Flattop Mountain is a beautiful mountain located near Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. It features gradual, but strenuous gains, stunning views, and is a fantastic year round hike.
Distance: 8.9 Miles Round Trip (14.32 km)
Elevation: 12,324 Feet (3,756 M)
Duration: About 6 Hours
Elevation Gain: 2,850 Feet (868.7 M)
Flattop Mountain Trail
The flattop mountain trail is the main trail to hike to the summit of Flattop Mountain. There are a couple variations that are common for hikers to take. The most common of which begins at Bear Lake.
Bear Lake Trail to Flattop Mountain – 8.9 Miles Round Trip – 12,324 feet of elevation gain
This route begins at the end of Bear Lake Road, an extremely popular area in Rocky Mountain National Park. During peak season, it is recommended to take the park’s shuttle to the trailhead. This trail begins along the bear lake trail encircling the lake where hikers will quickly bear right towards the Flattop Mountain trail and Lake Bierstadt.
.5 miles after that right turn, hikers reach a junction in which they need to turn a hard left towards the Flattop Mountain Trail. A right turn will lead hikers towards Bierstadt lake (an alternate route up Flattop Mountain).
Once turning left, the trail begins to get gorgeous views of Bear Lake, Longs Peak, and much more. 1.7 miles into the hike (at around 10,500 feet), there is an overlook of Dream Lake. Treeline is reached around 2.4 miles into the hike.
At mile three, hikers will reach the Emerald Lake Overlook, which is one of the most stunning viewpoints of the hike. The viewpoint sits roughly 1,200 feet above the lake, and features views of Hallett Peak, the lake down below, and a look at some steep incline soon to come.
The rest of this hike is stunning at all moments with views in nearly all directions. The summit of Flattop Mountain (unmarked) is located at the trail junction 4.45 miles into the hike. Hikers have the choice to continue on to Hallett Peak with an additional .7 miles and about 400 feet of elevation gain as seen on the trail map.
Bierstadt Lake Trail – 13.8 Miles Round Trip
This trail begins at the Bierstadt Lake parking area. Hikers will ascend the Bierstadt Morraine to Lake Bierstadt in 1.2 miles, and then turn left towards Flattop Mountain. This option ads a bit of distance to the overall hike as well as elevation gain. This is a great option for those looking to add a little difficulty, or test out a new route, though much of the hike is the same.
Hiking In Winter
Flattop is a great winter hiking option due to its popularity, gradual incline, and stunning views. Microspikes or snowshoes are essential in most winter situations, with snowshoes being necessary dependent on snow conditions. The normal winter hiking precautions and gear should be taken.
Directions & Parking
During peak season, hikers should use the park shuttle. Information on the shuttle can be found here: https://www.nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/shuttle_bus_route.htm
To Bear Lake Parking Area:
To Bierstadt Lake Parking Area:
Current Weather Conditions
Grand Lake, CO
Snow showers likely. Mostly cloudy. High near 14, with temperatures falling to around 10 in the afternoon. Wind chill values as low as -7. West wind around 16 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible.
Snow showers likely before 8pm, then snow showers and patchy blowing snow between 8pm and 11pm, then snow and areas of blowing snow. Mostly cloudy. Low around 5, with temperatures rising to around 7 overnight. Wind chill values as low as -14. West wind 17 to 23 mph, with gusts as high as 39 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New snow accumulation of 3 to 5 inches possible.
Snow and blowing snow before 11am, then snow and blowing snow. Mostly cloudy. High near 9, with temperatures falling to around 5 in the afternoon. Wind chill values as low as -22. West wind 23 to 40 mph, with gusts as high as 64 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New snow accumulation of 3 to 7 inches possible.
Snow. Cloudy, with a low around 6. Wind chill values as low as -22. West wind 43 to 47 mph, with gusts as high as 76 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New snow accumulation of 6 to 10 inches possible.
Snow. Cloudy, with a high near 17. West wind around 47 mph, with gusts as high as 76 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New snow accumulation of 3 to 7 inches possible.
Snow likely. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 15. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New snow accumulation of around one inch possible.
A slight chance of snow before 5pm. Partly sunny, with a high near 36. Chance of precipitation is 20%.
Max DesMarais is the founder of hikingandfishing.com. He has a passion for the outdoors and making outdoor education and adventure more accessible. Max is a published author for various outdoor adventure, travel, and marketing websites. He is an experienced hiker, backpacker, fly fisherman, trail runner, and spends his free time in the outdoors. These adventures allow him to test gear, learn new skills, and experience new places so that he can educate others. Max grew up hiking all around New Hampshire and New England. He became obsessed with the New Hampshire mountains, and the NH 48, where he guided hikes and trail runs in the White Mountains. Since moving out west, Max has continued his frequent adventures in the mountains, always testing gear, learning skills, gaining experience, and building his endurance for outdoor sports. You can read more about his experience here: hikingandfishing/about