| Rogers Peak and Mt. Warren from the Dos Chappell Nature Center
13,391 Feet (325th Highest in Colorado)
13,307 Feet (389th Highest in Colorado)
Northeast Ridge from Dos Chappell Nature Center
Trailhead Elevation 11,520 Feet
8.0 Miles Roundtrip
Approximately 2,300 Feet Elevation Gained
June 6th, 2010
Greenhouseguy (Brian), Slow Moving Fun Seeker (Jay) and Zoomie83 (Todd)
Rogers Peak and Mt. Warren from the Dos Chappell Nature Center
Rogers Peak and Mt. Warren are two relatively gentle subpeaks on the Mt. Evans massif in the Front Range. Either mountain can be accessed from the Mt. Evans Highway, but hiking them directly from the road does not provide enough distance or elevation gain for a satisfactory mountaineering experience. Starting below treeline at the Dos Chappell Nature Center and hiking the M. Walter Pesman Trail to reach Rogers Peak's northeast ridge adds a scenic 3 miles and 600 feet of elevation gain to the round trip. The hike through the ancient Bristlecone Pine forest is an encounter that one will not soon forget.
The Dos Chappell Nature Center was dedicated in 2007. It was named for the founder and executive director of Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado. He led the drive to rehabilitate the M. Walter Pesman Trail, which was originally constructed in 1958. Walter Pesman was an influential landscape architect and wrote a well-received book about Colorado native plants entitled Meet the Natives. The rock garden at the nature center is a spectacular place to learn about Colorado's alpine vegetation.
Unranked twelver Mt. Goliath viewed from the Dos Chappell Nature Center
The Pesman Trail's difficulty is rated as moderate, a rating that primarily applies to non-hikers. There is nothing difficult about the well-maintained trail, which seems to get steeper as it progresses. Views to the west are blocked by the bulk of Mt. Goliath, but views to the east are good through the sparse Bristlecone Pine forest.
Chief Mountain and the politically incorrect Squaw Peak viewed from the Pesman Trail
Many of the Bristlecone Pines along the trail are between 1,000 and 1,600 years old, but they are not the oldest in the state. One specimen in the Mosquito Range near Hoosier Pass is over 2,450 years old. Dead stumps and snags take hundreds of years to decay in the subalpine environment.
Twisted stump of an ancient Bristlecone Pine (Pinus aristata)
There were traces of snow on the trail, but nothing insurmountable. The snow was firm enough to walk on in the morning, but it was slushy in the afternoon. With the current temperatures, the snow cannot possibly last more than two or three days.
One of the few snowbanks remaining on the trail
The views to the west opened up as we approached treeline. Rogers Peak's lower slopes were visible, but the summit was out of sight for the time being. The gentle tundra-covered slopes were anything but intimidating.
Rogers Peak framed by Bristlecone Pines
The 160-acre Mt. Goliath Research Natural Area is one of the best spots in the state to get close to the Bristlecones. It's worth hiking a little bit slower through this area to take time to appreciate the wind-sculpted trunks of the ancients. Our ancestors were probably living in mud huts when these seeds were germinating!
Winding trail through the Bristlecone forest
Jay (left) and Todd (right) taking a minute to get organized
Mt. Goliath's summit looks like an inviting place, but I resisted the urge to bag the peak because off-trail hiking is prohibited in the research area. If it's any consolation, the peak is not prominent enough to be ranked.
Looking towards Mt. Goliath's summit
A nearly horizontal Bristlecone
A deep snowbank blocked the trail just before we reached the upper trailhead. We were able to scoot over the firm snow to reach the road at the foot of Rogers Peak's northeast ridge.
Snowbank in the foreground with one of Rogers Peak's subpeaks in the background
We crossed the road and started up the ridge. It was the easiest sort of terrain, rocky tundra on a gentle slope. I had planned to stay on the ridge crest, but we were able to save some altitude gain and loss by staying below the crest on the northwest side.
Approaching the first bumps on Rogers Peak's Northeast Ridge
Wildflowers have a very short window of opportunity up here; there are only between 30 and 40 frost-free days per year. It is still early in the season, but the Fairy Primrose (Primula angustifolia) and the Bigroot Spring Beauty (Claytonia megarhiza) were already starting to bloom.
Fairy Primrose (Primula angustifolia) on Rogers Peak
Bigroot Spring Beauty (Claytonia megarhiza)
The Northeast Ridge lacked any remarkable distinguishing features, but the view of the surrounding area grew more interesting as we gained altitude. We could see Grays and Torreys Peaks, Argentine Peak, Squaretop Mountain, Mt. Spalding, Pikes Peak, and of course, Mt. Evans.
Lower slopes on Rogers Peak's Northeast Ridge
The upper slopes were no steeper than the lower slopes, but it gradually became rockier.
Rocky upper slopes on Rogers Peak's northeast ridge
As we approached the summit, we had to do some rock-hopping on some curiously-flattened boulders. Not all of the rocks were stable, so we chose our steps carefully.
Flattened rocks near Rogers Peak's summit
We finally reached the broad, rocky summit. The highest point was a tilted slab that rose a few feet above the rubble. While the summit was not impressive, the surrounding views made the trek worthwhile. I couldn't stop staring at the sheer cliffs below Gray Wolf Mountain. The pleasant Chicago Lakes below were directly below us. The long ridge between Mt. Spalding and Mt. Evans was majestic. Our next destination, Mt. Warren, looked like a rounded lump.
The view from Rogers Peak's summit. Mt. Evans is on the left, Mt. Spalding is on the right, and Mt. Warren is in the foreground.
Jay (left) and Todd (right) admiring the view
Greenhouseguy on the summit slab
We took plenty of time on the summit to take in the scenery. The descent to the saddle between Rogers Peak and Mt. Warren was easy until we reached some large boulders near the bottom. We picked our way through the boulders, and eventually made our way down to the rock-strewn tundra of the saddle.
Making our way down to the Warren/Rogers saddle
Looking down into Upper Chicago Lake from near the Warren/Rogers saddle. Mt. Spalding is on the left, Squaretop Mountain is in the distance in the middle, and Gray Wolf Mountain is on the right.
Finding Mount Warren's summit was simply a matter of taking the path of least resistance between the rocks. The true summit was at the end of a long, nearly level ridge.
Picking our way through the rocks on Mt. Warren's northeast ridge
Mt. Warren's summit gave us a close-up view of Mt. Evans' north face and the still-frozen Summit Lake. Dozens of people were at the lake enjoying the free admission for National Trails Day. Gray clouds started to move in, and we heard the rumble of distant thunder. It was probably a good idea to get back to treeline, which was about 2.6 miles away. Jay and Todd wanted to avoid the huge boulders at the base of Rogers Peak, so they headed down to the road to hike back to the Pesman Trail's upper trailhead. I wanted more of a wilderness experience, so I decided to head back towards Rogers Peak and skirt the summit on the northwest side. I tried to set a good pace for myself, because I thought that Jay and Todd would probably beat me back to the trailhead.
Mt. Warren's summit boulder, with Mt. Evans in the background
Mt. Evans' north face rising above Summit Lake
Route finding was much easier on the way down. I stayed close to the ridge crest, where the rocks were mostly small and easier to walk on. It just took a few minutes to get back down to the saddle.
Looking towards Rogers Peak while descending from Mt. Warren
The northwest side of Rogers Peak was kind of like Tori Spelling. It looked good from a distance, but up close it was a mess. I did some serious rock-hopping for 300 or 400 yards before the terrain smoothed out.
Rogers Peak's rocky northwest slope
Once I got past the rocks, I was able to stay on grassy tundra most of the way to the upper Pesman trailhead.
Grassy tundra on Rogers Peak's northeast ridge
As I approached the upper Pesman trailhead, I could see hikers on Mt. Goliath. I stopped to chat with some hikers, and took an extension of the nature trail that looped over Mt. Goliath's southwest ridge. I thought that the trail might turn towards the summit, but it just passed over the ridge and merged with the Pesman Trail.
Approaching Mt. Goliath on Rogers Peak's northeast ridge
I got back to the car before my hiking partners, so I took some time to check out the rock gardens at the Nature Center. Few flowers were blooming, but the White Marsh Marigold (Caltha leptosepala) and King's Crown (Rhodiola integrifolia) were leading the way.
White Marsh Marigold and King's Crown blooming in the rock garden near the Nature Center
It turned out that my fairly direct descent route was much shorter than the route that my partners took down the convoluted Mt. Evans Highway. In this case, the shorter route was more scenic as well. Rogers Peak and Mt. Warren are excellent choices for beginners or as training peaks, but the scenery will amaze even the most seasoned hiker.
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