(CBS4) – Many people like to go hiking up in the mountains but not everyone likes to carry a heavy backpack into the back country.

For such people, inn-to-inn hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park might be just the thing they’ve been looking for.

“I think one person on the trail said it best when we explained what we were doing. They said, ‘Oh it’s hiking with a bed and a bath,'” explained Dick Mulhern.

Mulhern and his wife Liz recently took part in a 4-day inn-to-inn trek with an Estes Park group called The Warming House.

“The first day we’re in a forest of ferns. The next day we’re on top of a mountain. The next day we’re just sort of traversing through meadows,” said Liz Mulhern.

They did not carry backpacks on their trip, only day packs.

“Sometimes at the end of the trail you hike an 8-mile day you go, ‘I’m not ready to go to my car and drive home.'”

Phebe Novic and her husband David with The Warming House have organized guided treks all over the world from their shop.

“People don’t know they want to do this until we tell them what it is,” Novic said.

They were inspired by the European tradition of long distance footpaths that take multi-day hikers right through towns and villages.

“I was looking at the map and since I live here, noticed how I could connect this lodge, and then I could connect this lodge and then connect this lodge,” explained Novic.

The Novics created a route from Estes Park through varied terrain in Rocky Mountain National Park to Allenspark, stopping at various bed and breakfast inns at the end of each day’s hike. They call it the Walter Tishma Way, a name that comes from a local legend who came to the area after he retired.

“He worked as a volunteer at the Longs Peak Ranger Station and climbed Longs Peak over 100 times,” said Novic.

“When people arrive at the Baldpate Inn on the WTW Trail, they have just completed their hardest day,” said inn owner Lois Smith. “They’re absolutely exhausted. So they’re coming up the steps and they’re so glad to be here.”

Hikers revel in glasses of wine and sumptuous dinners.

“The dining room has a wonderful view,” said Smith. “Sometimes people tell me it’s a little bit like eating in a tree house.”

As hikers head out for another day’s adventure, they leave their worries behind … and their luggage.

“We transfer it to the next lodge so you can walk out the door with your day pack, your lunch, what you need for the day,” said Novic.

“The idea of not having to carry your clothes — that works for me,” hiker Barb Hagenberg told CBS4.

Additional Resources

Inns included in the Walter Tishma Way route include the Aspen Lodge, Baldpate Inn and the Allenspark Lodge.  Call (970) 586-2995 for information or visit footpathsoftheworld.com.


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