Jones Mtn B via Ptarmigan Trail 13,221ft
I’ve been eyeing the Ptarmigan Lake hike for several years since reading about it in one of my Colorado Hiking guides. When I recently saw on the Internet there was a relatively easy 13er peak above the trail, we decided to go. We planned at least a hike to the Ptarmigan Lake, and if our son had enough energy left, we would make a push for Jones Peak summit at 13, 218ft. Ptarmigan Lake TH is about 14.5 miles from Buena Vista on CR306. We drove up Cottonwood Canyon to about three miles past the Yale Parking Lot at Denny Creek and turned left into the clearly marked Ptarmigan Lake Trail parking lot.
Clearly marked sign for parking lot
The trail starts at around 10,600 and begins by crossing a bridge and then gently slopes upward past two boulder fields until you cross a 4x4 road at mile 1.3. There we saw an angler from Tennessee taking a break. Although this portion of the trail is not strenuous, the altitude is high for those unused to the thin air. We would see about 5 others fishing that day and a woman with a Pike’s Peak marathon jacket on who ran by us on the trail.
First boulder field crossing at .02 miles
Looking back at 2nd boulder crossing at .07 miles
FS346 that crosses the trail at 1.2 miles with a rock arrow pointing the way
We continued hiking through the pine forest until about 3 miles, where we began to see little ponds and then the views opened up to the peaks of Gladstone Ridge situated to the east of Jones mountain
View of the trail, an unamed pond and Gladstone mtn
At 3.2 miles you reach Ptarmigan Lake at 12,147 ft, the largest of about 9 little lakes/ponds. The lake only reveals itself when you climb the final portion of the Ptarmigan Trail. When we arrived at the lake, there were a few anglers and I could see trout in the water. All was quiet except for pika squeaking and bustling around carrying grasses and flowers preparing for winter.
View below Ptarmigan lake
Having a snack at Ptarmigan Lake 12,147ft
We could easily see a trail leading to a saddle between Gladstone and Jones and a grassy upward slope leading to the summit. The weather was nice, we felt we could do it, so we decided to continue on.
View of trail leading up to the saddle between Gladstone and Jones Mtn about 12,300
At the saddle the trail disappeared but it didn’t really matter because it was relatively easy to climb the grass hill.
It took us about 35 minutes to summit from the saddle which is about a 1,000 ft climb. The last portion was rather steep; however, if we had hiked around to the NW of the peak it would have been much easier.
We had the huge summit to ourselves. We only saw 1 other hiker just below the summit who said he had circled around the mountain and was on his way down. The sun was out, the views were spectacular, and there was no wind other than a small breeze.
View from saddle looking into South Cottonwood Road valley
Looking up towards Jones peak
It's getting steep! Great view of Ptarmigan lake and surrounding ponds below
Final determined crawl/climb to the summit
Resting on the summit
View of Yale, Columbia and Harvard
Cottonwood Pass view
View of Mt. Princeton in background and road coming up from S. Cottonwood Rd.
We headed down the way we came stopping at the lake to hang out awhile, then hiked back eating raspberries along the trail.
Pic of trout in Ptarmigan lake
Image #20 (not yet uploaded)