Granite/Storm Pass Loop


By VFuel co-founder Michael Hodges

For those who are unfamiliar with our home stomping grounds, we get to play in Rocky Mountain National Park very often! One of the classic loops through the heart of the park is known as the Granite/Storm Pass Loop. There are a few variations you can choose from (main trails vs fire trails, Boulder Brook cutoff, etc...) that can vary the mileage a bit. We chose to climb the telephone trail (the old line the phone lines took to the Boulderfield shelters at the base of Longs Peak), and then cruise up through Granite Pass via Jim's Grove. The rest of the loop would be standard (Descend via North Longs Trail and return via the main/only Storm Pass Trail to start and end at the Longs Peak TH).

Granite PassThis version would be a kiss under 19 miles and offer about 5,000 feet of vertical gain. Not too steep but enough for a solid day out! We took our time, mainly because I'm in the process of getting back into shape due to a hiatus over the past 9 months, and simply enjoyed the day. It was cool and wet. A serious storm blew through the night before, at about 3:00am, leaving the trails soft, muddy, and puddled. The conditions were great and we got pretty wet hiking up through the overgrown telephone trail en route to Jim's Grove. We plugged away and were soon cruising up through the Grove on our way to Granite Pass. Once we hit the trail above Jim's Grove the wind slammed into us as per usual at the pass. It's notorious for high winds, especially in the winter. But it’s an exhilarating place. The kind of wildness we tend to seek out simply for the experience. Today wasn’t too bad, but noticeably more gusty than the rest of the trek to that point.

We enjoyed the views for a bit and were soon running down the North Longs Trail into Glacier Gorge. This trail is absolutely stunning. If you're running down it, make sure to stop and look behind you. The views of the Longs massif are spectacular! The views out in front of you aren't too shabby either. You can see the peaks strung along the divide and the Mummy Range to the north. 

Running along the Storm Pass TrailSoon enough, we crossed Glacier Creek and were headed down through the mobs of hikers on our way to the Storm Pass Trail. Once past the Glacier Gorge trail head, the crowds thin to just about nothing and it's a very enjoyable rolling descent to the base of the climb up Storm Pass. It was cool, shaded, lush, and exemplified the reason we love running in the mountains! The kind of trail that simply begs to be run... I think it would be impossible to hike it! 

We took our time heading up and it took about an hour to make the 4.5ish miles to the pass. A leisurely pace no doubt, but absolutely enjoyable and felt good to be moving for more than a few miles at a time. This marks my longest run since last September, so I was thrilled to simply get the distance in. 

Cruising down from Storm Pass to the Longs Peak Trail Head didn't take terribly long and we were soon enjoying a foot soak in the stream. Another wonderful day in the books!

If you’re ever in the area here in Estes Park and are looking for a nice loop, this is a wonderful option. Take the main Longs Peak Trail and it will push the mileage to 21ish and it’s relatively lower in altitude (tops out at 12,000 feet at Granite Pass – Storm Pass hits 10,200) than some of the other loops in the park.

Some of the gear used on the run (and in the video):
Gel: VFuel (of course) :)
Packs: Ultimate Direction PB Adventure Vest
Footwear: Altra Lone Peaks & Inov8 Roclite
Water Filter: SteriPEN Adventurer-Opti


Tags: endurance, mountain running, rocky mountain national park, trail running, vfuel

« Go Back