Argentine Pass (13,207′), Front Range

Argentine Pass (13,207′), Front Range

Argentine Pass (13,207′), Front Range

Argentine Pass is the highest named vehicle-accessible pass in Colorado. Vehicle travel is only possible on the Georgetown side of the pass (during the summer months) by a four-wheel drive vehicle with high-clearance. The trail on the Horseshoe Basin side is only accessible by foot or by mountain bike. The pass is also the highest point on the American Discovery Trail, perched on the Continental Divide.

The pass has many great hiking destinations, and provides a ridgeline walk to Gray’s Peak (14,270′), a great alternative to busy Stevens Gulch if you have a 4×4.

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Trail Directions

Take exit 228 from I-25W, go under the freeway and take a right (west) at the 4 way stop. Follow the signs to Guanella Pass through the historic downtown area of Georgetown. 

About 2.5 miles out of Georgetown watch for a small parking lot on the right side of one of the switchbacks. This will begin the road to Argentine Pass, FR248.1. As of this writing, there are no signs to the pass, so bring a map.

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Rollins Pass (11,671′), Front Range

Rollins Pass (11,671′), Front Range

Rollins Pass (11,671′), Front Range

Rollins Pass is located on the Continental Divide, approximately five miles east of Winter Park, when approaching from the west. The abandoned rail route over the pass was designated a National Register of Historic Places in 1980 because of engineering feats accomplished by railroading efforts in the early 20th century.

The 4×4 trail takes you along one of the highest and most dangerous railroad routes ever built. The railroad had to deal with huge snow drifts, arctic climates, and steep grades, causing many incidents over the years. The route was used until 1927, when the nearby Moffat Tunnel was completed.

The route chosen was to climb to the pass from the west side heading east. Regardless, the route from either side is out and back. The route across the pass is closed from the Continental Divide to the Needle’s Eye Tunnel to motorized traffic.

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Trail Directions

Take the Corona Pass Rd turnoff on the northbound side of US-40 just south of Winter Park. The pass once had a town called Corona at the summit, which is why the road has it’s name. The road is very rocky at the begining, and in sections all the way up. Stay on the main road all the way to the pass.

At the summit you will be in what was once the town of Corona. The route across the pass is closed from the Continental Divide to the Needle’s Eye Tunnel to motorized traffic, so retrace your route back down.

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Mt Ida (12,880′), Front Range

Mt Ida (12,880′), Front Range

Mt Ida (12,880′), Front Range

The Mt Ida trail, at Milner Pass, is one of Rocky Mountain Park’s most scenic alpine treks. The trail has spectacular views that include tundra flats, panoramic views across the Never Summer Mountain Range, and 360 degree views of Rocky Mountain National Park from the summit.

Officially there is no trail to the summit, but well-established hiking paths make the trek straightforward. Be aware that many cairns and social trails begin to spindle off the main route near the summit, which can be confusing. However, since you’re above treeline, it shouldn’t be hard to piece together the final part of the route. 

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Trail Directions

Start from Poudre Lake Trailhead at Milner Pass (Continental Divide) and head northeast toward Poudre Lake. Hike past the southern shore of Poudre Lake and follow steep switchbacks through the forest. Keep to the right and follow the sign toward Mt Ida at the first junction. Ascend up a deep forest, heading to the western side of the ridge as you make your way to tree line.

Once above tree line, the views of The Never Summer mountains to the northwest are incredible. Continue over intermittently steep slopes and flat trail. Eventually boulder fields will begin to appear, so it may be tricky to find a steady trail to the top. Stay to the right on the way up to avoid the more difficult sections and the cliffs. The summit provides beautiful 360 degree views of Rocky Mountain National Park.

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Bierstadt Lake (9,470′), Front Range

Bierstadt Lake (9,470′), Front Range

Bierstadt Lake (9,470′), Front Range

Bierstadt Lake sits atop a forested moraine, which is a ridge composed of material left behind thousands of years ago by receding glaciers. The lake was formed when a dam was made from glacial debris deposits. Water from the lake drains into Mill Creek within the Mill Creek basin, a flat valley with a scenic meadow.

The lake’s east end provides the best look at the Continental Divide, with standouts such as Otis Peak (12,486′), Hallet Peak (12,713′)Flattop Mountain (12,324′), Ptarmigan Point (12,363′) and Notchtop Mountain (12,129′).

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Trail Directions

An uphill 1.4-mile (2.3 km) trail with switchbacks that begins at the Bierstadt Lake Trailhead. A 0.6-mile (0.97 km) trail encircles the subalpine lake, which has a sandy beach along the eastern portion, offering the most spectacular views.

Most of the elevation gain occurs in the first three-quarters of a mile. You enter a pine forest which turns to sage with unobstructed views as you gain elevation. At the top of the moraine the trail transitions back into a dense forest again. The trail gets relatively flat as you continue to the lake.

Trailhead Directions

Mt Sniktau (13,234′), Front Range

Mt Sniktau (13,234′), Front Range

Mt Sniktau (13,234′), Front Range

Mount Sniktau sits just east of the Continental Divide on the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. The summit is located less than a mile south of Interstate 70, and east of the Eisenhower Tunnel. Despite being close to an Interstate and being one of the windiest places in Colorado, Mt Sniktau made the list because of the epic views from the summit.

From the ridge, you will see Loveland Pass below at 11,990 ft (3,655 m), Torreys Peak (14,267′), with Grays Peak (14,270′) popping up behind it to the southeast. There are too many more peaks to list that you can see from the summit, but some others include Mt. Evans 14,264′, Quandary Peak (14,265′), Mt. Parnassus (13er), Mt. Bard (13er), Longs Peak 14,255′, and Mt. of the Holy Cross (14,005). Also visible is the Tenmile/Mosquito Range and hundreds of other peaks. To the west are the ski runs of Loveland Ski Area, Arapahoe Basin, Keystone, and Breckenridge across the Continental Divide. What a view!

The name “Sniktau” refers to the pen name of Edwin H. N. Patterson, journalist and editor of the Colorado Miner in the Clear Creek County area during the 1860s. Patterson was a close friend of the famous poet, Edgar Allan Poe.

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Trail Directions

From the parking lot, head east towards Mt Sniktau. You’ll first climb to the saddle at point 12,915, a mile ahead of you. After gaining the ridge, take a left (north) to continue up the southwest ridge. Head towards another bump which is a false summit at 13,152 feet.

Hike through a short rocky section to reach the final false summit. You can now see the remaining route to reach the true peak’s summit. Keep hiking and drop about 250 feet into the saddle before you ascend for another quarter mile to reach the summit.

 

Trailhead Directions

Lake Isabelle (10,910′), Front Range

Lake Isabelle (10,910′), Front Range

Lake Isabelle (10,910′), Front Range

Lake Isabelle lies hidden in a high, isolated bowl-shaped basin at the top of the South St. Vrain drainage in the Brainard Lake Recreation Area. It lies at tree-line in a stunning alpine valley surrounded by Navajo (13,409′), Apache (13,441′) and Shoshoni (12,967′) peaks. The Continental Divide is located just west of the lake, running along the high peaks above the valley.

Mitchell & Blue Lake and Mt Audubon, are also located in the Brainard Lake Recreation Area and also offer beautiful views of the Indian Peaks Wilderness.

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Trail Directions

From the Long Lake Trailhead, the trail begins its relatively gentle ascent up to Long Lake. After a quarter-mile of trekking, the trail intersects the Jean Lunning Trail, which will take you to and around Long Lake.  This area is known for moose sightings. Avoid the Jean Lunning Trail and continue to the right uphill to Lake Isabelle.

After approximately 1 more mile, the trail intersects the Jean Lunning Trail for the second time.  Again, continue towards Lake Isabelle and Pawnee Pass, bypassing the Jean Lunning Trail.  Lake Isabelle is just another .9 miles beyond this trail junction. From the lake you have the option of continuing further up the trail to reach Isabelle Glacier.

Trailhead Directions

Estes Cone (11,007′), Front Range

Estes Cone (11,007′), Front Range

Estes Cone (11,007′), Front Range

Estes Cone is located about 3 miles from the Longs Peak trailhead on the east side of Rocky Mountain National Park. The peak serves as a prominent landmark in the Tahosa Valley to the east. The peak is named for one of the first settlers in Estes Valley, Joel Estes. The granite peak has a rocky outcrop on the summit that provides unobstructed views of Rocky Mountain National Park.

On the way to Estes Cone you will pass by the old Eugene Mine area, of which there is almost no trace left. Moving on you end up at Storm Pass, after which the steepest part of the hike begins. Just before reaching the summit you will hit a cliff band. Head to the right  and there will be a weakness in the wall that you can scramble up to the summit.

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Trail Directions

The approach to Estes Cone from the Longs Peak trailhead is relatively easy with mild uphills until you reach the base of the mountain. Once you turn off the Storm Pass trail you will see cairns marking the turnoff to begin the steeper 800′ scramble to the top. Once you reach the base of the summit, head right of the rock wall to scramble to the summit.

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Pikes Peak (14,110′), Front Range

Pikes Peak (14,110′), Front Range

Pikes Peak (14,110′), Front Range

Pikes Peak is the highest summit of the southern Front Range of the Rocky Mountains in North America. The prominent 14,115-foot (4,302.31 m) fourteener is located in Pike National Forest, 12 miles (19 km) west of downtown Colorado Springs, Colorado.  The summit is higher than any point in the United States east of its longitude. The uppermost portion of Pikes Peak, above 14,000 feet (4,267 m) elevation, was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1961.

The mountain and it’s flanks offer great hiking, such as Pancake Rocks and the Crags. The other 14,000′ peak in Colorado with a paved road to nearly the summit is Mt Evans.

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Trail Directions

Take HWY 24 west from Colorado Springs for approximately 14 miles until you see the sign for the Pikes Peak Hwy. Turn left and follow the signs.

The road is paved but lacks guard rails so can be unsettling for first time mountain drivers.

This is a toll road with an entrance fee at the base of the mountain.

Trailhead Directions

Blodgett Peak (9,429′), Front Range

Blodgett Peak (9,429′), Front Range

Blodgett Peak (9,429′), Front Range

Blodgett Peak is located in Blodgett Peak Open Space along the Rampart Range of the Rocky Mountains. The peak has a small summit that provides unobstructed views in all directions, rising from the eastern edge of the Rockies. The trailhead is situated close to the U.S. Air Force Academy, north of Colorado Springs.

While in the area, Mt Rosa, Almagre Mountain, and Mt Herman are also great hiking options.

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Trail Directions

The Blodgett Peak trailhead begins in the Blodgett Peak Open Space. Heading out from the parking lot the easiest path to navigate is the closed road, which leads to the water tower.

Take the social trail below the water tower to continue to the peak. The trail will wind into a canyon and begin gaining elevation more quickly. Loose scree and a steep route define this section of the trail.

The social trail leads through the Waldo Canyon wildfire scar, where there is less scree and better footing. Once on the ridge, head to the right (east) to reach the summit. There is a short boulder field scramble to the small summit.

Trailhead Directions

Pancake Rocks (11,060′), Front Range

Pancake Rocks (11,060′), Front Range

Pancake Rocks (11,060′), Front Range

Pancake Rocks Trail shares the trailhead used to reach Horsethief Falls for the first .7 miles. The trail climbs trough heavy forest before leveling out near the two trail junctions. At the second junction you can go straight for a .5 mile trip to Horsethief Falls, or turn right to reach the interesting stacked pancake looking granite formations 2 miles away.

The Crags are also nearby and a great hike to a scenic overlook.

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Trail Directions

The trail starts on the SE corner of the parking lot. Trail #704 to Horsethief Park begins by climbing steeply into a dense forest. Once the terrain levels out you come across a left turn marked with a ring-the-peak signpost. Say straight at the junction to continue to Horsethief Falls.

There is ample signage at the second trail junction, where you will head to the right (south) up Pancake Rocks Trail. The are many switchbacks and the trail is steep. 

Once you gain the ridgeline, the rest of the hike is on easier terrain. The trail winds along the ridge and drops in elevation before reaching Pancake Rocks.  

Trailhead Directions