Mount Ida from Milner Pass

A jaw-dropping alpine ridge run, without too much strain or stress.

Trail Running Difficult

Distance
15 km
Ascent
756 m
Descent
756 m
Duration
2-3 hrs
Low Point
3.3 km
High Point
3.9 km
Gradient
Mount Ida from Milner Pass Map

Mount Ida is a true gem for trail runners in Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s almost all above treeline, on alpine tundra along the Continental Divide. On the run, you’ll gaze over the Colorado River headwaters to the Never Summer Mountain Range. From the top of Ida, you’ll stare at the heart of the national park, across the Divide to Longs Peak.

Description

As far as mountain runs in the Rockies go, Ida is on the easier side. It’s not short on scenery, though, and the summit is rewarding, despite its sub-13er status. The views along this exposed ridgeline are tough to beat anywhere. Also, because of the length and exposure, it requires no less attention to the weather than any high-altitude traverse in Colorado. Mount Ida belongs on every mountain runner’s ticklist, both as a full-value route all its own, and as a step in training for bigger objectives.

The run begins from Milner Pass along Trail Ridge Road. A well-traveled trail breaks above treeline in only a mile, then a surprisingly smooth track traverses the alpine tundra, mostly below and sometimes on a ridgeline. It’s not consistently uphill, but has some flat sections as well.

Eventually, the trail dips down and arrives at a saddle. The summit seen ahead is Mount Ida, but reaching it is not as straightforward as it seems. From the saddle, the run turns into a choose-your-own-adventure of rock hopping up the talus. A boulder field impedes progress along the ridgeline, so you’ll probably want to trend to the right, then curve around toward the summit.

You’ll waste a lot of effort if you don’t choose a route carefully, so pay attention to what’s ahead, in addition to watching your feet. Routefinding on the way down may be even trickier. Try to retrace your steps if you liked your route, or find a better one if you didn’t. Once on the worn trail, it’s a scenic cruise back to the trailhead.

Sources: http://www.rockymountainhikingtrails.com/mount-ida.htm https://www.summitpost.org/mt-ida-timber-lake-loop/158988

Difficulty

Difficult

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.

Remoteness

2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

June, July, August, September, October

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area