Flattop Mountain – 8.8mi / 14.2km
Aptly named Flattop Mountain doesn’t have the typical summit top, but it’s high, rounded expanse of alpine meadows delivers flora, fauna, and views.
Immediately after leaving the trailhead, you’ll walk along the eastern shoreline of Bear Lake with Hallett Peak standing tall over the beautiful lake. Just past the lake, take a right at the junction and climb up through a gorgeous stand of aspen protruding from a boulder field. Along the way you’ll get views to the south, including Longs Peak.
Follow the signs to the left as you continue climbing up on Bierstadt Moraine where the grade gradually eases and enters the lodgepole pine forest. Follow the signs left once again as the trail begins the long climb up the mountain. Views are scant and the switchbacks are many. An eagle-eye view looking down on Dream Lake opens up giving you a great place to catch your breath.
Not long after the overlook, you begin emerging from the trees as you transition into boulder fields and alpine meadows. Marmots and pikas are easy to spot through this area while the camouflaged White-tailed Ptarmigan can only be found by the lucky and patient. As the trail approaches the summit, it nears the cliffy south side of the mountain, giving you impressive views of a string of summits, starting with Hallett Peak. The unceremonious, rounded summit is denoted by a sign.
For a bonus, continue down the trail an additional 0.3mi/0.5km west for dramatic views looking down into the Tourmaline Gorge before heading back.
Trailhead: Follow Bear Lake Road to the Bear Lake Trailhead, or park at the Park & Ride and take the park’s free shuttle to the trailhead.
Elevation Gain: 2,900ft / 870m – Elevation Loss: 2,900ft / 870m