Suggestions for first summit with kids

Information on peaks other than the CO 14ers and 13ers.
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Suggestions for first summit with kids

Postby zclobes » Fri Feb 24, 2012 5:36 pm

I have two kids (ages 5 and 8) that I want to get on top of a summit this summer. Neither are particularly excited about the prospect, but I'm hoping that getting them on top will change their outlook a little bit.

I've been up multiple 14ers over the past 3 years, but the kids aren't particularly ambitious... so I'm looking for a short hike (less than 1 mile), and a short ascent (400-800'). I basically need something easy enough that I can take minimal food/water, so that if need be, I can carry one of them on my shoulders.

The ideal peak in my mind would be 12.5k, with a trail-head at 12.0k, 3/4 of a mile away, Class 1. The location is flexible, but something in the collegiate peaks area would be desirable. I have a high-clearance vehicle and am not afraid to use it, but I can't risk spooking the kids.



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Re: Suggestions for first summit with kids

Postby Jesse M » Fri Feb 24, 2012 5:45 pm

Only thing I can think of might be:

Pikes Peak, park at Devils Playground. This might be more than a mile, but you could use goodies from the summit store for motivation.

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Re: Suggestions for first summit with kids

Postby ChrisinAZ » Fri Feb 24, 2012 6:04 pm

This is a bit longer of a hike, depending, but Greenhorn Mountain south of Pueblo is a really nice, fairly gentle low 12er with sweeping views toward Pikes and the Crestones. It's a bit of a drive down some long, but easy 2WD dirt roads. Getting to the true summit is about 2 miles, with most of that fairly flat and a final climb of ~500'. Alternatively, you could just charge straight up the side of the ridge near the trailhead (about 800') and crest out--it's an enjoyable walk over to the summit that way too. This is class 2 with some talus once you're off the trail, but is pretty manageable.
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Re: Suggestions for first summit with kids

Postby Jim Davies » Fri Feb 24, 2012 9:25 pm

Where are you? Have you considered a lower summit, rather than taking them directly to timberline for their first hike? There are lots of lower-altitude hikes of various lengths near the front range cities, surely you could something good for starters. My kids were climbing Mt Cutler (7200', Colorado Springs) and Mt Herman (9000', Monument) when the younger was about 4, and we worked up to their first 13er and 14er a couple years later. The big challenge will be keeping them interested and not feeling like it's a chore rather than a fun outing.
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Re: Suggestions for first summit with kids

Postby Kent McLemore » Sat Feb 25, 2012 7:38 am

When our children were young they preferred "scrambling" to going for a peak. Lost Creek Wilderness is a great area for kids that age. Ours didn't want to leave . Now they aim for the peaks. There are tons of old threads on the subject.

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Re: Suggestions for first summit with kids

Postby zclobes » Sat Feb 25, 2012 8:09 am

Good points Jim. We are from Kansas (elevation 1500) so yes elevation is certainly a concern. They generally make it to the mountains 1-2 times per year, and have never shown any issues with altitude. We tend to find ourselves backroading and hiking between 9-11k'. Definitely worth considering though. We'll only be up there for about 4 days this year, and hiking probably on the 3rd day.

And regarding the boredom, yes that's another component of my <1 mile requirement. If they're tired, sore, and bored, they'll never push themselves to the top.

Ozarkmac mentioned scrambling... The younger one would like it, but the older one I'm afraid would be scared of slipping and plunging to her terrible, dramatic death. She has a bit of a hypocondriac influence on her... [-(

I might be able to pull off small talus, assuming there's no exposure. I was up Mt. Democrat a couple of years ago, and I don't think there's any way that they would climb over the large rocks on a path like that Is there a term for that type of path?

Thanks for the input... I appreciate it.


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Re: Suggestions for first summit with kids

Postby MuchosPixels » Sat Feb 25, 2012 9:47 am

Hi, The Barr Trail in Colorado Springs is nice, but it can crowded up to the Incline spur but its nice, has great views! You can go as far as you (or they!) want. There are very good views along the way. The drive up to Pike's Peak is a must. There are several hikes off the road. Also, Loveland Pass is a must do, again, several hikes start from the parking lot. Same with Independence Pass. There are also awesome Hikes in RMNP.

I would start with Colorado Springs due to its lower altitude and go west from there.

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Re: Suggestions for first summit with kids

Postby MtHurd » Sat Feb 25, 2012 10:30 am

The Baldwin Gulch road probably won't qualify as a road that won't spook them, but you can drive to either 13,000 or 13,800 ft. and hike on an easy trail to the summit of Antero.

Greenhorn Mountain might be a good one for them with outstanding views.

It would be a drive depending on where you live, but Gold Hill from Goose Lake near Red River, NM would be perfect for them. There is an 8 mile 4x4 road to get to it that they have smoothed out recently that shouldn't spook them. Outstanding views from the summit. Overlooks Taos Ski Valley and includes views of Wheeler Peak, Culebra Peak, Blanca Peak, and even the Crestones.
Last edited by MtHurd on Sat Feb 25, 2012 10:34 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Suggestions for first summit with kids

Postby madbuck » Sat Feb 25, 2012 10:32 am

I like the Independence Pass suggestion, Unnamed 13500 is a fun, mellow hike with a trail up to the summit boulders -- but the summit hike would be 1400' gain. Possibly worth it for an out-and-back that may or may not include the summit -- still great views, marmots, snowfields, etc.

If your car can handle it, and it's something you'd enjoy, you could consider driving up Mosquito Pass, and hike up Mt. Evans B. That's 'only' 400' gain, but is above 13k feet. There isn't a maintained Class 1 trail, but there are bare spots among easy talus. The radio towers/antennas are ugly, but might be an interesting distraction for the kids -- and the views in both directions are fantastic. Here, you'd get views of the Sawatch, but would still be just East of them...and cool mining buildings to check out on the Leadville side.

Cottonwood Pass, and Ptarmigan Lake/Jones Mt., are just a bit longer and higher than you mentioned, but might be worth a look (the lake and saddle could be a good shorter hike).

So neither of the above are in the 400-800' gain/Sawatch/12-12,500' suggestions you were looking for.

As for Pikes, which is even farther outside the parameters -- I (like many) love the Barr trail, but disdain the summit and the road. I'm afraid (and I've seen kids comment on this) that hiking to the summit is perplexing -- "Why didn't we just drive?" and "Are all mountains like this on top?" -- so they get a confused view of summits. Then again, there are donuts!

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Re: Suggestions for first summit with kids

Postby Artvandalay » Sat Feb 25, 2012 10:38 am

+1 on Baldwin Gulch.

If you're set on a 14er and considering you're criteria, this is the only option. Pikes and Evans are both roads. Not really trails. You're kids wont feel like they're out in nature. Antero is great if you have the vehicle for it and they'll still feel like they're in the middle of nowhere. Plus, you mentioned wanting something in the Collegiate Peak area.
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Re: Suggestions for first summit with kids

Postby zclobes » Sat Feb 25, 2012 3:19 pm

Hmmm.. I'm liking the Jones Mt idea. I'm very familiar with the Cottonwood, and the location would be very convenient from our intended camping spot.

I wasn't quite clear though... what is the distance and ascent to get either on the ridge, or the peak of Jones Mt?

I tried the Mosquito pass a couple of years ago from the west side, and my Grand Cherokee wouldn't make it. Not sure if the east side of that pass is any better. I'm afraid that even if it was passable, I might have a couple of sobbing bundles of joy in the backseat, making the trek a moot point.. ;-)


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Re: Suggestions for first summit with kids

Postby Rarefied » Sun Feb 26, 2012 11:35 am

In looking at your criteria, three ideas came to mind (all are Class 1 trails):

[1] From the north side of Cottonwood Pass, follow the trail to Pt. 12,581' (more or less due east of the pass). That clocks in at ~500 vertical feet and 0.8 miles one way.

[2] Going south from the same pass is a high spot at about 12,560'. That, too, is about 500' vertically and 0.5 mile one way. In both cases, the views are certainly worth it.

[3] About one mile down the west side of Independence Pass is a trailhead right at the sharp hairpin turn. Follow the signs to Linkins Lake (~500' vertically and 0.5 mile each way). While not a summit, a high alpine lake might be of interest to the kids and there are solid views of several nearby peaks as well.



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