|My Time||4 hr 7 min|
A great hike through the forest with amazing views of Longs Peak and the Twin Sister Peaks waiting for you above treeline at the end.
If you start the hike in the parking lot like I did you will have to start by walking up the dirt road towards the trailhead. There is some available parking on the road a little closer to the trail but it seemed to fill up pretty early in the morning.
Once you have gone up the road and found the trailhead on the left you will enter the woods that you will stay in for about 3/4 of the hike. The first section is about a mile and half of switchbacks with a steady incline averaging around a 15% grade with a couple spots jumping up in the mid twenty percent.
As you walk and look through the trees to the west on the switchbacks you get some really nice views of Long’s Peak and the surrounding mountains.
At around the 1.5 mile point you will come to an rather large swath of land that has been cleared by a recent mud slide. It looks a touch apocalyptic as you come to the area that is completely void of trees and is just a rocky dirt field.
Walking across the slide isn’t too much of a challenge but as soon as you clear it the trail will get really steep. For the next half mile past the slide you will gain 500 of feet of elevation in a series of really tight switchbacks that are routinely in the mid 20% grade and even peak around 50%. The switchbacks are also really rocky almost like walking up an uneven flight of stairs.
Luckily after the half mile the trail does flatten out a bit and is much more like the first section with grades back in the teens. This forested area will stretch for about another mile and half with some sections of switchbacks.
The last half mile of the hike is above the trees in a rock field. Unlike a lot of boulder fields this one actually has a pretty well defined path to get through it. There aren’t any really tall rocks to step onto until you get to the Sisters. The views from this section are nice but you will be exposed to both the wind and the sun for the rest of the hike.
At the top you will see a communication tower. The tower is closest to the West Sister. The West Sister is also the easier of the two to climb to the top of. The views from this Sister are absolutely stunning and give a clear view of Longs Peak.
The East Sister is a bit of a more challenging climb to get up. I did not go up to the top of that one because I saw 4 people do it and they all had to scramble on their hands and my injury prevents me from doing that.
I am not sure what the views looked like over there but I feel they would be better from the west with the mountain range in full view.
Distance and Elevation
If you don’t have the AllTrails app you might want to check it out, I really love mine. It records your progress and is a great way to search for hikes that are nearby and gives you difficulty measurements. According to AllTrails today’s hike was around 7.85 miles and had a total elevation gain of about 2474 feet including undulations. That put my high point at around 11,413 feet. I was also moving for a total of 4 hours and 7 minutes.
There were some really steep portions of this hike that really upped the effort level. I took a little too much time at the top so my Fitbit broke it down in 2 for the daily step count.
The first 3/4 of the hike are in a forest with a dirt trail with several large rocks in the ground. Not a ton of loose rock for this first part though. The rocks become more frequent the further up the hill that you get. The last 1/4 of the trail is completely walking on rocks and above treeline with no shade from the sun or wind. I would strongly suggest good hiking shoes and some poles to help with the inclines.
The Twin Sisters trail that I took is on the outskirts of Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes Park. The parking area is located just off of CO-7 across the street from Lily Lake. There are signs that say that you need a RMNP pass to use the parking areas. There is are restrooms (pit toilets) across the street at the Lily Lake parking area. Be careful crossing the street as cars were flying down CO-7.
I really enjoyed this hike. It was the perfect combination of forest and rocky mountain. The difficulty was definitely there especially around the Slide but long sections that were a little flatter made it bearable for me. The top was also easier than most that I have been on although I didn’t try to do the East Sister which did look more challenging.
On a personal note this is the hike that I completed my first 52 Hike Challenge. (disclaimer: I have an affiliate partnership with 52 Hike Challenge that can lead to compensation) That made it more special to me and the challenge has helped inspire me through this journey. I was also joined by my friend Scott. For the regular readers of the blog you know that Scott has been my hiking mentor through the journey and I appreciate him being able to make it with me.
I have added this hike and all of my hikes on my interactive map section you can find here. If you have any suggestions or comments feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follow me on any of the below social media platforms. Happy Hiking!