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The Three Passes
Area/Range

The Three Passes

 
The Three Passes

Page Type: Area/Range

Location: Colorado, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 40.51191°N / 105.65032°W

Object Title: The Three Passes

Activities: Hiking

Season: Summer

Elevation: 11600 ft / 3536 m

 

Page By: CSUMarmot

Created/Edited: Aug 16, 2010 / Aug 16, 2010

Object ID: 650163

Hits: 2115 

Page Score: 75.81%  - 6 Votes 

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Overview

The Three Passes Area
From Skull Point
The three passes, Mummy, Icefield and Flint, create a triangular section of land that can be traversed en route to several destinations. The area these passes demarcate form roughly a right triangle, with Flint being directly south of Mummy and directly west of Icefield. The approximately 240 acres of terrain is homogenous, consisting of water and willows. Any route you take through this area will be wet, as this is the basin that collects water for the South Fork of the Cache La Poudre River. The willows are tall and relentless; they provide great cover for moose, elk and deer, and hide channels and rivulets of the muskeg below the branches. It is quite easy to literally find yourself in a quagmire in a quagmire. The highest and most scenic pass, Icefield Pass, and the broadest, lowest pass, Mummy Pass, are usually used as bases to jump off to other peaks and mountains in their proximity. Flint Pass is the smallest and least visited pass as it is usually just a side trip from the other passes.

Getting There

The three passes can be reached via the Mummy Pass Trail, starting either from the Emmaline Lake TH or the Corral Creek TH, or from across Sugarloaf Mountain via Stormy Peaks Pass. The trek across Sugarloaf Mountain down to Icefield Pass is the most scenic and rewarding of the routes to the three passes, and can be combined with the Mummy Pass Trail to take you in a loop back to Pingree Park.

The Routes

Aprox. Routes
Aprox. Routes

Icefield to Flint: Icefield Pass sits adjacent to two large ice fields, hence the name, at an elevation of around 11900’. Flint Pass sits about 300’ lower and 1.5 miles directly west, forming a pass between the NW slope of Rowe Mountain and some small points to the north. The route can be just a line of sight affair west, staying in the transition area between the rocky talus slopes of Rowe Mountain and the thick waves of willows below it. However, you can head for a small grassy ridge about halfway to Flint Pass, which offers a nice break from the rocks and willow thickets, by following some well used game trails that snake through the area. From this grassy ridge, the willows to the west become thinner and more passable, but the area becomes marshier. Head west until you top out on the remote Flint Pass.

Flint to Mummy: Mummy Pass is the largest but most indistinct of the three passes and sits about a half mile north and 400’ below Flint Pass. Luckily, if you skirt the rocky points along the way, you can avoid walking through the willows and wetlands. Once in the general area of Mummy Pass, keep a sharp eye out for the Mummy Pass Trail. This trail is in probably the worst shape of any trail in RMNP as it is mostly trampled grass that looks less distinct than many of the animal trails that you have ever seen. When you finally discover the actual trail, please take care to tear up the trail as much as possible, it’s the only way we can regain it as the NPS seems passive about maintaining it themselves.

Icefield to Mummy: Head west through the willows as if you were going to Flint Pass following game trails or any way you please to the grassy bench about halfway to Flint Pass. This grassy bench will become your best friend as it leads in an almost direct route to Mummy Pass and avoids all willows and wetness until you have to cross the tributaries to the South Fork of the Cache La Poudre River. Watch closely for the Mummy Pass trail as it is extremely easy to confuse with an animal trail or miss all together.

If you were only going to look at one picture

Three Passes Routes
Orange is Icefield/Flint Yellow is Flint/Mummy Red is Icefield/Mummy

Red Tape

Depending on how you get to the passes, you may be hiking through the Comanche Peak Wilderness,so it would be in your best interest to follow the regulations. The section of the trail to the RMNP boundary is non-motorized.

Comanche Peak Regs

This area has little to no cover and is entirely above treeline, so you will want to start early

Don't like wet shoes? Bring an extra pair, they will be soaked by the time you escape the willows.

External Links

Mummy Pass Trail
Another Mummy Pass Trail description
A little about Flint Pass

Camping

The nearest campgrounds are at Long Draw and Tom Bennet, niether accept reservations. The nearest backcountry campsites are at Stormy Peaks and Mummy Pass Creek, each are about 3 miles from these passes.

Images