| Jacque the Long Way
Trailhead: A condo building parking lot near the roundabout, which was through the entrance to Copper Mountain ski area. The parking lot was along I-70.
Route: We took the bike path toward Vail, then crossed the creek on a wood bridge and followed the creek on a faint trail toward Vail a bit. Then we turned left into Guller Gulch and bushwhacked/followed a faint trail/trail segments until about 10,400 feet or so where we intercepted the CO Trail. We then followed the CO Trail to the saddle and then we hiked off-trail to the summit. We descended along the ridge toward Union Mountain, then followed a ski run to a road. Then we followed the road to the base of the mountain.
Who: Bob & Kate
Miles: ~15.2 total miles. It was about 9.25 miles to the summit and about 6 miles on the descent.
Special gear: None needed
Class: Mostly class 2 with class 1 on the CO Trail
Kate and I were looking for a longer hike this weekend. After studying Topos for much of the winter, I had Jacque Peak on my mind. According to the map, the CO Trail would lead us to the saddle of Jacque Peak and Elk Mountain. It should then be a straightforward hike to the summit of Jacque Peak. The route would also allow us to avoid the private property issues along Highway 91.
Here is the LOJ map for the peak. We arrived at the Copper Mountain ski area after dark and we drove around trying to find the TH for the CO Trail. We didn't find it so we parked in a ski parking lot for the night. In the morning we moved our car to a condo building parking lot right at a roundabout on the road from the main entrance. This parking lot was next to I-70, but I forget the name of the building. It was probably not .25 miles to the start of the bike path.
The map did seem to indicate that the CO Trail started at or very near the start of the bike path that goes from Copper Mountain to Vail. Here's a picture of that spot.
We started walking along the bike path, but we kept scanning the side for any sign of the CO Trail. I was expecting a well-defined trail. We didn't find the CO Trail - maybe we missed it, maybe the TH got moved; I don't know. We did find this trail leading to a wooden bridge that would let us stay dry as we crossed the creek. The trail was kind of well-defined, so we took a chance on it. You can see the bike path and I-70 overpass on the right.
Bike path exit
The trail soon became pretty faint. This was definitely not the CO Trail... But it did lead us in the right direction. A couple of parts of the trail led us to the side of the hill on the southwest side of the creek and we had to duck under and go around some trees.
We were already getting wet from the early morning dew so we were glad to see that the creek crossing had a log over it. We ended up crossing the creek several times. The first crossing was on the nice wooden (constructed) bridge. The next allowed us to cross to the west side of the Guller Creek, just under one of the overpasses.
1st of many crossings
Another crossing of Guller Creek. We kept trying to find the trail so we hiked from one side of the drainage to the other a couple of times. The drainage was not very wide so this wasn't a big deal. However, we ended up agreeing that it would have been easier - or at least we would have had fewer creek crossings - if we stayed on the west side of Guller Creek.
The trail was generally very faint in this area, but you could find it if you were looking for it. We did lose it several times, but the general direction of 'go up the drainage' served us well.
This looks like an old road so we took it; it was on the west side of the drainage. It didn't last long.
Finally at about 10,400 feet, near the confluence of two creeks, we met up with the CO Trail.
CO Trail intersection
This was much better than walking through wet grass and willows. Oh yeah, there were a fair amount of willows we had to go through.
It was a very nice drainage. The highway noise faded away pretty quickly an soon we were the only ones in the area.
Nice flowers along the trail
More CO Trail
Treeline arrived fairly quickly after we got on the CO Trail. Up ahead in the next picture is the saddle.
Here's a shot looking back down the drainage.
There's a hut along the trail. It looked pretty nice, but we didn't go down to investigate it. I believe this is called "Janet's Cabin."
There's a big sign about snowmobiling standing up and another on the ground at the saddle.
Saddle with sign on the right side of the pic
Here is Kate a few yards off the saddle. There was a steep and rocky area just off the trail, but it was easy to hike over.
Just off the saddle
Above that rocky area were some ups and downs. The ups and downs weren't too bad and you could avoid the points and just side-hill along most of it.
The point left of center is the summit.
Getting to the saddle was pretty easy, but the peak isn't just off the saddle. You'll have to walk a fair amount to get to the summit.
We had to cross a few talus fields.
Here's the view from the route.
Here's Kate just below the summit. We carried our ice axes just in case. With all the snow we had this year we didn't want to need it but not have it. We ended up not needing them at all.
Here's the view to 91.
Our descent route followed the ridge toward Union Mountain and then we side-hilled toward some ski lifts. We followed roads and ski runs before we got to the main road at about 10,500 feet. We were tired of the steep descent so we stuck to the road after that. It would have been MUCH better to ski down.
The descent down the ridge started out on talus. The talus was pretty stable, even though it was a jumbled mess, like most talus. Here's the view back up toward the summit from the descent.
The descent off the summit
Here's part of our side-hilling. The angle wasn't too bad.
On the descent
There was a faint road near the top of Union Mountain, but it didn't seem to go where we wanted to go so after walking on it as long as it was useful to us, we walked down a ski run. It probably would have taken us to the road we eventually ended up on, but we would have had to regain some elevation and we didn't want to.
We definitely had our map out here to make sure we'd get down to the right place. The ski runs are not in the same position today as they are represented on the map, but with some patience we figured it out.
Eventually we followed a road down the mountain. We soon had to contend with contruction vehicles, bike riders, and other hikers. The road lead us down right near our parking spot.
This was another nice hike, but it would have been nicer/easier if we had found the CO Trail from the start. Maybe someone can post in the comments the correct place to pick it up?
We hope you enjoyed the report.
Bob and Kate
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):