Little Yellowstone Trail

Difficulty
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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.
5-7h
Distance
This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
19.3 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.
559 m
User Ratings
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Directions to Trailhead

The Little Yellowstone Trail is a scenic riverside adventure along the west edge of the Rocky Mountain National Park. Hike the meadow laden path near the riverbanks of the Colorado River, past a historic site and ascend Little Yellowstone Mountain. This is a great option for those seeking something other than a technical alpine summit hike.

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Route Description for Little Yellowstone Trail

The Little Yellowstone Trail is a lengthy but scenic secluded hike in the Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP). Hike through luxuriant meadows, through Coyote Valley alongside the Colorado River and to the Lulu City Historic Site. Explore the remnants of the historic mining town before continuing to summit Little Yellowstone. From atop the mountain, you will be rewarded with expansive views of the No Summer Mountain Range. Note this hike is almost entirely exposed to the elements, so prepare accordingly. Located within the boundaries of the RMNP, visitors are required to purchase a park pass.

Begin your adventure along the Little Yellowstone Trail from the Colorado River Trailhead. From here, track north on the Colorado River Trail. This path will guide you through the meadowed Coyote Valley and near the banks of the Colorado River. Hike this path as it intersects multiple times with draining creeks. Also, keep an eye out for elk, moose, and bears, as they are commonly spotted grazing the grass plains along the river. Eventually you will pass the Lulu City Site and Cemetery. Explore the remains of log cabins that used to house the miners.

When you are done exploring, hook back onto the Colorado River Trail and you will meet a junction. From here, veer right and you will be diverted onto the La Poudre Pass Trail. Hike this path through towering pines and up the steep terrain to Little Yellowstone’s summit. You will know if you have passed the summit if you intersect with the Grand Ditch Creek. From the peak, revel in the expansive vistas of the Colorado wilderness and the Never Summer Mountains in the west. Enjoy the panoramic views, and when you are ready, retrace your steps along the path back to the trailhead.

Getting to the Little Yellowstone Trail Trailhead

The Little Yellowstone Hike departs from the Colorado River Trailhead off Trail Ridge Road.

Route Information

  • Backcountry Campground

    Ditch Camp Backcountry Site

  • When to do

    Year-round

  • Pets allowed

    No

  • Family friendly

    Older Children only

  • Route Signage

    Average

  • Crowd Levels

    Low

  • Route Type

    Out and back

Little Yellowstone Trail Elevation Graph

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