Hiking Twin Sisters near Estes Park, CO

I thought I was going to die but I made it to the summit.

Hiking Twin Sisters near Estes Park, CO
Standing at the top of Twin Sisters peak ©James Dalman

I recently shared a post about hiking in Sedona, Arizona, and I mentioned that the story about hiking Twin Sisters was a story for another time — I figured I’d go ahead and share that story. ;)

In the fall of 2022, we spent a good amount of time (about 6 weeks total) in Estes Park, Colorado, and just fell in love with the area. We are owners with Diamond Resorts (now owned by Hilton Vacation Club) and we have a number of resorts around the world where we can choose to go and use points to book our stay. We’d been watching and waiting to get a good deal at Historic Crags Lodge in Estes Park and things finally went our way and we were able to book a total of 6 weeks. We were thrilled!

View of Historic Crags from our trip on the Aerial Tramway ©Donetta Dalman
View of Historic Crags from our trip on the Aerial Tramway ©Donetta Dalman

Anyway, while we were there, we really got to know several of the staff well and visited with them quite a bit. (Hello to Barb, Bob, Sharon, Aki, Steve, and Rose Mary!) One day we were visiting with Bob and talking about fun hiking adventures and he told us he loves hiking Twin Sisters and that we should definitely go do that hike. I use the AllTrails app (which I HIGHLY recommend) so I looked up that trail and thought — this guy is crazy! I can’t do that. It’s rated as “hard” and it’s 7.4 miles. We had never done a hard trail and the longest hike we’d ever done at that point was right about 5 miles. I’m no spring chicken (I was 50 at this time) so I didn’t want to attempt something that’s too hard. haha!

But Bob convinced us that it wasn’t a bad one at all and that it was worth it. He said he hikes the trail a couple of times a week. (And I should mention that he told us he was in his early 60s so I’m thinking if he’s older than me and says it’s not bad, maybe it’s okay.) Let me just say that AFTER we did this hike and came back and told Barb about it, she couldn’t believe he told us to do that hike and said that was a crazy suggestion! :P Bob is obviously in WAY better shape. ;)

James, Bob, and me in the yard at Historic Crags Lodge ©James Dalman
James, Bob, and me in the yard at Historic Crags Lodge ©James Dalman

From what I’d seen, the average hiking time for this trail is about 4–5 hours but of course that very much depends on many factors so that’s a good guess at most. Since we knew it would be a longer day than usual for us, we did carry plenty of water plus we packed a meal and snacks so that we had the fuel we needed to accomplish the task.

It’s a good thing we did because I am obviously not average and we did NOT finish this hike in 4–5 hours. In fact, it was just over SEVEN hours from the very start to arriving back at our truck. We hiked 8.5 miles total and had an elevation gain of 2,234 feet and reached the summit at 11,399 ft. It was quite. a. climb!! lol!

We started the day early and were on the trail by 7am and we said later we were SO thankful we didn’t wait any later in the day to get started since it took us all day long! Not to mention, we didn’t have to worry about getting too hot because it was 32º when we started!

This hike was incredibly hard and challenging and was a pretty big incline the whole way up. We’d come around a corner and I’d think we were almost there and then I’d see the path and realize we had so far to go still. At one point James asked if I needed to stop and turn around but there was NO WAY I was going to spend that much of my day and give that much energy to something and NOT finish it so we kept going all the way to the top.

As a side note, I have to give a quick shout out to my husband because, while this was a challenge for him as well and he was sore and exhausted by the end just like I was, he is SO much more skilled and is always quicker and able to climb inclines much easier than I am. But he is ALWAYS so patient and hikes at my pace and never makes me feel bad for being slower and having a harder time on the hard spots. Sometimes I feel guilty like I’m holding him back but he always reassures me and points out that it’s about enjoying the journey and it’s not about how fast we go. Which is so true. It’s not a race at all.

We arrived at the summit a little before noon so we sat at the top and enjoyed the views, had our snack/lunch, and rested for awhile. I can tell you that I’m not sure I’ve ever felt so accomplished and so proud of myself as I was reaching that summit. It just goes to show how strong we can be and what we can achieve when we push ourselves further than we think we’re capable of going.

Even though coming down was easier than going up, when you’ve been hiking all day and you’ve gone that many miles, even going down a mountain is hard. Especially when you’re old and you have bad knees. :P Thank goodness for my hiking poles!! Those help so much. The last couple of miles (or more! haha!) we had to keep chanting to ourselves that we were going to get BBQ at the end at Smokin’ Dave’s BBQ — our favorite restaurant in Estes Park. We had to have something positive to think about to get ourselves down that mountain without keeling over and being stuck there forever. (And by “we” I mostly mean me. lol!)

We did finally make it back to our truck mid-afternoon and we threw our gear in and took off for BBQ. We were SO ready to sit and eat a great meal. After sitting in the truck for only the 10–15 minutes it took to get to the restaurant, it was hard to get out and walk! haha! We were SO sore! In fact, it took a couple of days of literally lying around in our room and not doing much moving at all to recover. It was a killer! ;)

But in the end, it was so worth it. Would I do it again? Absolutely not. haha! But I’m SO glad I did it that day. The views were incredible! And I accomplished something I never would have dreamed I would be able to do and I’m so proud of myself for that.