James Peak Lake

posted in: Harder Hikes | 0

James Peak Lake, at the base of the huge James Peak East Face, is one of the most picturesque spots in the Rockies, in my humble opinion. If you have a vehicle that can make the trip (a high clearance, true 4×4 vehicle, with low-range gearing), this trip is not to be missed.

You can also summit James Peak from this route if you like. I prefer to start from Loch Lomond when summiting the peak (see my Loch Lomond route description and tracks in another article), but this works as well. Both trails meet up at a HUGE rock cairn, after that they both follow the same track to the summit.

There are two possible road routes. The first is to take Apex Valley Road which starts just north of the city of Black Hawk on route 119. The other route starts west of Rollinsville before you get to East Portal. Both road routes are tracked in the GPS download.

New Update: I have added tracks to Little Echo Lake along the Ute trail. A rarely visited small lake that is brimming with trout for you fishermen.

Download James Peak Lake Tracks and Waypoints (37 downloads)

Mayhem Gulch Trail

posted in: Harder Hikes | 0

Centennial Cone is a scenic foothills park between Golden and Black Hawk, Colorado. The park offers challenging, lengthy trails that are favorites of hikers and mountain bikers. There is a hiking trailhead with parking off of route 6 a couple miles west of tunnel 3 called the Mayhem Gulch Trailhead. Using the Juniper Trail, there is a 4.5 mile loop possible from this trailhead with diverse terrain and enough up and down to get your exercise for the week. The hike looks like it would be very steep from the trailhead, but it is actually fairly gentle thanks to excellent trail design.

To hike the loop, just proceed up Mayhem Gulch Trail until it intersects with Juniper Trail. Stay to the RIGHT here, continuing on Mayhem Gulch Trail. Eventually the trail will intersect with Travois Trail (the mountain biking loop). Turn left at the intersection and after a couple hundred feet you will see the intersection with Juniper Trail. Take Juniper Trail back to Mayhem Gulch Trail, and continue down Mayhem Gulch trail back to your car.

While we were hiking this trail, we noticed a rocky cliff area with a striking waterfall, I’m sure you will see it and hear it as well if the water is flowing. From the far end of the parking lot we discovered a faint trail to the base of the waterfall. It’s worth checking out if you feel up to it.

This park has some unusual rules which you should be aware of:

1. The park has decided to close Elk Range Trail during the spring for Elk Calving. It re-opens mid-June. Elk Range Trail is an important connector that makes loop trips possible, so plan accordingly.

2. On Saturday and Sunday the park is restricted to mountain bikers on even numbered days and hikers on odd numbered days. During the week the park is open to everyone.

3. Centennial Cone Park is CLOSED in December and January.  

Getting to the trailhead: There are 3 parking areas for Centennial Cone park. The Mayhem Gulch trailhead is located directly on Route 6 as you’re traveling from Golden to Black Hawk. The GPS download provides the precise location. It is a couple miles after Tunnel 3.

Download Centennial Cone Tracks and Waypoints (55 downloads)

Some 14’ers are easier than others! (Mt. Bierstadt)

posted in: Easy Hikes | 0

I’m sure you’ve heard of Mt. Evans. It’s Colorado’s OTHER touristy 14’er (the main one being Pike’s Peak, of course). What if I told you there was a 14’er that you could hike to, in an easy day trip, and watch all the tourists drive to the top of Mt. Evans next door? They might even see you if they have the observatory telescope pointing the right direction!

The summit of Bierstadt also offers great views of the long closed Geneva Basin ski area, you can clearly see it if you look south-west. At 14,060 feet, it’s not the tallest, but it’s a great dayhike anyway.

My round trip took 5 hours 47 minutes and covered 7.4 miles. Most people start hiking early in the morning to avoid the afternoon lightning. Take the Georgetown exit off of I-70, and go through town as if you are going to the train station. Bear left at the fork in the road, following the signs for the Guanella Pass road. There is a parking area at the trailhead, at Guanella Pass. The trail is as easy to follow as any trail above treeline can be. There is one stream crossing which can be tricky if the water is high, glad I was wearing my GoreTex XCR’s for this trip. Oh, and just like every 14’er that I’ve seen, the final bit is a boulder hopping scramble.

Thanks go to the Colorado Mountain Club for maintaining the summit register, be sure to sign it while you’re there. And don’t feed the Marmots!

Download Bierstadt Tracks and Waypoints (52 downloads)

Centennial Cone Summit, near Black Hawk

posted in: Easy Hikes | 0

This fairly easy hike near Black Hawk and Golden, ascends to the summit of Centennial Cone Park’s namesake. The only thing that lends it any difficulty is the fact that part of it is off trail, and it’s pretty steep in places. There is a summit register here, as well as some excellent foothills views. Also note that this trip requires using the Elk Range Trail which is closed in the Spring (see Centennial Cone Overview below for details).

There are several routes in the download for this trip. CentConeAprch is the easy one. If you just want a quick easy trip, just follow that track back down also. For a tougher challenge, bushwhack your way around the mountainside, roughly following the CentConReturn track, until you come to the Old Road, and go up it a short distance to find the old site of a Pegmatite Mine.

This park has some strange rules which you should be aware of. Before coming to this park make sure you read my Centennial Cone Overview page for details and closures: Centennial Cone Overview Page      

Download Centennial Cone Tracks and Waypoints (55 downloads)