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Tips for East Coast Backpacker travelling to Denver in June

My girlfriend and I are traveling to Denver this June for a 3 day backpacking trip on the Lost Creek Wilderness trail. I am wondering if anyone has any tips for someone like me who primarily hikes on the East Coast. For example, can I use a bear hang bag or do I need a bear container? What weather do we need to prepare for? All tips help. Thanks!
12 Replies

1. Bear canister not mandatory, but mandatory to protect food, hanging, ursack, canister, etc. Sometimes heavy fines if you don’t 

2. call rangers ref snow status, could be a major issue

3. Check historical weather & when you get closer, to pinpoint your location forecast.

4. Be prepared for lows in low 30’s. A 20f bag, puffy jacket, beanie, thermals, light gloves should do it ( in addition to jacket, change of clothes, etc)

REI Member Since 1979

@m_andreas10 how exciting!

@Philreedshikes already made some great recommendations. I would also add to plan adequately for the weather you might encounter - afternoon thunderstorms are common that time of year. Also make sure you are aware if there are any forest fires or other warnings in the area prior to your trip. 

When you say that you primarily hike on the East Coast, does this mean this will be your first backpacking trip? And what sort of elevation do you hike at? The answers to these questions can help me give you some other tips for your trip.


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@bryndsharp - So I have done a ton of research in choosing a location, and it seems like there won't be enough snow in the Lost Creek Wilderness that time of year to make a big impact, but im sure we will still encounter some. And this is my first backpacking trip that's not in the White Mountains. I have done many 2-3 day trips around here, usually with about 4000-9000 elevation gain. However, the highest peak around here is Mount Washington at 6000 so I know I'll have to take the altitude into account.

@m_andreas10  and I'll add that I've always thought NH has the toughest hiking in the US!

I go to colorado to 'rest up' from NH!  I don't think CO is going to throw anything other than it's altitude that you haven't already seen!

ps - the altitude is no joke, good luck 🙂


REI Member Since 1979

@m_andreas10 gotcha! One thing I'd recommend is making sure you do some elevation/incline training with your packs at a weight heavier than what you plan on carrying. One of the easiest ways to do this is to weigh down your pack with items such as water and weights (if you have them haha) + fill items such as clothing, until you reach approx. 20 pounds heavier than your intended trail weight. Then you take that pack and do various incline hikes with it, starting shorter and gradually increasing the length of the hike, until you feel comfortable and in-shape when carrying that weight. This will not only make your trip pack feel lighter, but it will help you when you get into higher elevation and everything feels heavier. 🙂

If I think of anything else I'll let you know!


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current personal strategy: get to camp early so I can take a nap!  there, I've said it!

REI Member Since 1979

Lost Creek Wilderness is beautiful!  In June you can expect tons of wildflowers in the exposed meadows and burn scars from the 2002 Hayman Fire, and snow in protected areas.  You might even get fresh snow.  If your route takes you close to Bison Peak and you’re feeling good with the elevation, go to the summit.  It is unlike nearly every other summit in Colorado.  Giant granite rock gardens cover the summit for hours of exploring.

I use a bear hang bag, but an Ursak would work as well.  It is often challenging to do a good hang as most conifers and aspen in Colorado don’t have branches that are long enough.

You’ll be starting your hike a 6000’ or more, so it might be a good idea to acclimatize with a night in Denver.  Better yet, sleep high by camping on Kenosha or Guanella Pass, then start the hike lower.  Also, pack weight becomes more of an issue the higher you are above your normal elevation.

Have an amazing time, and please repost after your trip!  We’d love to hear your stories.

And feel free to pm me for more specific questions.

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Great advice from johnt on a somewhat secret area in Colorado. Nothing really on the Eastern Front near Denver is secret, so be prepared for company. Oftentimes that means be ready for someone else to have all the campsites if you are last there.

If bears want food in a tree they can get it. Bear cubs will go up to your cord and chew it to make the bag drop in the High Sierras. That's why they require a bear cans. Rockies bears are getting smarter. Don't do it for you, do it for the animals.

Be ready for rain any summer in the Rockies. Because of the weather and the potential of crowds it's best to start walking early in the day and choose a campsite by mid-afternoon.

Camp near Kenosha Pass to acclimate. Look for Moose.


I'm sorry, I misspoke.  I was typing without thinking and reversed what is recommended.  To help with acclimatization you should climb high and sleep low.  So hike, for example, the Colorado Trail at Kenosha Pass, or the Ben Tyler Trail, and then go back to a lower elevation to sleep.  Both of these trails are on US285, which is where you're probably accessing the Lost Creek Wilderness.  Other great dayhikes would include the Rosalie Trail and ThreeMile Trail.

Lost Creek Wilderness is so named for the creek that disappears under humongous boulders for about three miles.  You can find it by climbing into openings between the boulders, or it comes to the surface occasionally and when it finally reappears it is renamed Goose Creek.  Fascinating and beautiful.  I don't know what loop you are doing, but if you are on Goose Creek Trail you could easily drop your pack and explore for a while.  Also explore the shaft house area about 1/2 mile off the trail.

Again, I apologize for my mistake in the previous post. Happy hiking!

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