Flat Tops Explorer

Denver or Rifle, CO
5.0 (1 reviews)

Trip Highlights

  • Alpine Lakes
  • Ascend 2 Flat Tops Peaks
  • High Plateaus & Alpine Tundra
  • Mountain Solitude
  • Creeks Tumbling from the High Country
  • Abundant Wildlife Habitat

Description

Enjoy a challenging, isolated, and scenic experience in Colorado’s backcountry! The Flat Top Wilderness offers an escape from crowds, while showcasing landscapes worthy of being a national park. Known as the “Cradle of Wilderness,” the Flat Tops are said to have inspired Congress to create the Wilderness Act. It is Colorado’s second largest wilderness area consisting of 235,000 acres of alpine lakes, streams, peaks, and wildlife. This five-day backpacking trip is a fantastic choice for any individual aiming to explore vast amount of terrain in authentic wilderness. The Flat Tops Explorer follows a beautiful route around Trappers Lake, exploring the high plateau and alpine lakes. A combination of moving campsites and day hiking creates opportunities to view wildflowers, herds of elk, marmot, and lakes filled with Colorado Cutthroat Trout. Day 4 grants the chance to hike one of the tallest summits in the region, Trappers Peak (12,002 ft.). Returning to civilization will come far too soon after experiencing such beauty and adventure.

5 Days 2021
$1320 Per Person
4 Days 2022
$1215 Per Person
Return Guests get a 10% discount on all Trips!
Trip Type: Guided Backpacking Trip
Difficulty Level:
Solitude Level:
Group Size: 4-8 Guests
Trip Length: 4-5 Days
Distance: 24MI / 39KM

DIFFICULTY LEVEL 4

Our difficulty ratings are based on a scale of 1-5, tours with a rating of 1 being least difficult, tours with a rating of 5 being most difficult

Backpack Weight:
35-45 pounds
Daily Hiking Distances:
5-8 miles
Most Elevation Loss:
1600 feet
Most Elevation Gain:
1300 feet
Quality of Trails:
Lightly maintained
Additional:
This trip follows dirt and rock trails that are lightly maintained with multiple creek crossings. All Flat Tops trips require significant elevation gain the first day to reach the alpine plateau, and on the final day to descend back to the trailhead.

Participants should:

  1. be active and healthy
  2. regularly exercise vigorously
  3. be comfortable hiking, biking, running, or swimming for several hours without many breaks

SOLITUDE LEVEL 4

1 least solitude, 5 most solitude

We rate this Colorado hike a solitude 4. You can expect to see a couple other groups of hikers per day.

Learn More about our Rating System

In 2021 our Flat Tops Wilderness backpacking trips originate in Denver on Day 1. We rendezvous at 1:00 PM at Union Station and shuttle 6 hours to the trailhead, where we camp overnight and begin our hike the next morning.

In 2022 and beyond our Flat Tops trips originate in Rifle, CO on the morning of Day 1, where we shuttle 2 hours and begin our hike the same day. Trips are one day shorter due to the much shorter drive times. The hikes themselves are the same length and duration.

Private Trips

Traveling in perfect company is a wonderful thing! With our private trip offerings you can book a trip exclusively for your group. Whether it’s with family, friends or colleagues, private trips are a fun and enriching way to explore the outdoors.

Private trip pricing is based on a sliding scale, depending on the number of people in your party. Rates are per person and do not include sales tax and national park fees (where applicable) or guide gratuity. Give us a call at 800-715-HIKE to get the ball rolling!

Private Rates FOr This Trip

  • 2 People: Rate x 2
  • 3 People: Rate x 1.3
  • 4 People: Rate x 1.1
  • 5+ People: Rate x 1

*all rates are per person

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ITINERARY

ITINERARY

Day 1

  • Shuttle to Trailhead: 6 hours

For this amazing Colorado backpacking tour, we will handle logistics differently in 2022 and beyond, so this first day only applies to trips in 2021.

You will meet your guide and group at Union Station in Denver, Colorado at 10:00 AM. Union Station is centrally located in downtown Denver, has light rail to and from the airport, provides nearby lodging and multiple dining options. From Denver we will shuttle across the Rocky Mountains, stopping for a picnic lunch along the Colorado River. Once reaching our destination at a beautiful mountain lake, we will set up camp at an established campground at 9,600 feet. Your guide will distribute camping equipment, and food, as we prepare our packs for our journey. After a scrumptious dinner, if no fire ban is in place, we will light a fire while the sun sets and stars emerge.

Day 2

  • Hiking Mileage: 7 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2,000 feet

After a filling breakfast we’ll make our way to Trappers Outlet Trailhead. We will leave roads, cell service, and people behind and begin hiking South along the lakeshore. Our beginning leg of the journey may seem desolate as it is recovering from a forest fire in 2002. Signs of beauty emerge as wildflowers and young pine trees are quickly returning. After our first mile, the trail departs from the lake and gradually gains elevation to 11,300 feet. Rising out of the valley onto the plateau, one can understand how this region earned the name Flat Tops. Once your guide locates a campsite, we will wrap up the evening with dinner. As the sun sets, expect to see the clearest night skies you may ever witness.

Day 3

  • Hiking Mileage: 6.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: 1000 feet

With our camp located in a prime location, we will rise with the sun to a full day’s adventure. Leaving camp in the same location, we hike with only day packs. We’ll explore the secluded Island Lakes Region, a stunning cirque of cliffs offering great fishing and relaxation.

Day 4

  • Hiking Mileage: 5 miles
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: 1300 feet

Today we pack camp and hike Northwest along the Wall Lake Trail. Hiking in rolling meadows providing superb views of the surrounding mountains. Upon reaching our destination of Wall Lake, we will grab our day packs and set for the summit of Trappers Peak (12,002 ft.). The view is an excellent vantage point of the terrain we covered the previous days. After our summit, we will return to camp and enjoy the evenings sunset.

Day 5

  • Hiking Mileage: 5 miles
  • Elevation Loss: 1700 feet
  • Shuttle to Denver: 6 hours

We’ll enjoy our last campsite breakfast, break camp, and continue North along our trail. As we walk we’ll have another excellent opportunity to see wildlife in the forest, meadow, and creeks we pass. Making our way off the Plateau, we will return to Trappers Lake Trailhead in time for lunch. After sorting gear and taking in the last moments of wilderness, we will start our shuttle back to Denver. Anticipate returning to Denver generally before 7pm.

2022 Itinerary Change

In 2022 this will be a 4-day trip originating from Rifle, CO. The drive time to the trailhead is approximately 2 hours (vs. 6 hours from) and the rest of the itinerary is unchanged. Transportation to Rifle and pre-trip lodging are the guests’s responsibility.

Please Note: We always do everything in our power to follow the set itinerary, however it can change occasionally based on temporary access restrictions, weather, lodging/campground availability, guest ability/injury, natural events like fires and flooding, and other potential causes.

Trip Dates & Booking

TRIP DATES & BOOKING

Click on a date to register. You can also click here to request new dates or book through customer service.

Available to Book

AVAILABLE TO BOOK

This trip is available and bookable online! Click on the date to register now or contact us online to book through our award-winning customer service team!

Going Fast

GOING FAST

This trip has 1 or 2 spots remaining and is bookable online! Click on the date to book now or contact us online to book through customer service.

Request a Reservation

REQUEST A RESERVATION

This trip is exclusively booked through customer service due to logistics with lodging, permits, staffing, availability, or something else. Please contact us online or call us at 800-715-HIKE (4453) to request a reservation.

Don't see your dates? Call us! We may be able to add new trip dates.

800-715-HIKE (4453)

Trip Details

Trip Details

What's Included

  • Top-of-the-line tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, and technical backpack
  • Use of trekking poles
  • All meals are included from breakfast the first day through lunch on the last day
  • A professional, knowledgeable, certified Colorado hiking guide
  • Roundtrip transportation from Denver, Colorado to the trailhead and back (in 2022 and beyond transportation is from Rifle, CO)
  • Entrance fees and public lands permits
  • Emergency equipment including a company-issued first-aid kit and satellite phone
  • You will receive a Lifetime Hiking Membership entitling you, your spouse and kids to a lifetime discount of 10% off any Wildland Trekking hiking trip after your first one!

What's Not Included

  • Clothes, raingear, and footwear (Oboz hiking shoes and boots recommended)
  • Sunscreen, toiletries and personal items
  • Water bottles and a headlamp or flashlight
  • Guide gratuity (industry recommendation is 10-20% of trip cost)

Click here to see a printable, downloadable trip information packet with more detailed guidance about what to pack.

Meals: What To Expect

All of our hiking and backpacking tours include a diversity of tasty meals packed full of critical carbohydrates, proteins and fats. We carry foods that travel well in the backcountry – rice, pastas, lentils, beans, couscous, packaged meats, nuts, breads, oatmeal, granola, and more.

For optimal taste and energy, we supplement all our meals with spices, herbs, oils, cheeses, butter, sugar, and fruits and vegetables (fresh and dried). In addition, we provide you with with an assortment of trail mix, snacks, and dried fruits to eat at your own discretion.

We regularly accommodate vegan, vegetarian, kosher and non-gluten diets and will make adjustments for food allergies. These and other special dietary requests may require an additional fee.

Gear We Provide

We provide all group gear which includes the following:

  • Deuter or Osprey backpacks
  • Sierra Designs, Kelty or Big Agnes tents
  • Sierra Designs, Kelty, Big Agnes and Mountain Hardware sleeping bags
  • Thermarest or Big Agnes sleeping pads
  • Leki or Black Diamond trekking poles
  • Cooking stoves and cookware
  • Company-issued first-aid kit
  • Emergency communication device(s)

What Gear To Bring

We ask that you supply a couple of gear items on your hiking tour. These items are two 1-liter water bottles per person and either a headlamp or flashlight per person. Basic items like sunscreen, bug repellent, lip balm, and toiletries are also important. All of these items are available online at Wildland Trekking Outfitters.

What Clothes to Bring

When you register for this tour you’ll receive access to a printable, downloadable trip information packet with detailed guidance about what clothes to pack (click here to see it now.) All trips require a sturdy pair of hiking shoes or hiking boots, rain gear, and our recommended clothing system. A minimum of three pairs of wool or synthetic hiking socks are also required. All of these items are available online at Wildland Trekking Outfitters.

Trip Logistics

Trip Logistics

How do I Register?

Reserve your spot today! In the Trip Dates & Booking section of this page, the green and red dates are bookable online by simply clicking on the date, and blue dates must be booked through our customer service team for a variety of possible reasons. To email our customer service team, you can click here to get the ball rolling. Our adventure consultants will confirm availability, and if you’re ready to register we’ll email you a link to a registration profile. You’ll have 72 hours to complete your profile (and that of any dependents) and pay the deposit.

Feel free to call us for more info – we’re here 7 days a week!

Where Do We Meet?

2021: You will meet your guide and group at Union Station in downtown Denver, Colorado on Day 1 at 10:00 AM. Your guide will coordinate the rendezvous in their pre-trip communication.

2022 & beyond: You will meet your guide and group in Rifle, CO the morning of Day 1. Your guide will coordinate the rendezvous in their pre-trip communication.

Click here to see a printable, downloadable trip information packet with more detailed guidance about flights, shuttles, recommended lodging and more.

Start/End Times

2021: Your trip officially starts at 10:00 AM on Day 1 with pick up in Denver. We will drop you off in Denver on the final day normally before 7 PM (this time is not guaranteed, as a variety of circumstances can influence our exact return time).

2022 and beyond: Your trip officially starts the morning of Day 1 in Rifle, CO. We will drop you off in Rifle on the final day normally before 5PM (this time is not guaranteed, as a variety of circumstances can influence our exact return time).

Safety Considerations

Your safety is our top priority. Our hiking tours are led by professional hiking guides, all of whom are wilderness-certified first responders or EMT’s, each with years of guiding and wilderness experience. We’ve developed comprehensive risk management protocols that our guides adhere to in case of an emergency, and most tours carry a satellite phone. If you have any further questions about safety, please contact us at 1-800-715-HIKE (4453) for more information.

Guides

Your tour will be led by a trained, experienced professional with a solid guiding background, years of personal wilderness and hiking experience, medical certifications, and a passion for leading people into breathtaking landscapes. Check out our Meet Our Team page for staff bios.

Guide Working Parameters

Guides are required to take 8 hours off each 24-hour period to sleep, recuperate, take personal/down time…etc. In addition, as part of the 8 hours off they must sleep/rest or be in their tents/rooms uninterrupted for a minimum of 5 hours each night. We ask guests to respect these requirements and to not interrupt guides’ off time and sleep time unless there is a true emergency.

Group Size and Age Restrictions

The standard group size on Flat Tops backpacking trips is 6 guests and 1 guide, with a maximum group size of 8 guests and 2 guides. If you have more questions about group size, please give us a call at 1-800-715-HIKE (4453) and we’ll answer all your questions.

Age restrictions are as follows:

  • 12 and older to join scheduled tours (mixed groups)
  • 10 and older to join private tours, with final approval on a case by case basis
  • specific logistical requirements (such as porter or stock assist) determined on a case by case basis

Weather in the Colorado Rockies

Being a high mountain environment, the Rocky Mountains are prone to sudden temperature and weather shifts. This is an exciting aspect of being in Colorado’s high country. On trips in June, snow is a slight possibility, and the rest of the summer rain is always a possibility on your trip. To be fully prepared, please follow the recommended clothing list closely (this list comes as part of your trip packet when you register). See below for average summer temperatures:
Average Temperatures (Fahrenheit)

MonthHighLow
June71°48°
July79°55°
August78°53°
September69°45°

Accommodations

Accommodations

BACKCOUNTRY SLEEPING

Tent Camping

Sleeping on backpacking trips is in premier 1-person, 2-person or 4-person backcountry tents. Solo travelers, and anyone else who requests it, are issued single tents. Top-of-the-line self-inflating sleeping pads and sleeping bags (professionally laundered after every trip) are also provided.

BACKCOUNTRY CUISINE

Fresh & Delicious

Meals from breakfast Day 1 through lunch the last day are fully included and prepared by your guide. We never use dehydrated backpacking meals, instead serving freshly prepared, delicious backcountry cuisine made with a variety of common and specialty ingredients that travel well in the wilderness.

AMAZING CAMPSITES

In the Action

Of course campsites vary tremendously by destination, trip and even by the individual day of a trip. However, you can expect to camp in beautiful areas that put you right in the action to make the most of your backpacking adventure. We carefully design our itineraries with campsites in mind.

Trip Reviews

Trip Reviews

  • Average Customer Ratings:

  • 5.0 (1 reviews)
Patrick Z.
5.0

I had a phenomenal time!

3 years ago

Mary was an amazing guide and I had a phenomenal time!

See More Guest Reviews!

Go to our reviews page

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