Decalibron was fun in its own way. It lacked the beauty and “interest” that may other mountains offer, but it definitely not “miserable” as others have described it.
My wife and I left our house in Castle Rock at 4:00 AM . Even though it was October there was a 30% chance of thunderstorms so we wanted to make sure we got a reasonably early start. The drive to the trailhead was straightforward. (Note there are road closures of Kite lake road so make sure you check the trailhead status page for up to date info). We paid the $3 for parking the campground lot was almost full at 6:30 when we arrived. Most of the people had just hit the trail or were readying their gear at their cars. With current road closures I would probably recommend doing this Saturday arriving before 7AM. When you finish you could hang out at the campground and fish, grill up lunch, drink some beers, until the road re-opens at 7PM. This should greatly reduce the company.
We got our bearings and surveyed the route for snow. You can see most of the route from the parking lot (everything except for Lincoln). It was clear in the pre-dawn glow that there was no snow yet. We set off just before 7am, a group of 8 and about 5 groups of two left within 15 minutes of each other, it was obviously going to be a crowded day in the mountains.
The first part of this route climbs the ridge between Democrat and Cameron. This was a pretty straightforward trail; the upper half of the trail was steeper and slower, and was littered with talus. We made pretty good time up the ridge, and turned left to head up Democrat. The climb up Democrat was the most fun part of the route. It was easy class two stuff, it was pretty slick with a layer of frost covering the talus. We made the summit of Democrat in about 1.5 hours, and took our first break. It was a pretty large summit but it was crowded with 20 + people.
Democrat Summit shot
Angela Hiking Democrat / Cameron Saddle
We only paused for 10 minutes and then headed out. The downclimb from Democrat to the saddle went pretty fast. (Probably about 20 minutes). You loose around 1000 feet of elevation here, which is a little disheartening. We were soon pushing up the ridge towards Cameron. This is the second biggest climb of the route. It is mostly a gentle incline with a few steeper sections. There was a little snow on the trail where it dips below the north side of the ridge. I am guessing there is snow here most of the year. We made the summit of Cameron about 9:30 2.5 hrs from start. At this point I would say you have 90% of the uphill behind you. We paused just long enough for a picture, and to put on our jackets. From Cameron you get the first look at the route up Lincoln. It is close by and maybe 300 ft of climbing from the broad ridge.
Cameron Summit Shot
We made a quick descent down the easy trail toward Lincoln. There was a little snowfield here as well. The climb up Lincoln is a narrow ridge with steep dropoffs on either side. It only took about 20 minutes to get from Cameron to Lincoln. We found a comfy rock and sat down to enjoy some sunshine and a snack. A mountain goat showed up while we were lounging on the summit. The summit of Lincoln is smaller, and has some exposure on all sides. It was my favorite summit of the four
Mountain Goat on Lincoln Summit
Loungin on Lincoln
After Lincoln you again descend to the broad saddle, then skirt the east side of Cameron. The trail towards bross is flat, maybe a little downhill. The trail up bross “if someone were to theoretically hike it” is pretty much a jeep road, and it should only take about 10 minutes from the “closed “ sign. My wife was a little concerned by trip reports about the loose / hairy descent off bross. After some discussion we decided to proceed with that route instead of backtracking 2 miles to the original assent. It was really not that bad. I think pretty much everyone slipped and sat down at least once. On the really steep loose parts I just plunge stepped / skied my way down. I took care to keep my center of gravity low and uphill. This made for a pretty rapid descent. The only part of the entire rout that was not painfully obvious was where to drop off the ridge into the gully. We went in right at the Cairn, most other folks dropped down another couple hundred feet before turning. After you cross the gully the trail is still somewhat tedious (occasional slips) for most of the remainder of the descent. The descent took us a little over an hour, and definitely pounded the quads.
The drive back to Denver was enjoyable as we caught some pretty fall colors in the tundra, willows, and aspen.
Fall colors looking up towards kite lake
Fall tundra off Kite Lake road
Aspens off kenosha pass (drive home)
Aspens off kenosha pass (drive home)