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Uncrowded, pretty hikes near Denver?

Information on peaks other than the CO 14ers and 13ers.
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Uncrowded, pretty hikes near Denver?

Postby markoboston » Mon Aug 08, 2011 12:34 pm

I will be in Denver next week to see family but want to find a nice mountain hike one day while I am there. Note that I live very near sea level and have never lived above about 500 feet in elevation. I once summited a 14er in Colorado (Mount Yale) but that was after almost a week of acclimatization (including 3 days above 10K feet) and still I was barely able to breathe near the summit. I'm not looking to challenge my lungs this time, so I'd like to keep it not much above 11,000 feet. Are there any hikes in that elevation range within a 2-hour drive of Denver that 1) offer stunning views, 2) have some variety of vegetation (preferably some forest, not all dry grass), and 3) are not overrun with other people? An obvious choice might be the trails behind Boulder, but would that be a crowded, urban experience? By the way, I am pretty fit. I do a workout hike almost every week on a route up and down our little hills that adds up to a couple thousand feet of elevation gain over about 3 miles. On the other hand, I don't want to do any serious climbing. Thanks in advance for your tips!

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Re: Uncrowded, pretty hikes near Denver?

Postby dnye » Mon Aug 08, 2011 12:40 pm

Just did Pear Lake in RMNP this past weekend. 12 miles RT, park at the Allenspark Trailhead and you don't have to pay the RMNP Toll. It was a pretty nice hike with an alpine lake finish. You could always hike one of the 13ers around the lake if your legs were feeling fresh.

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Re: Uncrowded, pretty hikes near Denver?

Postby oldschoolczar » Mon Aug 08, 2011 12:45 pm

I think you've got the right idea considering the trails in Boulder!

I really like some of the trails in Chautauqua Park. Green Mountain summit is one of my favorites and I've done this on the weekends and only run into 4-5 people on the whole trail. You'll see far less people on this hike than any 14er near Denver! It's a great hike... I think about 3000' vertical total and 5.5 miles RT... but it tops out at about ~8500ft, so you won't feel the elevation as much as on a 14er. If you do this hike on a weekday there's a chance you won't see anyone! Even on the weekends I've had days, like I said, where I see no more than 5-10 people while on the trail (granted there's more in the parking lots down at the bottom).

I've also been wanting to try Bear Peak which is a comparable hike nearby, but I haven't done it yet. It's a good 14er training hike in the spring I would imagine. There's tons of great trails in/around Boulder. I also like Sanitas Mountain. It's very short, but it's a fun hike. I think it's only about 2-3 miles RT and maybe 1000-1500' elevation gain.

I would consider these both Class 2 hikes with little to no exposure..
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Re: Uncrowded, pretty hikes near Denver?

Postby rickinco123 » Mon Aug 08, 2011 12:46 pm

There are several hikes in Golden Gate Canyon State Park that would meet your criteria. If your route finding skills are decent you could hike to the top of Mt Thorodin ( technically you are leaving the State Park ).

At the limit of your 2 hours one of my favorite hikes is Hagerman Tunnel near leadville.

If you were willing to go to 12,000 feet that would help even more.

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Re: Uncrowded, pretty hikes near Denver?

Postby oldschoolczar » Mon Aug 08, 2011 12:50 pm

Another nice spot is at Loveland Pass.. you can hike a few nearby 13ers... Sniktau and a couple others. I know it's only like 1000-1500' to the summit of Sniktau from Loveland Pass. This is right along the Continental Divide too and you'll have great views. It's a pretty quick hike so you can gauge how you feel at altitude and retreat would be easy if you need to bail...
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Re: Uncrowded, pretty hikes near Denver?

Postby thefirststraw » Mon Aug 08, 2011 12:58 pm

You should check out Isabelle Glacier. It's about 45ish minutes outside of boulder. The trail to lake Isabelle can be somewhat crowded, but thats half the distance. Once your past the lake it is fairly solitary. Great views of the indian peaks and the glacier is beautiful.

http://www.protrails.com/trail.php?trailID=176

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Re: Uncrowded, pretty hikes near Denver?

Postby TheOtherIndian » Mon Aug 08, 2011 6:03 pm

I might be wrong, but when I visited the Brainard Lake area around March, was told the Brainard Lake access road will be closed about 1.5 miles before Brainard Lake (the winter closure continued into summer due to some construction). So this will add about 4-5 miles more in RT than suggested in the website. But Isabelle glacier hike is well worth it!!
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Re: Uncrowded, pretty hikes near Denver?

Postby traderaaron » Mon Aug 08, 2011 6:12 pm

TheOtherIndian wrote:I might be wrong, but when I visited the Brainard Lake area around March, was told the Brainard Lake access road will be closed about 1.5 miles before Brainard Lake (the winter closure continued into summer due to some construction). So this will add about 4-5 miles more in RT than suggested in the website. But Isabelle glacier hike is well worth it!!


Nope, drive right up to the Long Lake TH, after paying your $9 of course.

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Re: Uncrowded, pretty hikes near Denver?

Postby Derek » Mon Aug 08, 2011 6:12 pm

Bison Peak from Lost Park TH. You can go from the west (Ute Creek) but its much more scenic from the east I think.

--D

***EDIT: Nevermind, just saw that you said under 11K.

How about Lost Platte Peak from outside of Bailey?
http://www.14ers.com/php14ers/tripreport.php?trip=7615&parmuser=derek&cpgm=tripmain&ski=Include
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Re: Uncrowded, pretty hikes near Denver?

Postby TheOtherIndian » Mon Aug 08, 2011 6:53 pm

traderaaron wrote:
TheOtherIndian wrote:I might be wrong, but when I visited the Brainard Lake area around March, was told the Brainard Lake access road will be closed about 1.5 miles before Brainard Lake (the winter closure continued into summer due to some construction). So this will add about 4-5 miles more in RT than suggested in the website. But Isabelle glacier hike is well worth it!!


Nope, drive right up to the Long Lake TH, after paying your $9 of course.



Thats great. Should visit it again! Thanks for the info.
"There's only one thing I hate more than lying. Skim milk. Which is water that's lying about being milk" -Swanson, Ron

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Re: Uncrowded, pretty hikes near Denver?

Postby markoboston » Tue Aug 09, 2011 12:49 pm

Wow, thanks for all these suggestions. I have to say, even though it is over 12,000 feet, I am really tempted by Bison Peak, having found a few photos online, and having seen on Google's terrain view that a not-too-steep approach is possible. It just looks too spectacular to miss. A couple of questions: How many miles is the roundtrip by trail? Where in Denver could I find a decent trail map? Finally, should I expect snow up there this time of year? (Forgive me if that's a stupid question, but I haven't been in the Colorado mountains much, and I heard you got a lot of snow this year.) Thanks again!

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Re: Uncrowded, pretty hikes near Denver?

Postby Derek » Tue Aug 09, 2011 1:00 pm

markoboston wrote:Wow, thanks for all these suggestions. I have to say, even though it is over 12,000 feet, I am really tempted by Bison Peak, having found a few photos online, and having seen on Google's terrain view that a not-too-steep approach is possible. It just looks too spectacular to miss. A couple of questions: How many miles is the roundtrip by trail? Where in Denver could I find a decent trail map? Finally, should I expect snow up there this time of year? (Forgive me if that's a stupid question, but I haven't been in the Colorado mountains much, and I heard you got a lot of snow this year.) Thanks again!


Here is a trip report of the east route from Lost Park TH, just ignore the extra mountains:
http://www.14ers.com/php14ers/tripreport.php?trip=9330&parmuser=derek&cpgm=tripmain&ski=Include

How many miles is the roundtrip by trail?

I would say total distance is around 12-13 miles, about 2,500' of gain. (Never done it with just Bison, but that seems about right.)

Where in Denver could I find a decent trail map?

The Nat Geo map (Kenosha/Tarryall) can be found at any map store in Denver or at any REI, or you could probably order it online. Thats a pretty good one for that area.

Finally, should I expect snow up there this time of year?

Wont have to worry about snow up there too much until at least October...thats when it usually gets a dusting or two. Not enough snow for snowshoes until almost December probably. Clear now though.
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