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Tennessee vs Colorado trail intensity - can anyone share how they compare?

Has anyone hiked in Tennessee and Rocky Mountain National Park? My wife and I will be heading to Rocky from Memphis here soon and we're trying to find a trail or two. On the Hiking Project site, a trail my wife and I frequent is labeled as Intermediate in difficulty. But is that TN Intermediate or Rocky Mountain Intermediate? Is Rocky Intermediate more like a Hella Difficult in Tennessee? 

I just want to have realistic expectations... Thanks!

3 Replies

Hi @BenH!

Thanks for your question! Rocky Mountain National Park is such a special place to visit, especially in the winter and early spring!

When comparing trails in Colorado and Tennessee, it's important to account for the change in altitude. Rocky Mountain National Park ranges in elevation from 7,860 ft to 14,259 ft at its highest point, Longs Peak. At high altitudes, less oxygen is present in the air, so an effort that might feel intermediate at a low altitude could feel more challenging at higher elevation. There is also a risk of altitude sickness at high elevations, regardless of physical fitness or previous experience at higher altitudes. 

Colorado has also had a higher-than-normal amount of snow this year. In Rocky Mountain National Park, many trails may be partially or fully covered with snow until late May or early June. Make sure to check the road and trail conditions before heading up to the trailhead.

Just because the trail is covered with snow doesn't mean you can't go outside! The gentle terrain on the Wild Basin side of the park is one of my favorite places to snowshoe, and is quite protected from wind and blowing snow. For more information on snowshoeing basics, check out REI's Expert Advice article, "Beginner's Guide to Snowshoeing," which reviews what you'll need to have a great experience. And, if you're looking to rent gear, REI Boulder, the closest store to Rocky Mountain National Park, offers snowshoe rentals! 

Enjoy your trip to Rocky Mountain National Park! See you outside!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

Yeah the altitude is something I wasn't really considering. I read it can decrease 25% at like 12K ft or something. Thank you!

@BenH I struggle quite a bit at altitude, despite being a strong hiker in general. Definitely something to research more as you prep for your trip!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.