Despite the trail signs that suggest Mt. Ida is 4 miles to the summit, it’s a 9.6-mile round trip hike through Colorado’s beautiful Rocky Mountain National Park near Grand Lake. The trail starts at the Poudre Lake Trailhead at Milner Pass with a very well-defined, shaded trail with a few initial steep inclines – don’t get used to the shade though, it only lasts for about a mile. After that, you’re in open tundra (don’t forget your sunscreen!) with gorgeous views of the Never Summer Mountains nearly the entire time.
Since it’s a long hike, I decided to get started early and watch the sunrise in the park. I’ll be honest – I wasn’t thrilled when my alarm went off at 3am, but I’m always glad that I forced myself out of bed when I get to wake up with views like this!
While the trail is well-defined, there are game trails that are equally well-defined – DON’T BE FOOLED! After walking across an expansive, rocky flat, at about 3 miles into the hike, keep right at the cairn-marked fork and continue to keep an eye out for cairns to guide your way. The trail becomes a bit tricky to follow, and sort of disappears for a while, but it’s still very obvious where the hike is going – up! The grass up at these high elevations is quite delicate, so be sure to tread lightly and step on rock whenever possible.
Finally, you’ll come to a rock-covered uphill climb for your final ascent! Be careful when stepping on a new rock, as many of them are loose. The peak is just a small rocky area atop the Continental Divide, but you’ll have panoramic views of the Never Summer Range (west), and Gorge Lakes basin (east), and as you walk around the summit you’ll see Highest Lake, Azure Lake, Inkwell Lake, Arrowhead Lake and the glaciers that fill them.
And the marmots up here definitely know that people mean food, but please don’t feed them! It trains them to depend on humans, and makes it harder for them to learn to forage. They’re cute, yes, but just admire them – don’t feed them.