James Peak Loop Trail

Difficulty
This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
Moderate
Duration
This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
4-6h
Distance
This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
11.7 km
Elevation
This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
751 m
User Ratings
These ratings are completed by users who have completed this trail and not subject to reviews by 10Adventures.
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Directions to Trailhead

The James Peak Loop Trail will reveal the diversity of the Colorado Wilderness. Travel through well-maintained forestland trails to unmarked technical terrain. This adventure, though incredibly scenic, warrants an intrepid adventurer who doesn’t shy away from a challenge.

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Route Description for James Peak Loop Trail

Load the trail GPS and lace up your hiking shoes because we are adventuring the James Peak Loop Trail. This exciting excursion is undeniably panoramic, hike through towering pines, past crystalline blue-hued lakes, through the alpine tundra and to a summit that rewards dumbfounding views of the Front Range and Indian Peaks Wilderness. This expedition is not for the faint of heart! We recommend microspikes and trekking poles to help navigate the rocky and often snow-draped terrain. This trail also ascends high altitudes, so ensure you are acclimated and bring plenty of water. Additionally, you will be traveling along exposed routes, so ensure to head out early and check the forecast to avoid getting caught in an afternoon storm!

Begin your adventure from the informal trailhead at the end of the Kingston Peak Road. Take the Ute Trail north, passing both James Peak Lake and Little Echo Lake. Hike this path up a rocky ridge, and at the junction, veer left. Continue trekking along the exposed, windy ridge and notice Haystack Mountain in the north. At the next intersection, turn left, and you will be diverted onto the James Peak South Trail. Ascend several tightly wound switchbacks up to the summit of James Peak. Revel in the expansive views from atop the Colorado 13er. Enjoy the sights of the alpine lakes and mountain cirque below before beginning your descent.

Track down the south ridge of the mountain and mind your footing on the loose rocky scree. Descend the switchbacks and at the next junction, stay left on the James Peak Trail. Travel east along the exposed mountain saddle, admiring the craggy snow-capped peaks that encompass you. Soon the James Peak Trail will merge into the Kingston Peak Road. Hike along this route until it delivers you back to the trailhead.

Getting to the James Peak Loop Trail Trailhead

Begin your adventure around the James Peak Loop Trail from the end of Kingston Peak Road.

Route Information

  • Backcountry Campground

    Dispersed Backcountry Camping, restrictions apply.

  • When to do

    Year-round

  • Pets allowed

    Yes - On Leash

  • Family friendly

    Older Children only

  • Route Signage

    Poor

  • Crowd Levels

    High

  • Route Type

    Circuit

James Peak Loop Trail Elevation Graph

Weather Forecast

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