Hiking in Colorado is incredibly rewarding. Here at Arapahoe Basin, our hiking trails take you through pine and spruce forests full of wildflowers, across streams, and -- ultimately -- above timberline to where the mountain views are wide open and unblemished by activities, towns, or a resort village. If you reach our summit at 12,456 feet via the upper Summer Road, you might catch a glimpse of our resident mountain goat herd.
We have 7 miles of uncrowded trails for you to enjoy, plus unbeatable views and no need to worry about whether or not you can get parking at the trailhead. Recreating at this elevation (10,500 feet and above) also has its own unique set of considerations. If you're not familiar with high-alpine hiking, read on to learn how to have a great day on foot at Arapahoe Basin.
1. Water. And more water.
Water is the first thing you should be thinking about if you're planning an activity at our elevation. The International Society for Mountain Medicine defines high altitude as between 5,000 and 11,500 feet, and very high altitude as between 11,500 and 18,000 feet. If you take the Black Mountain Express Lift and hike to our summit via the Summer Road or you enjoy the mellower Half Moon Vista trail, you're at "very high altitude."
Up here, people dehydrate much more rapidly than at sea level. Drinking a lot of water can help mitigate everything from tiredness and headaches to full-blown altitude sickness. We have plenty of bottle-filling stations and several reusable water bottles for sale in our retail shop in case you forgot your own.
2. A backpack with stuff in it.
Our elevation and mountain setting mean stunning views and cool, crisp air. If you're headed up, be sure to bring extra layers of clothing, especially if you plan to have a picnic or hang out while the kids run around; it could be several degrees colder on the mountain than in the parking lot. As with any hike in Colorado, don't forget your camera, sunscreen, sunglasses, and shoes with soles that are stable and offer good grip. And water.
3. A weather forecast.
Afternoon thunderstorms are common in the mountains and can start as early as noon. Rain is not quite the problem... lightening can be deadly especially when you are exposed out in the open above treeline. Check our weather forecast before coming to visit. We generally recommend planning big hikes in the morning so that you are off the mountain by the time the storms roll in.
4. A tasty lunch
A-Basin's beautiful setting is perfect for a peaceful picnic lunch. We especially like the rock outcroppings near the high point of the Half Moon Vista trail; the deck of Black Mountain Lodge at the top of Argentine North Fork; by the pond halfway up the Summer Road (pictured above); or off the beaten path at the summit.
Or, work up your appetite and join us after your hike in the 6th Alley Bar & Grill from 11 AM to 5 PM, daily. We have a scenic deck, kids menu, a full bar, and delicious homemade meals from hearty salads to hefty burgers.
5. A healthy respect for the wildlife
Our mountain is home to mountain goats, moose, beavers, bears, foxes, porcupine, and more. Please do not feed, approach, or scare wildlife. You (hopefully) know that bears are dangerous but so are moose, and mountain goats can be aggressive particularly when there are babies around. It is important that we peacefully co-exist and the best way to do that is to leave everyone be.
Ready to hike?
Check out our 7 miles of dog-friendly trails / dirt roads, save the map to your phone, and go exploring! Trails are free to access and open daily until snowmaking starts (late September to early October).