Whale Peak from Hall Valley, Gibson Lake Trailhead
Total Mileage: 6.1 miles round-trip per GPS
Total Elevation Gain: 2700 feet
Climbers: Sunny1 and Fishdude
Background: We were looking for a quiet, non-committing hike. Something we could easily complete in a half-day from the Denver area.
I present this option with details, to save you from re-inventing the Whale.
Getting to the Trailhead:
From Denver, take 285 South to Grant.
Continue 3 more miles south on 285, then turn right on Co Rd 60, Hall Valley Rd.
This is a 2 WD road until just after Mile 5.2 from the intersection of 285 and Hall Valley Rd.
At that point, the Hall Valley Campground turn off will be on your left (Rd 120B).
Continue straight with care on Rd 120C 0.2 mi to the stream crossing.
There are rocks to navigate in the road.
Just before the stream crossing, there are a few places to park, if you have 2WD, this is the place to park.
A 2WD with high clearance and good tires or 4WD (preferable) can make it to the Gibson Lake TH, 1 mi further after the stream crossing, or 6.4 mi from where you turn onto the Hall Valley Rd.
There's a weather beaten sign at the south end of the parking lot, indicating the start of the trail:
We measured 2.3 miles one way to Gibson Lake (rather than the 3 mi noted on the sign), and approximately 1500 ft of elev gain to the lake
The trail takes you through a very nice forest. It's a serene hike.
At around 1.6 miles, you'll begin to reach treeline.
Reaching treeline. Fishdude getting hungry for Whale. The peak is just right of center above.
Continue on a well defined trail to 11,879 ft, where you'll find Gibson Lake.
Gibson Lake - there were trout jumping in there
From here you have 2 options to climb Whale Peak. In the photo above, you can hike left of the lake and climb up on the rock shelf, then on to the ridge and hike right to Whale's summit.
We decided to take a direct route, staying to the right of the willows in the picture below.
Fishdude nearing the top of the willows. The summit is to the left, out of sight. Proceed to the grassy shelf, then left up the ramp.
Getting closer, continue upward on the tundra
From the summit, looking at the Tenmile Range. There were great 360 degree views up here
Sunny1 on the summit with Grays and Torreys Peaks in the background (photo credit Fishdude)
Gentian - one of late summer's floral treats
Close up of Gentian
Thank you for reading!