Long Meadows, Timber Creek Trailhead, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Long Meadows - 7.6 miles
Timber Creek Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||7.6 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||9,042' - 10,452' (10,452' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+1,410' net elevation gain (+1,652' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Long Meadows - 7.6 Miles Round-Trip
Long Meadows is accessible from Timber Creek Trailhead on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park. The Timber Lake Trail runs 3.25 miles through diverse forests to the Long Meadows Trail, which turns south through dark timber into the meadow.
Long Meadows stretches approximately two uninterrupted miles from Timber Creek (north) to Onahu Creek (south), making it one of the longest and most isolated meadows in the Park's interior mountains.
Note that the Long Meadows Trail is unmaintained and fades in this big expanse, and basic map-reading and navigation skills may be needed to reclaim the trail.
The Timber Lake Trail curls south through an aspen-lodgepole forest highlighted by arnica, kinnickinnick, columbine, and fallen timber. It rises steadily across a steep N-S hillside to a stream that feeds the Colorado River (.65 miles : 9,108'). Gaps in the forest offer partial views of the Never Summer Range (west).
The trail keeps a steady S-SE heading to the Timber Creek backcountry campsite (3.05 miles : 10,185'), and bends east to meet Timber Creek at the Long Meadows Trail split (3.25 miles : 10,225').
The Long Meadows Trail turns south and undulates beneath notably tall columns of spruce and fir. Despite its unmaintained classification and some negotiable deadfall, the trail is actually quite easy to follow.
The path fades and grades level on the north edge of Long Meadows (3.8 miles : 10,452'). Here cross-country travel begins in the meadow, or along its east fringe. This fungible, sloping meadow draws moisture into a thin but deep stream that oxbows down the valley center.
Long Meadows run nearly two miles south and downhill to another unimproved trail that connects the south end with the Onahu Creek Trail (see map). Patience and map skills are necessary to pick up this unimproved trail.
While x-country travel in the open meadow is easy, navigation is appreciably difficult in the adjacent forest. It's important to mark your entry-exit point to the meadow before venturing off the unmaintained trail, as it can be difficult to find on the return.
- N40 23.993 W105 50.834 — 0.0 miles : Timber Creek Trailhead
- N40 23.667 W105 50.491 — .65 miles : Cross over cascade on bridge
- N40 23.403 W105 50.605 — 1.0 miles : Steady climb through lodgepole and aspen
- N40 23.010 W105 50.485 — 2.0 miles : Transition from montane to subalpine forest
- N40 22.487 W105 49.827 — 2.5 miles : Southeast heading across steep hillside
- N40 22.240 W105 49.314 — 3.05 miles : Timber Creek Backcountry Campsite spur
- N40 22.229 W105 49.088 — 3.25 miles : Long Meadows Trail junction
- N40 21.932 W105 49.399 — 3.8 miles : Northeast edge of Long Meadows
- Small streams running north-south through the meadow create significantly marshy conditions in some areas; expect damp conditions in the meadow.
- Excellent trail choice when seeking solitude during busy summer months.
- Long Meadows can also be reached from the Onahu Creek Trailhead (approximately 8.9 miles roundtrip).
Camping and Backpacking Information
Backcountry Camping in Rocky Mountain National Park
- A permit is required for all backcountry camping in Rocky Mountain National Park. Permits may be obtained from the Beaver Meadows Visitors Center Backcountry Office, or the Kawuneeche Visitor Center at Grand Lake. Day-of-trip permits may be obtained in-person, year round.
- There's a $26 fee to backcountry camp in Rocky Mountain National Park (May 1 - October 31). This administrative fee covers each party (defined as an individual or group) for the duration of the trip. Note that park entrance fees are applied separately and in full.
Timber Creek Backcountry Campsite
- The Timber Creek campsite is located 3.1 miles from the Timber Creek Trailhead at 10,250'. There are 2 sites available, located 200' south off the Timber Lake Trail on a well-marked spur. The sites are in a mixed pine forest between the trail and Timber Creek. Water is accessible year-round from the creek.
Jack Straw Backcountry Campsites: #1 - #2
- The Jack Straw campsites are located .15 miles apart along the edge of Jack Straw Meadow. The sites are located 4.1 and 4.25 miles from the trailhead at 10,795' and 10,855' (respectively). The first is situated in a thin forest across Timber Creek on the west edge of the meadow, the second is in a thin forest above the north edge. Each has access to a privy. Water is accessible year-round from Timber Creek.
Rockslide Backcountry Campsite
- The Rockslide campsite is located 4.6 miles from the Timber Creek Trailhead at 10,960'. There is one site available, located on an open, talus-strewn slope on the north side of the trail. Water is accessible year-round from Timber Creek , Timber Lake and several nearby tributaries.
Snowbird Backcountry Campsite
- The Snowbird campsite is located 4.65 miles from the Timber Creek Trailhead at 11,015'. There are two sites available. The sites are located in a sparsely wooded rocky meadow north of the trail, concealed from it by a small ridge. Water is accessible year-round from Timber Creek and nearby tributaries.
- Wood signs mark campsites, which may also be marked by red arrowheads on trees. Pitch tents as close to indicated sites as possible, safely away from standing dead trees. Boil or treat all water. Stoves only. Fires are prohibited. Permits are required for all overnight stays in Rocky Mountain National Park.
- A valid Colorado fishing license is required to fish in Rocky Mountain National Park.
- Only catch and release fishing is permitted in Timber Creek, Timber Lake, and their tributaries.
Rules and Regulations
- A $20 Day Use Fee is required to enter Rocky Mountain National Park (or $30 for a 7 Day Pass).
- Dogs are not permitted on hiking trails in Rocky Mountain National Park.
- Horses are not permitted on the unimproved trail leading to Long Meadows.
Directions to Trailhead
Long Meadows is accessed from the Timber Creek Trailhead on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park.
The Timber Creek Trailhead is located on Trail Ridge Road, 30.2 miles west of the Beaver Meadows Entrance Station (east entrance), and 9.2 miles north of the Kawuneeche Entrance Station (southwest entrance). The Timber Creek Trailhead is located 71 miles north of the I-70 Winter Park exit.
Rocky Mountain National Park