Hidden Lakes press

Hidden Lakes Press

Information for Recreation in Colorado and the Rockies

Flat Tops Wilderness Trails

The only complete guide to the Flat Tops Wilderness Area. Updated with information on recent fires and impact on traveling. Covering about 267 square miles, it's the second largest wilderness in the Colorado. The guide includes descriptions of all roads and trails in the area. Illustrated with photos and maps. Also covers the history of the Flat Tops, wildlife, flora, climate, along with GPS coordinates for each trail. Complete with listing of lodges and services for the area. Published in 2007 by Hidden Lakes Press, Evergreen, CO. 190 pages, $15.95.

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The wilderness is unique. It compares with no other mountain range in the state. Only the Columbia Plateau of the Pacific Northwest is similar. There are no tall spires, no fourteeners found in the Flat Tops. Rather, it is a massive block of rock pushed upward and planed level, its surface punctured here and there with rare peaks rising a thousand feet above the high plateau.

The land doesn't challenge you the way other mountain ranges will. There are few steep-sided peaks. At an average elevation near eleven thousand feet, it doesn't starve you of oxygen as climbing a fourteener would. Still, the second largest wilderness in the state challenges. A visitor could spend a season and not hike every path.

From a distance, the Flat Tops Wilderness lives up to its name. Traveling along State Highway 131, between the communities of Toponos and Yampa, you view the plateau to the west, appearing nearly flat. Here and there, incisions were made in the massive block, formed by stresses deep within the Earth during the formation of the Rocky Mountains. Rivers and creeks that drain the land enlarged and deepened the cuts.

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