Ypsilon Mountain
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Ypsilon Chiquita Chapin Mountain Hike Scramble- RMNP Colorado

As of 2022 I became aware that RMNP has a new set of restrictions and fees that one needs to review.


There is a new "timed entry system" from May 27 to October 22, 2022 and the usual park pass requirements etc If you've never been there I would recommend jumping through the new hoops to enter a couple of times. There is lots of other cool mountain exploration in Colorado for the longer time outdoor people.


The three peaks from the east side

The three peaks from the west side

The Old Fall River road - all one way to the Alpine Visitor center

A nice section of the Old Fall River road, has that Christmas feel

The Chapin Pass trailhead, limited parking so best to arrive early

After only a few minutes up the trail you make a right hand turn here

Some rocky steps and rugged terrain

More trail with the west side of Mount Chapin in view

Trail skirts above a meadow on the way to an intersection

Both trails go to the Mount Chiquita Mount Chapin saddle but I prefer the right one as you gain a bit of altitude then traverse the west flank of Chapin to the saddle. The left trail drops a bit into a large meadow then up to the same saddle. Some people go off trail on the traverse, up to Chapin's west summit although the east summit directly from the saddle is a bit higher.

Near the end of the traverse on a good trail the saddle comes into view

Looking back at the saddle and the traverse from the start up the slopes of Chiquita.

A view of the slopes to ascend Mount Chiquita

Heading up Mount Chiquita on a faint trail

On the summit of Mount Chiquita our hand out seeking Marmot made himself available for photos

Looking down from Mount Chiquita to the Chiquita / Ypsilon saddle, have to lose a bit of altitude here.

A look up the slopes of Ypsilon Mountain

Looking back at the summit of Mount Chiquita from the saddle

Spectacle Lakes below the rugged east face of Ypsilon Mountain

Another view of Spectacle Lakes

Yours truly on the summit of Ypsilon Mountain with about 5 other people taking each others summit photos

Nice view of Mt. Richthofen to the north west

Nice views to the west of the Never Summer range of which Mt. Richthofen is at the northern end of it.

View to the north and slightly east is Fairchild Mountain

Some cool cloud formations as we were chased off the summit with impending dark clouds. Did a low traverse around Chiquita but the feared storm dissipated so all ended well.

Traversing back on Chapin some cool looking mashed potato clouds started to come over Ypsilon and Chiquita

From the traverse on Chapin you can see the Alpine Visitor Center at the end of the Old Fall River road where the pavement begins again.

Nice Cafe and lots of souvenirs to look over.

Nice visitor center with books, maps and park rangers and staff you can talk with.

The Trail Ridge Road on the way back to Estes Park from the Alpine Visitor Center. Keep your eyes on the road! Stop at the pullouts if you want to view the scenery. You are at around 12,000 feet.

Just cool scenery, love those clouds!

Ah yes, don't do this without professional planning :)

Ypsilon Chiquita Chapin Mountain Hike Scramble - RMNP Colorado

Scramble: Class 1 up to the Chiquita Chapin saddle, Class 2 after that

Altitude: 13,514 ft, Trailhead 10,640 ft

Elevation Gain: 3,400 ft approx with up and down for Ypsilon / Chiquita col, Round trip 7.0 miles

Start Time: 6am to 8am to be on your way down by noon and avoid potential lightning storms

Ascent Time: 3 Hours + or -


Ypsilon from the east side is a rugged distinctive looking mountain with a Y shaped couloir. However from the west side itís a high alpine hike over open tundra on easy slopes. Very scenic as most of the hike is above tree line. But keep an eye on the weather as it is a lot of traversing of open slopes to escape a storm. I recommend including Chiquita Mountain on the way at 13,069 ft, Chapin Mountain is more optional at 12,454 ft. After this you can visit the Alpine Visitor Center and be a tourist. Lots of souvenirs to choose from in both buildings.

Getting There

Chapin Pass Trailhead on Old Fall River Road Ė 10,640 ft Ė No restrooms

RMNP provides a good map of the park on their web site as well as well as on paper. Chapin Pass Trailhead is on a 9 mile section of narrow gravel road called Old Fall River Road that only opens for a narrow season of use. In 2011 it opened at the end of July, beginning of August. From highway 34 to the Fall River Entrance Station its only 4 miles to the start of the gravel road. From the south entrance on highway 36 called Beaver Meadows Entrance Station it is only 7 miles to the start of the gravel road. Parking is limited to perhaps 10 vehicles so get there early. Parking is along the edge of the road opposite the trailhead sign. From the Beaver Meadows south entrance take a right hand turn after about 3 miles and follow this road with Ypsilonís east face looming in front of you. Another approx 3 miles and you take a left hand turn onto Old Fall River Road. It is paved for a bit but this soon turns to gravel. From the Fall River north entrance itís about 2 miles and a right hand turn onto Old Fall River Road.

The Old Fall River Road is only a one way and continues for a further couple of miles to the Alpine Visitor Center where you catch the two way paved Trail Ridge Road back east to Estes Park. A very scenic loop to say the least. Best to have a vehicle with some clearance for the gravel road but most vehicles should be able to make it if careful on the ruts at the switchbacks. Generally no guardrails so keep your eyes on the road.


There are 3 major campgrounds on the east side of RMNP if you donít require showers or laundry. Aspenglen (elevation 8,220 ft) 54 sites, Glacier Basin (elevation 8,500 ft) 150 sites and Moraine Park (elevation 8,160 ft) 245 sites. $20/night when the water is on.

The place I recommend is Elk Meadow Lodge and RV Resort (elevation 7,468 ft) which is just over a mile from the Beaver Meadows Entrance Station. Approximately $30/night for a tent site but includes free showers and has laundry facilities. A good base to enter the park easily and also only a couple of miles to the main street of Estes Park.


Estes Park Campground at Maryís Lake and East Portal Reservoir are also possibilities with showers not sure about laundry though.



Route Description

Head up the trail beside the Chapin Pass trailhead sign and in only a few minutes there is a sign pointing to the right for the trail to Ypsilon. Take this trail as it heads through the trees with a few stone staircase sections. It climbs through a few rocky bluff type sections with the grassy hump in the back being Chapin. As you round a corner from a meadow section the trail divides at the sign which points to the trail to the right saying "All Summits Trail Not Maintained Beyond This Point". Both trails go to the Chiquita / Chapin saddle at just over 12,000 ft. The left trail drops a bit and goes through a large meadow then up to the saddle. The right trail climbs up a bit then traverses along Chapinís west flank to the same saddle. I prefer the right hand trail as you donít lose any elevation to get to the saddle.

From the Chiquita / Chapin saddle you can make a quick dash up Chapin if all the summits is your goal. Then back at the saddle begin your climb up to the summit of Chiquita at 13,069 ft. It has a good windbreak and a nice spot to stop for a snack before you contemplate dropping down to the Chiquita / Ypsilon saddle at around 12,800 ft and then the climb up to the farthest of the three points of Ypsilon. Return the same way although if weather is threatening you can traverse the west side of Chiquita lower down and make it to the Chiquita / Chapin saddle. Then you could take the trail down through the meadow to lose further elevation quickly rather than the traverse along Chapinís west flank.