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
Blowing snow and snow likely before 5am, then snow likely and areas of blowing snow. Cloudy. Low around 19, with temperatures rising to around 22 overnight. West southwest wind 29 to 37 mph, with gusts as high as 51 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible.
Snow likely and areas of blowing snow before 5pm, then blowing snow and snow likely. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 22. West southwest wind 23 to 29 mph, with gusts as high as 44 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New snow accumulation of 4 to 8 inches possible.
Blowing snow and snow likely before 7pm, then snow likely and areas of blowing snow between 7pm and 10pm, then blowing snow and snow likely between 10pm and 11pm, then snow and areas of blowing snow. Cloudy. Low around 12, with temperatures rising to around 14 overnight. Wind chill values as low as -4. West southwest wind 18 to 24 mph, with gusts as high as 37 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New snow accumulation of 5 to 9 inches possible.
A chance of snow. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 16. Wind chill values as low as -7. West wind 18 to 23 mph, with gusts as high as 35 mph. Chance of precipitation is 50%. New snow accumulation of around one inch possible.
A chance of snow before 5am. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 8. West wind around 17 mph, with gusts as high as 28 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%. New snow accumulation of less than one inch possible.
A chance of snow after 11am. Partly sunny, with a high near 20. Chance of precipitation is 40%. New snow accumulation of less than one inch possible.
A chance of snow. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 7. Chance of precipitation is 40%. New snow accumulation of less than one inch possible.
Max DesMarais is the founder of Hiking & Fishing. He has a passion for the outdoors and making outdoor education and adventure more accessible. Max is a published author for various outdoor 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. You can read more about him here: hikingandfishing/about