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Loveland Loop

September 1, 1996
Arapaho National Forest
Starting Elevation:
11,992 feet
Highest Elevation:
12,752 feet
Distance (round trip):
~ 8 miles
This hike is one of those that I consider very easy to get to from Denver, Colorado. I started around noon from the top of Loveland Pass at 11,992 feet. I left my car at the top of the pass and began by following the Continental Divide to the southwest. After less than a mile of hiking (the divide had turned to the north) I found myself facing a notch in the ridge that was probably several hundred feet deep. This was the most challenging part of this hike. Be careful as you scramble down this slope to the west. There is no trail (other than a goat trail) but the slope is still very doable and this notch separates those that really want to be there from the tourists that had wandered from their cars.

On the other side of this gully was a steep slope with good footing for the climb to a summit (name?) at 12,752 feet. Below me and to the north was the Loveland Basin Ski Area. A-Basin Ski Area, Keystone and Breckenridge (Dick-n-Marge (a local seldom-used nickname)) were to the southwest and south-southwest respectively.

From this summit I followed the divide alternatively descending and ascending small peaks along the ridge. I continued for several miles as it turned north over Interstate 70 and the Eisenhower tunnel ( Cool ). Throughout the trek, Loveland Basin was in the valley below me on my right - hence my name for this hike - and my way outta there.

Where the divide begins to head northeast, I chose to begin my travels back towards my car as it was now a good three miles from me in a straight line or about 5 miles by hiking. I headed down the ridge that defines Loveland Basin on the northeast (by Chair 6 (?) - the Zip Chair) and continued my walk south back towards I-70. As I began my descent in to the ski area from the southern-most point on the ridge I traveled through a beautiful park - complete with Mule Deer - the only wildlife encountered on this trip other than Pica and Whistlepigs (Marmots). I was somewhat familiar with this area as I had traversed the lower portion of the previous ridge many times before (I swear - there were no Ski Area Boundary signs) while chasing untracked powder on skis. Once I was back at the bottom of the ski area I was still on the wrong side of I-70 so I used the skiers tunnel to cross the highway back to where I crossed the parking lot to hitch-hike my way back to my car.

Talk about a small world ... I was picked up by a man and a woman from the Lincoln Park area of Chicago and they happened to be friends with one of my close friends who also lives in Chicago! What a coincidence!

Overall, this was an easy hike with several small climbs but really more of a high elevation walk. It proved to be quite isolated once I got past the notch in the ridge so if you can make it past the notch, you, like me, may have the Continental Divide to yourself for several hours!
Along on this hike with me: no one.