Staunton SP

Staunton SP

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Mt. Bierstadt 14,060ft, Mt. Evans Wilderness Area

Mt. Bierstadt 14,060ft - West Slope Route
Mount Evans Wilderness, Pike National Forest

Date Hiked: Sept. 2007

Distance: 7 mi (RT)
Elevation Gain: 2,850ft
Elevation Min/Max: 11,669 to 14,060ft
Managing Agency: U.S. Forest Service

Fee: None

U.S. Forest Service Mt. Bierstadt Trail Webpage West Slopes Route Page

Directions:  The trailhead is located on Guanella Pass.  From Denver, take I-70 W to Georgetown.  Once in Georgetown follow the signs to Guanella Pass, the road is paved all the way to the pass and the trailhead.

This was my first CO 14er and one of my first hikes in Colorado.  There is not much to say other than this hike rocks!  It is widely known as the easiest 14er which is still a very strenuous hike.  The rewards are worth every breathless step.  The view from the top is wonderful because you can see all the tourists on Mt. Evans and you get a great view of the sawtooth ridge and Abyss Lake.  This hike makes for a great introduction to hiking 14ers and one of the best bang-for-your-buck hikes in the Front Range.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Gem Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park

Gem Lake
Rocky Mountain National Park

Date Hiked:  Sept. 8, 2007
  • Distance: 3.2 mi (RT)
  • Elevation Gain: 1,000 ft
  • Elevation Min/Max: 7,840 to 8,840ft
  • Managing Agency: National Park Service
  • Fee: None
Rocky Mountain National Park Trails Website & Map

Directions:  Gem Lake is most easily accessed via the Lumpy Ridge Trailhead.  From downtown Estes Park, head north on 34 past the Stanley Hotel and make a right on MacGregor Ave.  Make another right onto Devil's Gulch Rd and look for the signs for Lumpy Ridge Trailhead on the left.  There is no fee to hike into RMNP from here.

Lumpy Ridge is a geologic wonderland and an overlooked treasure in RMNP.  The area is just north of Estes Park and is made up of towering granite spires, domes, and other rock formations.  The famous "Twin Owls" are part of this formation.  Because of the low altitude of this area, the trails are hikeable almost year round.  The hike to Gem Lake is one of the more popular hikes in this area and rightly so as it takes you into the heart of Lumpy Ridge.

From the trailhead you start off gradually, through aspen forests, until you enter the park and start ascending more steeply.  The hike gains 1,000 ft of elevation in just 1.6 miles so it will get your heart pumping.  As you hike you'll weave in and out of the crazy rock formations, get great views of Longs Peak and the park as you look back down the ridge, and finally, arrive at scenic Gem Lake.  The lake is small but it is perched on a shelf surrounded by rock.  There are many places to explore and great spots to have some lunch or just relax.  The way back is even more fun as you can appreciate the rock formations without the burning in your lungs.