Twin Sisters, Twin Sisters Trailhead, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Twin Sisters - 7.2 Miles
Twin Sisters Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||7.2 Miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||9,040' - 11,428' (11,428' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+2,388' net elevation gain (+2,477' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Twin Sisters' north-south ridgeline runs nearly two miles along Rocky Mountain National Park's east-central boundary. A short but strenuous trail leads to a small saddle between the Twin Sisters and splits up scrambling routes to the respective summits (11,413' and 11,428'). Visitors will enjoy magnificent views of Longs Peak, Mt Meeker, Estes Cone and much of Rocky Mountain National Park's Continental Divide:
The trail climbs over the parking lot on long, steep switchbacks through uniform lodgepole Views of Longs Peak (14,259'), Mt Meeker (13,911'), Powell Peak (13,208'), Taylor Peak (13,153') and Estes Cone (11,006') emerge to the west as you progress.
Look for Mills Glacier in Mills Moraine, a gash in the landscape at the base of Longs Peak's east-facing 'diamond'. Mills Glacier forms the headwaters of Chasm Lake and Roaring Fork River.
Lodgepole are succeeded by spruce and fir as you pass 10,100' (1.7 miles), which become krummholz past 10,600' (2.3 miles). Krummholz - a German word meaning twisted wood - describes the stunted, irregular growth patterns of trees in the ecological transition zone from subalpine forests to alpine tundra. Poor soil, thin air, strong winds, and extreme weather limit growth at these elevations.
The trail crosses treeline on a steep, scree-laden path with your first clear view of the Twin Sisters (3.0 miles : 11,050'). It winds to a small saddle between the east (11,428') and west (11,413') Twin Sisters Peaks (3.45 miles : 11,368'), from which cairn-marked social trails split off through boulders and scree to the individual summits.
The west peak (adjacent to the research station) is more accessible and easily reached. The east peak's route is less obvious, requiring a short but steep scramble up boulders and some loose rock.
- The trailhead is actually located just east of the Park Boundary, and portions of the trail pass through National Forest Land. No entry fee is required to hike this trail.
- The final .7 miles are rugged and exposed. Snow and ice may cover portions of the trail and summits much of the year.
- There is what some refer to as the 'butterfly burn' on Twin Sisters Mountain's west face. This area - more visible from the trailhead than the trail itself - is an aspen grove whose autumn colors resemble a large 'butterfly'. This is especially visible from the Longs Peak Trail Head.
- 11,428 East Twin Sisters Peak :: 11,413 West Twin Sisters Peak
The Twin Sisters Trailhead is located south of Estes Park on Highway 7. There is a large trailhead sign for the turn-off on the east side of Highway 7. Parking is available at the trailhead and along the road.
Rocky Mountain National Park