Loveland Pass, West Ridge
One of the most direct accesses to alpine wildflower viewing is just an hour from Denver. Sitting astride the Continental Divide, Loveland Pass reaches 11,990 feet into the Colorado sky. This is the land of tundra, of high country above treelimit, and a place of wide skies where snow leaves late and returns early. During this short time, this land of tundra emerges, blooms, and sets seed—all in great beauty. While most visitors head up the well-worn east trail toward 13,234-foot Mount Sniktau, a lesser-used trail begins across the highway. This one follows the west ridge of the pass, a good portion of it along the spine of the Continental Divide. While much of the west “bowl” can be snowbound well into summer, the exposed ridge itself may be snow-free reasonably early. Whether the alpine wildflower seeker aims for early tundra flowers or waits until later in the bloom season for different species, the alpine floristics are amazing. July’s first week count may be about 40, and during July’s third week, the count may be as high as 60. Hikers along the Loveland Pass West Ridge Trail ascend through rainbows of color along a rocky trail and then traverse a lusher slope up to a saddle with splendid views. An easygoing segment continues out to another wonderful vista point. There, circles of stone have been erected for protection from the cold wind that sometimes sweeps the Continental Divide. The unpredictable elements of tundra exploration can be surprising. Go prepared for cold, wind, sudden afternoon thunderstorms, and sometimes snow. Be prepared for great beauty as well. Wildflower Alert: Wildflower gems of the tundra begin from the first step at the Continental Divide to a far-horizon view.
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Directions to: Loveland Pass, West Ridgeprint directions
Trail Statistics & Information
|Skill Level||Moderate (due to elevation)|
|Season||Bloom is late June to August|
|Top Elevation||12,479 ft|
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