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Review: "Hiking Rocky Mountain National Park" guide book 

click to enlarge Hiking Rocky Mountain National Park: The Essential Guide by Erik Stensland
  • Hiking Rocky Mountain National Park: The Essential Guide by Erik Stensland
Erik Stensland hiked many miles of Rocky Mountain National Park on his way to being recognized as one of its premier photographers. He still hikes between 600 and 1,200 miles in RMNP every year. Now, he has used his experience on the trails, and his beautiful images, to create the comprehensive Hiking Rocky Mountain National Park: The Essential Guide.

(Disclosure: The author of this article is an acquantance of the book's author from their work as landscape photographers.)

The book details 75 trails in the park, and although he may have hiked them many times, Stensland hiked each again in a single year prior to publishing the book, to make sure the information was up-to-date.  The trails are broken down in the book by level of difficulty: handicapped accessible, easy, moderate and strenuous. Each trail in any specific section is more difficult than the one before it. For example, the first trail listed in the "moderate" section will be an easier trail than the trail listed after it, etc.

Since many trails in RMNP start at just a handful of trailheads, the book features a section with details about each trailhead, eliminating the need to constantly repeat trailhead information throughout the book. Stensland also cross-references hikes that are loops or one-way (out and back), hikes that feature lakes or waterfalls or wildflowers, hikes to summits, hikes to see wildlife or historical sites, and also which hikes to do based on the season. Regardless of what criteria you might use to choose which trail to hike, the book makes it easy for hikers to choose the right trail.

Each trail is described with an overview of the hike, trail statistics such as length, elevation gain, etc, waypoints, a detailed description of the hike and also a simple topographic map showing the hike. 

At almost 500 pages, it is a big, heavy book, but Stensland offers a smaller guide featuring 20 of his favorite trails, and the book is also available in a Kindle e-book version. Stensland also suggests that the reader can simply photograph the pages for the hike they are doing, and carry the information in their phone.  A companion website, hikingrocky.com, features corrections and updates to the book.

Punctuated with Stensland's renowned photography, the book is as visually appealing as it is informative. I believe this hiking guidebook is as comprehensive as any hiker or backpacker could wish for, and will become the standard for hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park for years to come. It's available May 3rd from Stensland's website, or from Amazon.

Other guide books for Rocky Mountain National Park include Falcon Guide's Best Easy Day Hikes Rocky Mountain National Park, published in 2014 and Best Hikes Rocky Mountain National Park, published in 2015.

The Colorado Springs Parks Department is looking for volunteers for its Trails, Open Spaces and Parks (TOPS) Working Committee. Interested parties can apply until May 15th at ( https://coloradosprings.gov/parks/page/tops-working-committee) .


Be good. Do good things.

Bob Falcone, a retired firefighter, is a photographer, hiker, and business owner who has lived in Colorado Springs for 27 years and is also a part time desert rat. He is chair of the El Paso County Parks Advisory Board, a member of the Colorado Springs TOPS Working Committee, and is a former president of the Friends of Cheyenne CaƱon. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.

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