Activities, Colorado, Hiking, National Parks & Monuments, State Parks, Rocky Mountain National Park, United States

Colorado Hiked: Twin Sisters Peaks

I am a bit of a planner, what can I say? After fretting over mountain-forecast.com for the past week, I was really at a loss of what to do when the weekend neared. The ridiculously windy spring had continued in northern Colorado and southern Wyoming. Needing a final training hike to “cram prepare” for Mount Saint Helens, I settled on checking out the Round Mountain Trail near Loveland since it would be lower in altitude and hopefully not as snowy as Twin Sisters or higher hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park.

As I left Cheyenne I noticed the most glorious sight – Longs Peak was sunny with no clouds, with Twin Sisters sitting happily below. Twin Sisters was the hike I had wanted to do, but mountain-forecast.com kept telling me no no no due to snow in the forecast. Excited, I decided to keep an eye on Longs Peak, and if it looked like clouds had not moved in once I left Loveland, I would change my hike plans and aim for some above treeline fun, because nothing spells preparation for a 8,000 foot summit like an 11,000 foot summit!

Twin Sisters Peaks (sometimes also called Twin Sisters Peak or just Twin Sisters) is a beautiful climb that meanders in and out of Rocky Mountain National Park and US Forest Service lands. The trail is roughly 8 miles long and gains over 2400 feet of elevation gain to two summit points. The east summit is the highest at 11,428 feet and the west summit (which has a more developed path to the top) is slightly shorter.

I arrived early to a handful of cars at the trailhead, which is across the highway from the Lily Lake Trailhead (and Lily Lake). There is a large sign saying a RMNP entrance pass is required. For some reason on All Trails people like to state no passes are required, but the large sign makes it quite obvious. I tossed my annual America the Beautiful pass in the windshield. (For timed reservation season – the summer – this area falls under the 9am-3pm reservation system as well.)

The parking for Twin Sisters is right across the road from Lily Lake
Lots of parking available on this cool April morning

The first 0.4 mile or so I climbed up a dirt road which was gated (I am unclear if this is open in the summer and if you can park closer). The Twin Sisters trail then branches off to the left. The trail almost immediately was snowy, and after about a tenth of a mile I gave in and put my microspikes on as there was a lot of ice.

Heading up the gravel road

The trail continued up through the trees until coming to an opening which is a result of a landslide that occurred during the apocalyptic rainfall and resulting floods of September 2013. A new trail has since been established across the landslide.

One of the more dry parts of the trail, but it was short enough that I kept my microspikes on. I hate taking those things on and off!
Things started to look a bit stormier over Longs Peak
Crossing the landslide area
I turned around to look behind me on the landslide. Lots of views everywhere!

Almost immediately after the landslide, the trail gets steep and switchbacks tightly. Though I hate the feel of microspikes with my normal hiking boots (I much prefer to use them on mountaineering boots), I was thankful I had them as I felt like I was ice climbing at times! I had passed one other woman, but otherwise the trail was empty. I huffed and puffed, and continued my climb upwards.

Whelp, time to go uphill! And I hate how cameras make everything look flat!
Approaching treeline the trail became completely snow covered. This was a stupidly steep portion that was the winter route. In summer this is area has a switchback.

Treeline with summit in view!

Finally I broke above treeline and began my way through the boulderfield. Stupidly I took off my microspikes thinking the snow and ice were done for, and that lasted about ten feet. Too stubborn to dig the spikes out again, I just dealt with it to the summit. Light snow had begun to fall, but otherwise the weather was quite mild!

The saddle

Upon reaching the saddle between the the twin summits I stashed my pack so I could scramble up Twin Sisters East. I really enjoyed this scramble!

Benchmark on the east peak of Twin Sisters
Summit photo!

Looking back towards the west peak from the east peak. Longs Peak views weren’t there as the snow started falling

East sister done, I headed towards the west sister, which has a more established path to the summit by the USFS hut. When I was wrapping up on the summit, the other woman I passed joined me, and we exchanged photographer duties for each other before parting ways.

Views from the west peak
Summit of the west peak
Looking back at the USFS hut and saddle
East peak

Now there was nothing left to do but head back to the car! As I dropped lower in altitude it was crazy to see how much the snow and ice had softened up in just a few hours, and the dirt road was now soft and muddy.

Heading back down
I stopped for a photo with the Rocky Mountain National Park sign
Cute little critter while crossing the landslide

All in all, it was eight miles and took me about 4 hours and 15 minutes to complete – fast day of hiking for me! I really enjoyed this hike. I’ve seen some reviews saying it is quite boring, but I did not think that. I do wish I had better summit views, but that was my own fault for climbing on a day with a questionable forecast 😉

Elevation profile. Like a typical mountain hike, it goes up, and then down.

Details:
Date Hiked: April 24, 2022
Trailhead: Twin Sisters Trailhead
Total Mileage: 8.08 miles per Strava/Garmin Vivoactive 4s
Total Elevation Gain: 2,497 feet
Total Time Spent: 4 hours 15 minutes
Weather: Cloudy, light snow at times
Trail Conditions: Packed snow, hard ice, some bare spots
Cell Service: Spotty service (Verizon)
Special note: Rocky Mountain National Park pass required for trailhead, and timed entry does apply to this area during those months reservations are required.

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