| Crosier Mtn – good/dry 14er training!
Route: Garden Gate Trail
Total Elevation Gain: 3,250‘
Round-trip Mileage: 10
If any of you North Front Rangers want to get in a quick fix of elevation gain (i.e., training for summer 14er climbs) and you don‘t want to hassle with snow or long drives, Crosier Mountain is a good option. The trailhead we took is less than 20 miles from Loveland, so it‘s close to Fort Collins and Longmont, too. And don‘t let the "low" elevation fool you; this is a healthy climb.
There are three trails to the summit. We took the hardest and longest one (Garden Gate), which happens to be a few road miles closer to Loveland.
From downtown Loveland, drive 17 miles west on US 34. In Drake, turn right onto County Road 43 (Devil‘s Gulch Road), then drive 2.2 miles. A small parking area and the trailhead is on the left. When we arrived there was only one other parked car, but when we finished there were 15 cars parked alongside the road.
Here‘s a shot of the trailhead (taken later in the day, after we finished the climb):
At 8:20 a.m. we started up the trail. The air was cool but we could tell it was going to be a hot day. The first portion of the climb was nice and shaded. Unfortunately it didn‘t last. At least two-thirds of the hike ended up being in the sun. I was glad we brought plenty of water and sunscreen.
The trail was well-maintained and easy to follow (the entire way up).
We crossed many open meadows that were very quiet and serene.
Here‘s one high meadow:
Some rock formations reminded me of the Greyrock area:
Overall, the trail seemed to ascend gradually and nicely, although there were some slight dips here and there. The largest loss-gain dipped 200 feet into a valley. On the return, it felt like a "mini Holy Cross."
At 10:40 a.m. we gained the summit -- earlier than we expected!
Here‘s Jen making the final pitch up the summit block:
The views from the top were amazing! For a "lowly" summit of only 9,250‘, it was much better than I anticipated. Incredibly stellar views of Twin Sisters, Longs/RMNP, Estes Park, etc. were had:
Full-size view here:
We enjoyed the ascent and the summit all to ourselves. On the way down, we passed about a dozen people. Still, it wasn‘t nearly as crowded as I expected.
At 12:40 p.m. we made it back to the car. I‘ll admit, I was spent. But I guess 10 miles and 3,250 feet of gain is even a good hike at sea level.
For more great info on this mountain, check out Skasgaard‘s page on Summitpost:
Included is an incredible labeling job of the view from the summit (nicely done, Skasgaard!):
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):