Deer Mountain, Deer Ridge Junction Trailhead, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Deer Mountain - 6.0 miles

Deer Ridge Junction Trailhead

View from the summit of Deer Mountain (10,013')

View from the summit of Deer Mountain (10,013')

Round-Trip Length: 6.0 miles
Start-End Elevation: 8,930' - 10,013' (10,013' max elevation)
Elevation Change: +1,083' net elevation gain (+1,236' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Moderate
Dogs Allowed: No
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: Yes
Related Trails:

Deer Mountain - 6.0 Miles Round-Trip

Deer Mountain (10,013') caps a tall, divisive ridge between Beaver Meadows (south) and Horseshoe Park (northwest) in Rocky Mountain National Park. This moderate hike follows a well-maintained trail through ponderosa parks, aspen stands and subalpine forests to the summit, which rises just above all other points on the ridge.

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

Southern exposure keeps the trail snow-free longer than many others in the Park, extending accessibility from late spring to early winter.

Visitors will enjoy ecological diversity and panoramas that include some of Rocky Mountain's most iconic summits, meadows and geological features:

The Deer Mountain Trail heads east on a steady grade across sparsely treed hillsides of ponderosa and aspen. Deer and elk are common along these lower slopes, and southern views over Longs Peak, Beaver Meadows and Moraine Park improve with each step.

Moraines separating these meadows - or low ridges of glacial till pushed aside by a glacier's downward movement - gain definition as you progress.

The trail switchbacks at .85 miles with views over Horseshoe Park and the Mummy Range including Mount Chapin (12,454'), Mount Chiquita (13,069'), Ypsilon Mountain (13,514') and Fairchild Mountain (13,502').

Switchbacks steepen through 1.55 miles (9,612') in a thicker mix of aspen, spruce, and fir before leveling abruptly on the ridge top (2.05 miles : 9,835').

Travel eases through 2.25 miles (9,930') before dipping and climbing back to the Deer Mountain Summit Trail split (2.8 miles : 9,843'). Bear right for a short but steep climb to the summit.

The Deer Mountain summit (3.0 miles : 10,013') is small but easily maneuvered for sensational panoramas that stretch across Estes Park, Longs Peak and neighboring summits on the Continental Divide, Moraine Park, Beaver Meadows, Horseshoe Park and the Mummy Range.

A good map will help identify all points of interest, and provide useful perspective on the greater landscape and distance between each feature.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N40 23.220 W105 36.592 — 0.0 miles : Deer Ridge Junction Trailhead
  • N40 23.168 W105 36.078 — .5 miles : Steady climb through open hillside
  • N40 23.194 W105 35.898 — 1.0 miles : Long, moderate switchbacks up south face
  • N40 23.340 W105 35.629 — 1.55 miles : Switchbacks tighten and steepen
  • N40 23.213 W105 35.622 — 2.0 miles : Trail levels on high ridge
  • N40 23.065 W105 35.106 — 2.5 miles : Trail dips and rises back thru mixed forest
  • N40 22.889 W105 34.961 — 2.8 miles : Deer Mountain Summit Spur split
  • N40 22.755 W105 35.062 — 3.0 miles : Deer Mountain Summit

Worth Noting

  • This is an attractive autumn hike, and often accessible late into the season.
  • Deer Mountain is a popular destination with limited parking along Trail Ridge Road. Arrive early to secure parking and avoid crowds.
  • The Deer Mountain summit is exposed. Be mindful of changing weather and leave the summit before storms develop.

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Camping and Backpacking Information

  • There are no designated backcountry campsites along the Deer Mountain Trail.

Rules and Regulations

  • There's a $20 day-use fee to enter Rocky Mountain National Park. A $30 multi-day use pass is also available.
  • Dogs are not permitted on any backcountry trail in Rocky Mountain National Park.
  • Horses are permitted on the Deer Mountain Trail, but not on the access spur to reach the summit.

Directions to Trailhead

The Deer Ridge Junction Trailhead is located 3.05 miles west of the Beaver Meadows Entrance Station along Trail Ridge Road (Highway 36). The trailhead is located on the north side of the road at the Trail Ridge Road - Highway 34 split. There is no designated lot, but roadside parking is permitted. Parking is limited.

Contact Information

Rocky Mountain National Park
1000 Highway 36
Estes Park, CO 80517-8397

Visitor Information:
970.586.1206

Backcountry Office:
970.586.1242

Campground Reservations:
800.365.2267

Trip Reports

There are no trip reports on this trail.



Comments

"Hiked deer Mountain 1st light after camping in Moraine Campground overnight. Dry trail to the switchbacks and broken snow fields after that. Snow was hard on top, micro spikes help on the steeper parts but can do without if you watch your footing. Snow predicted 4/28 so not sure what that will bring."
MAD Hippies  -  Denver, CO  -  Date Posted: April 29, 2014
"We did this hike close to Labor Day weekend when other trails can be packed and parking can be difficult in the Park. We found this trail was nice and quite and offered plenty of parking at the 36 and 34 Junction. On top of the ridge, beautiful views of the Park and Divide. Highly recommended and I will be doing this one again. "
Joshua White  -  Erie, CO  -  Date Posted: December 31, 2013
"Hiked deer mountain today. Me and my wife are from Ohio and have only been in the high altitude a few days so we are still trying to get used to the thin air. The hike was awesome! I am 38 and my wife is 12 years older than me. I am a big guy weighing in at 300 lbs but I also workout 5 days a week at home so I thought this moderate hike would be a good way to get used to hiking in the altitude. I'll admit it was harder than I thought but at the same time it wasn't too hard. We set a pretty good pace up and made the summit in just over an hour and a half. By far the hardest part is the last 2 tenths of a mile which are stone stairs leading to the peak. On the way down we did it in an hour and 20 min without difficulty save a few slips on sandy soil and loose rocks. My wife who doesn't workout much and isn't into hiking like I am and who is also turning 50 this year did this hike in fine style. She made me proud! All in all I recommend Deer Mountain as a hike for people of all ages as long as they are at least somewhat physically fit and have the time to rest if needed. The views make all the hard work worth it and the feeling of accomplishment is very satisfying. So if you are looking for a good hike and are willing to sweat a little Deer Mountain is the one! Enjoy! "
Dwight  -  Ohio  -  Date Posted: August 3, 2013
"Incredible views all around! Bring lunch and stay at the summit for while. Take your time and get there when you get there! You won't regret it! "
Kory  -  Seabrook, Texas  -  Date Posted: June 7, 2013
"Drop dead beauty! The majority of the hike provides you with a grand view of the Rockies (peaks and valleys) for 75% of the trail. The trail is in excellent shape and easy to navigate. I would highly recommend this for the nature lover or anyone wanting a decent workout. I would consider the 6.1. miles round trip a moderate hike up and an easy/moderate down. The grade is steady (apx 1000 ft from the trail head to the pinnacle) but nothing over the top with the exception of the last quarter mile. This part will be the most difficult as there are a series of “stairs” that take you to the top. Take water, snack and a wind breaker and enjoy the view once you hit the top! "
Jim  -  Greensboro, NC  -  Date Posted: September 25, 2012
"Pretty good hike to test your altitude readiness if youre from the sea level. I did it in about 2.5 hours. Bring water, and beware the case sense that you are near the end Gregory is dead right about that"
Hans olavson  -  Austin tx  -  Date Posted: August 13, 2012
"Started hike at 9:20am on a Saturday...beautiful trail, scenery and great workout! Many times you feel you are near the summit...don't let it fool you! Beautiful weather and it took us 4 hours but we stopped to enjoy the horses and riders, scenery and ate lunch on the summit."
 -   -  Date Posted: July 25, 2012
"A great hike for a 50 plus age group. Husband and I don't have the greatest knee's but this was doable. Lots of sun and shaded areas. Views were fantastic especially at the summit. A park ranger made the suggestion and we were more than thrilled. "
Marion Bryant  -   -  Date Posted: July 22, 2012
"A great hike! And I think 6 hours would be on the longer end for this hike. At least, I wouldn't plan on it taking that long. I did it today carrying my 1 year old daughter and it took us about 2 and a half hours, including about 40 minutes of breaks. Granted, I am faster than most, but I'd plan on 3+ hours for your average hiker. And kudos to Tommy for hiking this mountain! It's a tough one and I hope I'm able to do it at all when I'm 75!! Incredible!"
Michael Hodges  -  Estes Park  -  Date Posted: July 22, 2012
"I am 74.5 years old and I climbed Deer Mountain to the top today. I started my hike at 7:30 a.m. and was hiking along the 6th switchback out of 16 I counted when a couple passed me. They lived close to Estes Park and hike in the area every weekend. I continued my slow, steady pace up the hillside. I had trouble with the hike because I recently went on a diet and have loss more than 10 pounds, and my blood pressure decreased while Iv'e been in Colorado, and of my age, but I did make it to the top and I enjoyed the hike at a slower pace. I really enjoyed the first part of the hike through Ponderosa Pine, Fir, Spruce, and Aspen trees. I encourage everyone who plans to take this hike to carry at least two water bottles (if not more), and some food to eat on the summit. It took me 6 hours to complete the round trip. I did not see anyone that looked older than 50 on this trail."
Tommy Cheuvront Olson  -  Merced, CA 95333  -  Date Posted: June 9, 2012

 

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