Tundra World Toll Memorial Trail (aka Tundra Communities Trail) is an out-and-back, one-mile hike across alpine tundra meadows off Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park. The 0.5-mile trail, also called Toll Memorial Trail and Tundra Nature Trail, explores the land above the trees. Summer, the best time to hike the short trail, offers an explosion of delicate wildflowers, including Indian paintbrush, alpine sunflowers, alpine avens, bistort, and forget-me-nots. The wheelchair-accessible trail, beginning at 12,110 feet and climbing to 12,304 feet, crosses open tundra, a high land of extreme wind, cold, snow, and a short growing season. Points of interest along the trail are the Mushroom Rocks, viewpoints of Longs Peak and the Continental Divide, wildlife including elk and marmots, and the Toll Memorial at the end of the trail.
- The Tundra Communities Trail begins at a large parking area at Rock Cut alongside Trail Ridge Road. This is 13 miles west of Deer Ridge Junction on the east side of the park and 4.1 miles east of Alpine Visitor Center. The paved trail, rated moderately easy, starts at the Rock Cut Trailhead. Hike east on the wide trail, gently crossing fragile alpine tundra. Stay on the trail to avoid damaging vegetation. The trail slowly climbs before flattening out. Follow a spur up right to Mushroom Rocks, an interesting outcrop. Finish the trail at 12,304-foot Toll Memorial and a plaque commemorating Roger Toll’s service to the National Park system. There’s also a National Park finder that locates other parks and their distances from that point.
- Trail Ridge, once the route that Ute Indians traveled from the eastern plains to the western ranges, is traversed by Trail Ridge Road, the highest through-highway in the United States. The broad grassy ridge, mostly above timberline, has a harsh climate with a short summer, 40 frost-free days a year, over 40 inches of precipitation annually (65% is snow), and severe weather.
- Summer weather quickly changes from sun to storm. Be prepared for heavy afternoon thunderstorms accompanied by lightning. Snow, cold temperatures, and high winds can occur in the summer. Descend immediately back to your car if lightning is within 10 miles of Trail Ridge. Bring a rain jacket and extra clothes. Don’t forget to pack a hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses to protect from bright sunlight. Also carry snacks and water. Cell service is spotty so don’t rely on your phone.
- Trail Ridge Road also offers lots of viewpoints as well as the Alpine Visitor Center. Stop at Forest Canyon Overlook for views into the canyon and the row of peaks along the Continental Divide. The Gore Range Overlook gives spacious views of the Never Summer Range and the Gore Range 70 miles to the east. The visitor center has park information, a bookstore, and offers exhibits about tundra ecology and geology. A store sells gifts and food.
Recommended season(s): Year-round.
–Stewart M. Green