncle Bud's Hut, we venture once again into the heart of the Holy Cross Wilderness and along the renowned Colorado Trail. With breathtaking ridge-line passes, beaver-pond meadows, craggy peaks and a trail's end that straddles the Continental Divide at Tennessee Pass, today is truly a fitting finale to a wonderful week.
At trail's end we shuttle to Vail for our trip's conclusion.
Uncle Bud's Hut to Tennessee Pass via the Colorado Trail [8 miles; approximately 400' elevation gain/1300' loss]
|Backcountry Hut-to-Hut Hiking Adventure
* Best suited for ages 8 and older. Ages 8-18 receive a 15% discount. Solo Traveler trips minimum age is 21.
All trips require a minimum of 4 people for the trip to run and the trip maximum is 12.
Sleeping Bag Rental: $25
Trip Fees Include:
All meals (lunch Day 1-lunch Day 6), all accommodations, T-shirt, water bottle, support vehicle, and professional guides.
Trip Fees Exclude:
Airfare, personal insurance, sleeping bag, hotel miscellaneous expenses (phone, fax, laundry, etc.), additional optional tours, services not specified in the tour itinerary, and guide gratuities (An appropriate gratuity to each trip leader is $75-$100 per guest).
To register for a trip, please click on the trip date.
*Kids need to be (8-18) years of age for the kid discount.
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Special Requests + What to Bring:
If you have any special dietary needs or any special request that will make your trip more enjoyable, please be sure to notify your Trip Consultant or travel agent after booking. One of our trip consultants will be contacting you to go over options and the details with you.
The World Outdoors will provide you with extensive pre-departure information, including your reservation payment receipt and confirmation, travel insurance application, suggestions for preparing for your trip, a packing list, information on pre- and post-trip arrangements, a guest questionnaire and a liability release agreement.
General Information, Questions & Answers
What type of weather should I expect?
Summer is prime time in the mountains. You can expect low humidity with highs in the 70's and lows in the 40's. However, as in other mountainous regions, weather in the Rockies is very changeable - sunny skies can turn stormy in minutes, afternoon thunderstorms are common and snow, while rare in the summer, is possible anytime of the year.
How difficult is this trip? ... Really? This trip is hillier and more challenging than our Easy tours. It is intended for the average active adult who feels comfortable being active 4-6 hours a day. The hikes are 2-9 miles/day with climbs from 8,000 feet up to 12,000 feet.
How nice are the huts?
Although the huts are luxurious backcountry accommodations, they are still relatively rustic. They are equipped with pumped water in the kitchen, an attached outhouse, photovoltaic lighting, a social area centered around a wood stove, an expansive sun deck, and your guides will make solar showers available for bathing. Please note that you will need to bring [or rent from us] a sleeping bag and a pillow case [comfortable mattresses make up the huts' 'single' level beds]. There are several sleeping rooms - the size of the group determines how many people will share each room. For more specific information about the huts, visit their web site at www.huts.org.
If you're traveling on your own and want to share the experience with other solo travelers, we've set aside special departures for many of our trips. Itineraries are identical to our those of our open trips but, because these departures are composed entirely of independent travelers, there's a unique, fun dimension to the group dynamic. Of course, solo travelers are more than welcome on all of our open departures as well, where often half of our guests are traveling alone.
Meeting Place & Time
9:00 a.m., in front of the Evergreen Lodge, 250 South Frontage Road West, Vail, 800-284-8245 / 970-476-7810 (www. evergreenvail.com). From Denver, take exit 1-76 on I-70, follow the round-about under the highway. Follow Interstate 70 West to Vail exit #176. Stay in the right (outside) lane; enter the "roundabout" to go under Interstate 70 overpass. After passing under the overpass, you will take a right heading west on South Frontage Road. The lodge is a seven story cream colored building with green trim. It is approximately ¼ of a mile down on the left hand side of the road. We recommend you have a breakfast prior to our meeting and arrive prepared to hike immediately following our orientation.
Please see our directions and driving times in the upper right hand corner to get additional directions.
Gateway City Transfer:
Public transportation from Denver International Airport to Vail is available for approx. $65 one way through Colorado Mountain Express. Call Colorado Mountain Express at 800-525-6363 / 970-926-9800 or log onto www.cmex.com for more information. Rates are subject to change and advance reservations are recommended. Advance reservations are also recommended. Vail is 98 miles and approximately 2 hours from downtown Denver. The shuttle from Denver International Airport to Vail takes approximately 2-1/2 to 3 hours.
5:30 p.m., Evergreen Lodge, Vail, CO. Airline departures should be scheduled no earlier than 9:30 p.m. from Denver.
How do I book airfare for this trip?
Once you have booked your reservation, Sherry will contact you to help arrange your air. You can also call James TravelPoints, a local travel agency, at 800-538-7461 and ask for Georgia (ext 251) or Di (ext 252) or email GeorgiaT@travelpoints.com or DianeJ@travelpoints.com. Be sure to tell her you are traveling with The World Outdoors. Alternatively, you are welcome to book your airfare online, directly with the airline or through your personal travel agent.
The Best Value in Active Travel Guarantee:
We commit to you that all of our trips are of the highest quality at the best value. If you find a trip of equal quality that matches our itinerary and inclusions at a lower fare within 30 days of booking your trip with us, we will gladly refund the difference. A simple guarantee that assures you of the best trip at the best fare!
If you cancel your trip, you must notify us in writing. We calculate your refund from the day we receive written notice of your cancellation. There is no refund for arriving late or leaving early from a trip.
Number of Days Prior to Trip Departure
|90 days or more
||$100 per person
|89 to 60 days
||50% of total price per person
|59 to 30 days
||75% of total price per person
|29 to 0 days
||100% of total price per person
We highly recommend trip insurance. This is an option we will discuss with you.