FKT: Frederic Bard - Rocky Mountain Grand Loop (CO) - 2020-07-17

Route variation
Standard route
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
13h 42m 25s

Today, Friday 07/17/2020 at 3.42am, I have run The Rocky Mountain Grand Loop in a time of 13h42m25s. (see attached picture for a summary of this activity with also my splits)

I have run it unsupported and only stopped at streams/lakes to refill my water supply.

Though I battled stomach issues until Flattop Mountain and did some navigation mistakes despite having done those sections before, it went pretty well in the end and I am very happy to finish with a sub-14h time. Given the fact that I had been scouting and preparing this route for the last 2 years, it was good to be familiar with the full route especially considering the amount of off-trail navigation from 4th lake all the way to the top of Longs Peak.

I discovered this beautiful route 2 years ago through Mr McDonald backpacker article Full Circle: The Rocky Mountain Grand Loop ( and book Longs Peak: The Story of Colorado's Favorite Fourteener  (…), narrating the story of Mr Cook and Mr Zumwalt hiking from the Boulderfield hut to Grand Lake and back to the hut in 24h.

While I wanted to test myself on this route, I also wanted to reconstitute as much as possible the original route set by Hull Cook and Clerin Zumwalt and retrace their steps. Unlike Mark Oveson in 2012 that ran it clock-wise, I ran it counter clock-wise like Guy Love who ran it very recently but I added a twist to it. On top of this original/historical CCW direction, my idea was to start at the estimated location of the former Boulderfield Shelter Cabin, a two-story stone hut at 12,750 feet, in the early 1930s, where the two gentlemen started. To accomplish this, I parked at the Longs Peak Ranger station trailhead and hiked from it at 1.43AM and also hiked back down to my car after having completed the loop (Overall, it added about 12 miles of hiking and 3,000ft gain/loss. I am not sure that it changes this FKT route into a different category but I wanted to make sure I mention this detail as it add more than 10 miles and 3,000ft to the Rocky Mountain Grand Loop that I measured of 45 miles and about 12,000ft gain/loss. It makes for a big day !

I started the Rocky Mountain Grand Loop close to the current campsite (see attached photo called Start-Finish.jpg) in the BoulderField as Mr McDonald confirmed in an email exchange that it is close to the old location of the hut

P.S. Yes, the old cabin was very close to the current campsite in the Boulderfield. If you want to retrace their steps, you'd be just fine starting and finishing at that campsite.


This route deserves to gain in popularity (and not just in the trail running community) as it is a beautiful loop that would give anyone much of what is to see in Rocky Mountain National Park. It encompasses being below and above timberline, on smooth and technical single track trails, up a gnarly, steep, chossy couloir and bushwacking. The route goes through lakes and offers lots of access to fresh water. On top of it, it includes summiting a 14er in the last 1.5 miles of the route !


I realized afterwards that I forgot to put my FKT's Strava link