Horsetooth Peak Overview
Horsetooth Peak is located on the eastern border of Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) in the shadow of Longs Peak and Mount Meeker. While traveling south on HWY 7 out of Estes Park, one gets their first view of Horsetooth near the Longs Peak view pullout. It is also easily seen from Meeker Park. Horsetooth Peak is an impressive peak from both of these viewpoints.
The rocky summit juts out of a sea of trees near the terminus of Meeker Ridge (Meeker's SE ridge). It is often overlooked by both general tourist and climbers due to its location. When I visited the summit on April 8, 2004, not a single name was in the summit log since it was placed there 4 months earlier.
Nearly all of the climb is on a good trail through thick trees which allows even the casual hiker to get near the summit. Along the trail there are increadible views of the massive east face of Mount Meeker. The last few hundred feet are a different story. It consist of lots of scrambling followed by about 30 of class 4 or 5 climbing to reach the summit. There appeared to be numerous options with all looking about the same difficulty. Be sure not to climb up anything that you wouldn't want to down climb.
Getting To The Trailhead
If your only objective is Horsetooth Peak, there is only one viable starting point. The closed Meeker Park Lodge is located in where else? Meeker Park. Meeker Park can be reached from the North by traveling south on HWY 7 from Estes Park. Direclty across the highway from the lodge is Boulder County RD 113N. Don't confuse this with 113S which is only a few hundred yards to the south. There is a sign with the road number and also one that reads Deadend Road. Don't worry, this is the right one.
Follow the road for just under a mile as it passes many private cabins. There are no signs leading to the trailhead but the main road is obvious. Please respect the private land in the area. The trailhead has a small NP sign marking the start. The parking area is only large enough for two or three cars. From the trailhead there is an easy to follow trail to the Lookout Mountain/Horsetooth Peak saddle.
Access may be difficult in winter because the road is not plowed. If this is the case, one can always park in Meeker Park and walk the extra distance over the relatively flat road.
can also be climbed in conjunction with Horsetooth by following the Lookout's northeast ridge from the saddle.
A more difficult yet adventurous option is to climb Lookout first from the Wild Basin area by bushwhacking over it's summit and down to the Lookout/Horsetooth saddle and then on to the summit. When returning from Horsetooth you can either have a car shuttle at the Meeker Park TH or do a descending traverse across the upper east slopes of Lookout back to the Sandbeach Lake trail in Wild Basin.
Although the peak is located inside Rocky Mountain National Park, there are no permits or fees for hiking only. One must still observe park rules and regulations which can be found here
When To Climb
The peak can be climbed year around but is most easily climbed when snow levels are low. Due the the lack of visitors to the area, the trail will not likely be packed out during winter. The summit block is substantially more serious when covered with snow.
There are no designated camping sites in the immediate area but details on backcountry camping can be found here
Local Weather And Conditions
Mountain conditions can be found by contacting RMNP
as well as the Colorado Mountain School website