Summary: The trail is well labeled and easy to find due to the traffic it receives. Longs Peak is the most climbed mountain in Colorado. The signs and trail will lead you easily all the way to the boulder field. Once in the boulder field the trail disappears, however you will be able to see the "keyhole" and all you need to do is head straight toward it. Once through the keyhole the route is obviously marked with red and yellow bull’s-eyes. This route is not for those who fear heights. There are 5 sections remaining. The first section is "The Ledges" careful navigation along these ledges is important. Then a steep ascent up "The Trough" to the crux move known as "The Notch." Once past "The Notch" you will have to pass 'The Narrows." Many people turn back here as this ledge is narrow, exposed, and slick. After that it's another steep scramble up more slick rock in "The Homestretch." The summit appears abruptly though with no false summits.
Trailhead: Head South from Estes Park on Highway 7 for 9.2 miles. Turn right onto Longs Peak Road. This road ends at the Longs Peak Trailhead. If you don't get here early though, you may have to park a long ways away. The park fee is $20 for 3 day access or $35 for an annual pass as of 2005.
Visit www.friesema.net for more photos of fourteeners. (Lat:40.2722 Lon:-105.5565)
Trail Guides for Longs Peak - Keyhole Route:
by Gerry Roach (Fulcrum Publishing)
Dawsons Guide to Colorados Fourteeners Nothern Peaks
by Louis Dawson (Blue Cover Press)
by Bruce Caughey and Doug Whitehead (Fulcrum Publishing)
Best Seasons: Fall, Summer,
User Groups: Hikers,
Ranger Contact: Rocky Mountain National Park 970-586-1206
Localhikes Reporter: This hike was submitted by Joshua Friesema, who has posted 97 other hikes on this site. To visit this reporters web site, click here.
Trail Reviews Submit your own review
Reviewed by Buzz on 9/18/2012
This needs some corrections: 1. This would be considered a very difficult hike by most people. 2. Along the same lines, 12 hours is a more reasonable hike time. No wonder many people start at 2-3AM. 3. There's no fee entrance at the trailhead, so it is free.
Reviewed by William on 9/6/2010
My dad and I climbed this in august and had a blast. it has been a lifelong goal, and was absolutely worth it. The best time to start is around 2-3 am and be off the summit by 1030. To give yourself a slight chance at an altitude sickness free trough, I recommend that you acclimatize, have work with altitude gain and take it slow. Same goes for the homestretch. Being from massachusetts, this was absolutely essential. This mountain is a beast, but my dad and I climbed it at age 50 and 13, so age is generally not a problem if one is in shape. All in all, if you are in great shape, this mountain is a must-climb.
Reviewed by BillB on 8/5/2010
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Reviewed by Matt on 6/12/2010
I've hiked this twice, never made it to the summit. I'm from wisconsin...not a whole lot of mountains here. First time got very bad altitude sickness, but camped at the boulder field anyway (probably not a good idea). Headed down in the morning. Learned that lesson and HYDRATED the next time (following year). This really helps with altitude. Unfortunately, we left way to late and we weren't at the boulder field until after 12. Next time we WILL summit. Drink lots of water, bring some snacks, pack light (unless camping) and leave early! It's gorgeous, well worth the physical work. Oh, went in end of June first time, early August second time.
Reviewed by Tom Seely on 8/5/2008
We just completed the 15 hr journey to the top and back on the 1st of Aug. Started at 1:30am finished at about 5:30pm. We are from Indiana and should have spent more time getting used to the altitude change but made it anyway. This was my 1st mountian climb and I can say it was the hardest thing I ever did! Was it worth 4 months of training...YES the mountian was beautiful and the people we encountered were great.
Reviewed by WLion on 7/5/2008
Haven't attempt this route yet, but planning one next Summer. It appears that weather is a crucial part of the success equation. It will be disaster if the weather change (with rain or worst blizzard condition) after summit.
Reviewed by Brendan on 8/15/2007
When I hiked this mountain, we started at about 10 pm, we hiked all through the night, and reached the top at about 6 pm. Make sure you have a long range flashlight if hiking at night because the red dots are hard to find, it'd be much easier if I knew where I was going. I'm 15 and I found it difficult, but not too bad. A bit more climbing than I expected, not so much of a hike towards the end, more of a climb. And the altitude will for sure slow you down. I do recomend this hike to anybody looking for a magnificent view.
Reviewed by RONSTER on 8/21/2006
As a flatlander from Baltimore, this was the "Mother of All Hikes" for me. My group (5 physically fit and active hiker types) did the entire 15 mile hike as a 2 day backpack trip (with 40-50 lb packs). Day one was the hike to the boulder field and day two was the summit experience. The real challenge for me was not so much the physical challenge (although quite considerable), but rather dealing with the altitude issues (remember, I live practically at sea level in Baltimore). Hence, the trick was to get acclimated at the higher elevations and be well hydrated. The other important thing is get off of summit by 12 noon, or else, you run the risk of getting zapped by lightning. For a flatlander, this was a "nirvana" hiking experience.
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