The weekend excursion guide


Trek On!
Editor’s Note: Kevin Bartz’s column is a guide to the best outdoor activities for the coming weekend, and runs every Friday.

CSU students are an active bunch, and the mountains are our playground. Countless adventures encircle us in rocky and snowcapped majesty. So, if you are itching to get up to the hills this weekend, as a fellow outdoor junky, I offer some of my personal favorites for you to check out.

This week’s recommendation: Chasm Lake, pools directly at the base of Longs Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park. The trail is a good 4.2 miles, one way, with 2,394 feet of elevation gain, and is loaded with photo opportunities for a new Facebook profile pic.

From the trailhead you’ll trek an easy 2 miles through dense forest to The Alpine Bridge. From there, you’ll step over a little waterfall and find yourself above tree line in no time.

This is where the hike gets tough. From here on out, you are exposed to the sun, the wind or anything else Mother Nature wants to throw at you. But the panorama of the tumultuous Longs Peak before you and the endless valley behind is worth it.

After another 1.5 miles, the trail will fork off for the Keyhole route of Long’s peak. Stick to the left for the home stretch. The next .6 miles are downhill and provide a great view of Peacock Lake below.

The last tenth of a mile is a rock scramble up to the lake. Your legs will burn and your lungs will want to jump out of your chest and hit you in the face. But there is a reason this is one of my favorites.

The crystal-clear lake sits at 11,800 feet and is tucked into a chasm (hence the name.) Therefore, it is a great spot to escape the wind, eat lunch, watch the climbers doing the technical route of Longs and fight off the marmots.

It’s a must-see.

To get there, take Taft Hill Rd, Shields St. or College Ave. down into Loveland. Turn right onto Highway 34 (Eisenhower Blvd.) and drive all the way up to Estes Park. Then turn south on Highway 7. Drive about 9 miles and hang a right on Longs Peak Road.

Once you’re on that road you’ll find the trailhead within a few minutes. However, if there are cars parked on the side of the road, the lot is already full. So snag the first spot you see and hike up to the trail.

No worries about a National Park Pass. This trailhead is free!