Beaver Mountain Loop via Deer Ridge Junction, Deer Ridge Junction Trailhead, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Beaver Mountain Loop via Deer Ridge Junction - 7.15 miles
Deer Ridge Junction Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||7.15 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||8,930' - 8,930' (9,217' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+287' net elevation gain (+1,385' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Beaver Mountain Loop via Deer Ridge Junction - 7.15 Miles Round-Trip
Beaver Mountain (10,491') is located in the east central quadrant of Rocky Mountain National Park. A series of connector trails join the Beaver Mountain Trail to form a lollipop loop through meadows, ponderosa parks, and aspen-fir forests in the heart of Rocky Mountain's montane zone, perhaps the most diverse ecosystem in the Park.
A high water table under Beaver Meadows creates fine, moist soil conditions that do not effectively support tree growth. These meadow-creating conditions are perpetuated over time by grazing wildlife and natural fires.
Surrounding slopes, where soil conditions improve, support ponderosa woodlands, aspen, fir and lodgepole pine. This rich mosaic of meadow and forest provides ideal habitat, safe passage, and abundant food for elk, deer, bear, mountain lion, badger, fox and coyote.
The Beaver Mountain Loop is a versatile, 3-4 season route with magnificent views and excellent wildlife viewing opportunities throughout:
The trail begins on the south side of Trail Ridge Road at the Deer Ridge Junction Trailhead. It drops quickly on unnamed but well-marked connector trails into Beaver Meadows. Follow signs right (.64 miles : 8,517') and left (1.0 miles : 8,532') toward the Upper Beaver Meadows Trailhead.
Cross Upper Beaver Meadows Road (1.45 miles : 8,466') to reach Upper Beaver Meadows Trailhead and begin the loop (1.55 miles : 8,440').
The trail splits again just a few steps from the trailhead, forming a short loop within a loop. The forks are equidistant and rejoin at a sign for Trail Ridge Road - Ute Meadow Campsite (2.15 miles : 8,568'). Curiously, the Beaver Mountain Trail is not listed on these signs, but heading for Trail Ridge Road will keep you on track in each instance.
The Beaver Mountain Trail leaves open meadow and climbs into a mixed pine-fir forest. It wraps around a large outcrop (2.85 miles), crosses a stream, and heads SW up a narrow gulch to the Ute Trail split (3.2 miles : 9,025').
The low rise to your left is the top of a divisive moraine between Moraine Park (south) and Beaver Meadows (north). Moraines are ridges of glacial till pushed aside by a glacier's downward movement. Take a few steps off trail for terrific views over Moraine Park and the Cub Creek drainage from the top of this unique geological feature.
The Beaver Mountain Trail continues steadily up the east shoulder of Beaver Mountain. It crests on the route's highest point (3.75 miles : 9,217') and drops to a hitch rack (3.85 miles : 9,120'). The trail continues downhill through uniform lodgepole to a footbridge over Beaver Brook (4.7 miles : 8,715'). Once over it skirts an aspen studded meadow, one of many good places to find bear on this trail.
The trail climbs back into a thinning forest, which transitions back to ponderosa park and meadow at a sign for Deer Ridge Junction (6.15 miles : 8,532'). This completes the loop. Retrace your steps - a one mile, 400' climb - back to Deer Ridge Junction (7.15 miles : 8,930').
- N40 23.220 W105 36.592 — 0.0 miles : Deer Ridge Junction Trailhead
- N40 22.759 W105 36.422 — .65 miles : Bear right toward Beaver Meadows Trailhead
- N40 22.624 W105 36.472 — 1.0 miles : Bear left toward Beaver Meadows Trailhead
- N40 22.372 W105 36.845 — 1.55 miles : Beaver Meadows Trailhead
- N40 22.116 W105 36.850 — 1.9 miles : Bear right toward Ute Trail - Trail Ridge RD
- N40 21.670 W105 37.775 — 2.55 miles : Steady climb into mixed forest
- N40 21.615 W105 37.886 — 3.2 miles : Beaver Mountain Trail - Ute Trail split
- N40 21.900 W105 37.582 — 3.85 miles : Hitchrack - begin descent into lodgepole
- N40 22.450 W105 37.561 — 4.7 miles : Cross footbridge over Beaver Brook
- N40 22.781 W105 36.970 — 5.55 miles : Rolling travel back into ponderosa park
- N40 22.624 W105 36.472 — 6.15 miles : Turn left toward Deer Ridge Trailhead
- N40 23.219 W105 36.592 — 7.15 miles : Deer Ridge Junction Trailhead
- Its low elevation and eastern location within the park make this trail accessible year-round. The loop is an ideal winter choice for skiing and snowshoeing.
- Numerous aspen stands make this an especially nice autumn hike.
- For those not interested in hiking the entire loop, you may alternatively travel clockwise to the Upper Beaver Meadows Trailhead, then follow signs to Moraine Park - a flatter yet equally compelling route.
- The Beaver Meadows area is particularly rich in wildlife. Elk are seen year round, but especially in the fall and winter. This is also mountain lion habitat. Be mindful of your surroundings and avoid hiking or running alone.
Rules and Regulations
- Dogs are not permitted on any backcountry trail in Rocky Mountain National Park.
- Horses are permitted on the Beaver Mountain Trail.
Directions to Trailhead
The Deer Ridge Junction Trailhead is located 3.05 miles west of the Beaver Meadows Entrance Station along Trail Ridge Road (Highway 36). The trailhead is located on the north side of the road at the Trail Ridge Road - Highway 34 split. There is no designated lot, but roadside parking is permitted. Parking is limited.
Rocky Mountain National Park
1000 Highway 36
Estes Park, CO 80517-8397