While on my hike today I had thought whether I wanted to share this trip report with others or not. Sometimes it takes a long time to find a classic hike and when you do you just don’t want the secret to get out. Today was one of those classic hikes, and probably my favorite hike thus far while living in Colorado. I was undecided how far I wanted to take this route since there are many options so I was ready for an adventure. I ended up hiking Mount Trelease and Golden Bear Peak and making a nice loop down into the Loveland Ski Area.
There are multiple ways to access these mountains; the route I chose was to start from Dry Gulch TH. To get to the TH, drive I-70 west and take exit 216. When coming down the exit ramp take the immediate right onto a dirt road. If you go under the bridge you have gone too far. Follow this dirt road about half mile to a closed gate, park along the road. There is no TH sign here, but if you heading up the East Ridge Route on Trelease you are in the right place. Some people do these mountains from the Loveland Ski Area, if you want to do that just follow my route in reverse, but I would recommend doing it the way I did it today.
|Summit of Mount Trelease|
I arrived at the TH right around 7am, and was the only one on a crisp Monday morning. Walk around the gate and head up the road, not too far maybe half mile there will be a rock cairn on the left and a ski shack on the right side of the road. You will see a faint old road heading up the East Ridge, follow the road, it is more of a trail now. The hiking is steep, and my calves were tightening up almost immediately. I took it one step at a time and was making good progress in the way of elevation. There was fresh dew or a rain from the previous night covering all the plants so my shoes and lower legs were all wet. It was a good way to start the day. When the road started to level out a bit and I could see the rocks from the false summit I cut off from the road and started making my way through the openings in the trees. Along this first section I had an owl buzz me and a ptarmigan flew up into a tree, so the birdlife was active this morning.
The walk through the forest was great. Unlike my hike on Otter where the bushwhacking was almost unbearable, this was a nice walk through the woods. The area was open and I could easily stick to the East Ridge. As the trees started clearing the rocks came alive. All of my geology friends would really have loved this hike. There was some great metamorphic and igneous rocks to view along much of the ridge. Now I had past tree line and had to gain a bit to get on top of the false summit. This area was very steep and loose bits of scree, so I tried to stay on the solid rock where I could. Like any class 2 hike you just find the way as you go, no route is truly set and that’s what makes this so much fun. Once getting up the 200ft of the steep loose stuff I was back on stable ground with a breeze of a walk to the false summit. There was a small rock cairn with a geocache inside, so I checked it out and saw I wasn’t too far off from the true summit of Trelease.
The ridge connecting these two mountains was probably the highlight of the hike. The rocky ridge got narrow in areas and wide in others and the rock hopping was fun. I couldn’t ever get tired of looking at The Citadel; it was so impressive and rightly named. The marmots were chirping away and what looked like a brown eagle flew by. It was short lived though, maybe 20 minutes of hiking got me down to the saddle in-between the two mountains.
Once down to the saddle I could peer into the ski area boundary. The Lift 8 was not too far off, but that wasn’t the way I was heading. There was a boundary line in place that resembled a fixed line rope from a high Himalayan peak. If I had my ascender I would have been set, I could have followed it directly to the summit..haha. I had about 700ft vertical to gain for the summit so I took it a step at a time. The route finding was simple; it was just a matter of taking the steps. Within a half an hour from the saddle I had made it to the summit of Golden Bear Peak. It was about 9:30am, so I made great time today. I tried to call my dad to rub it in, since I could get cell service up there, but he wasn’t home. I pulled out some cookies and decided I would just head down into the ski area and make a nice hike today. I think if I had a climbing partner I would have head over to Hagar, but better to play it safe while hiking solo.
|Me on the Summit of Golden Bear Peak|
The Continental Divide ridge walk was amazing. Talk about having views all around that never got old. I could have stayed up there all day, but I knew eventually I’d have to head back down to my rig. The ridge was gentle covered in rock and grass. I stayed on the east side so I could check out the chutes that the skiers head down in the winter time. Ah..no thanks. They actually don’t looks as scary as I thought they would, and are pretty short lived, I guess you just have to make the jump over and go from there. I was eyeing Lift 9 on the cusp of the divide and knew there was a road heading down that way somewhere. After maybe half mile on the ridge I saw a nice snow chute and headed that way since the road was a few hundred feet below it.
This is one of those days that my better judgment probably came in handy. I would have loved a nice 100ft glissade down this piece of snow just to say I did it in August, but I figured the walking was easy so no sense in adding unneeded risks. Plus the scree next to the snow was like kitty litter, so I was down in a few seconds anyway. I followed the draining creek through some small willows onto a road that came out near the top of lift 4.
|Sweet Lunch View|
It was time for my PB&J. I took a short break and marveled at the view heading towards Parnassus and Bard Peaks. From here I knew it was just a matter of hiking the road down to the base of the mountain then following HWY 6 back to my car. I took my time since I was in no rush today and enjoyed seeing the lay of the ski hill snow free. As I got lower and lower I finally passed a pama lift, which I didn’t even knew Loveland had, and in no time at all was walking through the parking lot at the base of the mountain.
From the Loveland parking lot I just followed the side of the road back down under the bridge and then down the dirt road to my car. From the parking lot it was about 1.25miles to where I had parked, not a bad walk and a lot better than I was expecting. This loop was an amazing hike and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for something not technical and close to Denver. With as close as this was to home the view were by far the best I have seen in my two years here. I’m putting this up as one of my favorite hikes so far, and I’m looking forward to getting back into the area to climb Bethel, Hagar and The Citadel. Not all at once of course, but who knows maybe later this week.
*A note to share with non-Coloradans is the section of I-70 from near the first HWY 6 bend on the right of the GPS Track and to the left over the divide is all in the Eisenhower Tunnel, and this is were the Loveland Ski Area is.
*Definitely check out the photo album, there are a few neat panoramas that came out, the link is at the bottom.
Starting Elevation: 10,560ft
Mount Trelease Summit: 12,461ft
Golden Bear Peak Summit: 13,010ft
Total Gained Elevation: 2,760ft
Distance: 7.84 miles
Time: 4:10 moving, 00:55 stopped.
Climbing Partner: Solo