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Pfiffner Traverse

Hiking trail · Colorado
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Debbie Sanders 
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    Photo: Debbie Sanders, Community
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    Photo: Debbie Sanders, Community
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    Photo: Debbie Sanders, Community
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    Photo: Debbie Sanders, Community
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    Photo: Debbie Sanders, Community
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    Photo: Debbie Sanders, Community
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    Photo: Debbie Sanders, Community
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    Photo: Debbie Sanders, Community
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    Photo: Debbie Sanders, Community
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    Photo: Debbie Sanders, Community
  • /
    Photo: Debbie Sanders, Community
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    Photo: Debbie Sanders, Community
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    Photo: Debbie Sanders, Community
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    Photo: Debbie Sanders, Community
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    Photo: Debbie Sanders, Community
  • /
    Photo: Debbie Sanders, Community
  • /
    Photo: Debbie Sanders, Community
  • /
    Photo: Debbie Sanders, Community
  • /
    Photo: Debbie Sanders, Community
  • /
    Photo: Debbie Sanders, Community
  • /
    Photo: Debbie Sanders, Community
  • /
    Photo: Debbie Sanders, Community
  • /
    Photo: Debbie Sanders, Community
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    Photo: Debbie Sanders, Community
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    Photo: Debbie Sanders, Community
  • /
    Photo: Debbie Sanders, Community
  • /
    Photo: Debbie Sanders, Community
  • /
    Photo: Debbie Sanders, Community
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    Photo: Debbie Sanders, Community
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    Photo: Debbie Sanders, Community
2500 3000 3500 4000 4500 m km 20 40 60 80 100 120

This 6 tot 10-day hike crosses the Front Range from North to South, a combination of well mainntained trails and serious off trail sections. This route following as close as possible the Continental Divide was created by Andrew Skurka: .

Attention: this is a reflection of the route that we have walked. We had to skip partly two sections of the main route because of bad weather. On the other hand we also did two higher variants instead of the main route as well. The guidebook of Skurka mention both main route & variants and is therefore more complete that this description.

difficult
128.2 km
46:30 h
7890 m
7725 m
This route starts at Millner Pass in the North and end at Berthoud Pass in the South and crosses Rocky Mountain National Park, Indian Peak en James Peak Wilderness Area.

Author’s recommendation

As this route stays at 3.000-4.000m elevation, I recommend some extra days beforehand to warm up. There are plenty of hiking possibility around Estes Park.

Difficulty
difficult
Technique
Stamina
Experience
Landscape
Highest point
4036 m
Lowest point
2689 m
Best time of year
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Safety information

There are several off trail sections on this route with can still be covered in snow early in the season. In that case an ice axe and crampons can be useful. In July 2018 we did not need any of this, but every year is different.

Beware of thunderstorms in the afternoon, leave early!

Equipment

  • Normal hiking equipment is necessary.
  • As you have to camping out (no huts in het mountains) you will need that gear too. There are not so much mosquitoes in Colorado, however there are some so I recommend for sleeping an inner for the tarp/tent. 
  • A hard sided bear canister (e.g. Bearvault BV500) is compulsary. 

Tips, hints and links

You need to reservate the campsites:

  • Rocky Mountain National Park: reservations opens at 1st March at 8 a.m. (local time): https://www.nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/wilderness-camping.htm. You pay 25 dollars for a reservation (of several campsites on several dates). You will have to pick up the permit in person at one of the visitor centres (f.ex. Beaver Meadows at Estes Park)
  • Indian Peaks Wilderness: you have to fill in this form and send it by mail to srdvis@fs.fed.us. Call to the same office to give your credit card data so that they can receive 5 dollar reservation. A permit will be send by mail.

Start

Milner Pass (3285 m)
Coordinates:
Geographic
40.419942, -105.812129
UTM
13T 431103 4474685

Destination

Berthoud Pass

Turn-by-turn directions

A guidebook can be ordered at: https://andrewskurka.com/adventures/pfiffner-traverse-colorado-rockies/

Public transport

There is no public transport to the trailheads.

Getting there

  • Getting from Denver International Airport to Milner Pass: there is a regular shuttle service managed by Estes Park Shuttle (45 dollar per person). We asked the same company to drive us to Milner Pass (90 dollar for 2p but they can take more in the same minibus).
  • From Berthoud Pass to Denver International Airport: you can easily hitchhike to Idaho Springs (it's a busy road and hitchhiking is very common there), there you can take the Bustang bus (West Line) to Denver Union Station, where you can take the train back to the airport.
Arrival by train, car, foot or bike

Book recommendation by the author

Author’s map recommendations

National Geographic (1:50.000): 200 'Rocky Mountain National Park', 102 'Indian Peaks - Gold Hill' and 103 'Winter Park / Central City - Rollins Pass'.


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Difficulty
difficult
Distance
128.2 km
Duration
46:30 h
Ascent
7890 m
Descent
7725 m
Multi-stage tour Scenic Geological highlights Botanical highlights Faunistic highlights Summit route

Statistics

: h
 km
 m
 m
Highest point
 m
Lowest point
 m
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