Staunton SP

Staunton SP

Friday, September 21, 2012

Chief Mountain 11,709ft, Arapaho National Forest

Chief Mountain 11,709ft
Arapaho National Forest

Date Hiked: September 21, 2012

Distance: 3 mi (RT)
Elevation Gain: 1,000ft
Elevation Min/Max: 10,723 to 11,709 ft
Trailhead Lat/Long:39.682439º N; 105.521141º W
Managing Agency: U.S. Forest Service
Fee: None

U.S. Forest Service Chief Mountain Webpage
Chief Mountain Trail Map (Google Maps)

Directions:  The trailhead is located on Squaw Pass Road (103) across from a small parking area (on the shoulder of the road) and near the Echo Mountain Ski Area.  From Idaho Springs, go south on 103 to mile marker 18.  From Evergreen head west on 103 towards Mount Evans to mile marker 18.  The trailhead is small and easy to miss but look for the small Forest Service road sign and a wood sign that says "Chief Mt. Trail"

This is a great beginners summit hike.  It is reasonably steep, you gain 1,000 ft in just 1.5 miles, but the trail is easy to follow, breaks tree line, and leads right to a rocky alpine summit.  From the summit the views are endless.  You can see all the front range Fourteeners (Pikes is just visible if the sky is really clear) but Mount Evans is the main attraction.  Looking back to the east you get an up close view of Squaw Mountain.  The trail starts through the forest (pass by Old Squaw Pass Road, do not turn), breaks treeline, and switchbacks up to the summit.  The quality of the hike and the view vastly outweigh the effort, enjoy!

The pics below are from two separate hikes.  In 2012 there were terrible wildfires, even in September, and the sky was so hazy you could barely see Mt. Evans.  The other pics are from 2008 and the view was breathtaking.

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