Peak(s):  McCurdy Mountain - 12,168 feet
Date Posted:  03/16/2013
Date Climbed:   03/15/2013
Author:  piper14er
 McCurdy Mountain - Standard Route  

McCurdy Mountain
Lost Creek Wilderness
Elevation: 12,168'
CO Peak Rank: 1211
39.2194N, 105.4683W

Mileage: 15.4 miles
Vertical: 3600 feet elevation difference from Twin Eagles Trailhead at 8,580) to the summit at 12,168 plus an additional 1200 feet +/- in gains and loss along the way and back
Roundtrip Time: approximately 11 hours

Directions: from Highway 24 take CR 77 14 +/- miles north of Lake George towards Tarryall Reservoir

There are some Bison-McCurdy reports from other trails so I thought would add on from this route.

It was supposed to be a great weather day (which it was) and since I don't have any 13ers closer than 3 1/2 to 4 hours' drive left, not counting the handful left in the Sangres, which would be a long trek, I have been driving closer to home. There are a number of peaks from 8ers up to 12ers in the Tarryall/LCW area and I have been hitting those lately (not counting a try at 13er Fairview which was very cold and belly deep snow with snowshoes). It is a nice area with some very interesting peaks and rock formations

I had been thinking of Peak X, etc. but decided at the last second to go for McCurdy Mountain. It was the last second as I was laying there in bed thinking "what peak to do today". After getting started later than should be I made it to the trailhead and started just a little past 9:00 am. That late start turned out to have a return after dark but with a weak headlamp and the dog to lead the way along the Brookside McCurdy Trail being a much used, wide and groomed trail, it was not a big deal

I opted to take a chance that I would not need snowshoes since this area is bereft of any real snow and it worked for the most part. The trail had little or no snow up to 10,600 and a lot of it was 4-6" deep after that. I think that there was about 3 miles of the trek that snowshoes may have helped as I pushing through knee deep snow. The snow was not consolidated anywhere. There were a few areas that were drifted or deeper but not too much

The trail starts from the campground (closed for the winter) so park at the county road and walk down to the start. Cross the bridge and turn left following the trail to an intersection and register at 0.4 miles. Turn left and follow Trail 607 as it circumnavigates a private ranch and property. The trail heads around the right side of the ranch and bends around to the left. Pass the Hankins Pass Trail turnoff at approximately another 1.4 miles and continue on the Brookside-McCurdy Trail another 1 mile more or less to the Lost Creek Wilderness boundary sign


Puka Man along the trail

Rock Formations along the way


Once past the wilderness sign you will start to gain some elevation as you follow the trail as it switches back and forth. There are ups and downs along the trail and when you get up higher. The following graph shows this

You will get to approximately 10,700 where you will need to follow the trail as it drops down to the meadow/wetlands area about 150-200 feet. You can see the open area through the trees up ahead just before you start down

Once down to the low area cross over from the right to the left side of the meadow/wetlands following the trail along the west side for a while. The trail will start gaining elevation again as it meanders up to the next pass above McCurdy Park. There is a sign that is laying down that point to Trail 607 and the McCurdy Trail that keeps going north. The sign (so what now)

I was using a trip report for some assistance and it said to descend a little as the trail then will turn to the left. Unfortunately with the snow that was there this did not help. I did descend for a little ways but there was not a trail going left. I believe that turning left immediately at the sign was the way to go. I ended up cutting off to the left a bit farther down towards McCurdy Park and that just ended up with me wallowing through some deep snow and ending up with some very nasty bushwhacking that was not necessary. You should head towards the rocky ridge to the left side of the picture

I figured the better way to go on the way back down so if you use the gpx follow the return route both ways. As a matter of fact on my return I popped out of the trees right at the fallen sign.

Anyway here is some of the interesting route heading up (that can be avoided). Bushwhacked to the gap in the rocks

You can see this is really thick with aspens and rocks so go down the other way (shown later)

The gap

Rocks extending up to the sky

Once through this gap I turned to the right and scrambled through this bit of a maze

A nice look back down

The hardest part is over but once up the maze you still have about a mile to go by the time you cross the bowl (the report I had said it was a flat plateau but I think it is more of a bowl) and work your way around the north side. It may be me but I went around to the right side of the rock formation to get to the summit but it looks like you could go left of the high point and work around that way too. It might save a few tenths of a mile. Once you get around to the right side go between the rock formations. There is a grassy way through, that gets you there

A tree and rock that I liked

The next gap is a nice grassy one (looks like a dog's head to me, K-9 in Doctor Who, the rock to the right looking at my dog

The peak centered and highlighted by the rocks with a small roundish cloud directly above

As I look back the dog's head now looks like a bird's head

A picture (one of many I had) of rocks with the Sawatch Range behind

A closer look at McCurdy Mountain ( I went right to a point directly below the left side of the large cloud - how is that for a description)

Rocks with Bison Peak top left

I was worried about the late start and after getting off track from trying to figure out the report I had I was at one point thinking of trying another day but I had put enough effort into this that I kept going. I knew how the rock formations on Bison Peak looked, having done that before and my perseverance today was rewarded likewise.

I looked back at the gap I had come through and that is when I thought "bowl" (can you see the gap?)


The highest point is pretty much left center of the formation and is climbed from the north side from either of two ways once you get around to the north side. I went up on the south side of the high point and down a crack on the other side. There are no difficult moves either way.

The summit register plastic jar (no register or lid)


The crack


I went down this way which was a lot easier. You do need to wind your way through the rocks but it is okay. I looked back from the descent

As you look down the Brookside-McCurdy Trail is below on the area of the pass that looks like the "death zone"

I did find the trail (or maybe it was really Billie Jean who found it)

Stark view

It took me 6+ hours up including off trail and bad route time. It took 4 hours back down with a better way. I spent maybe 30 minutes wandering around, spotting and leaving the wife a message about being late

I was fortunate that there was not too much snow as this would be a lot more work with more snow

I was looking at the gpx map in this report and South Tarryall looks nice and close to the trailhead, I will have to see if you can get there from there

My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

03/17/2013 12:13
McCurdy is one of my favorite LCW peaks and you did a GREAT job of documenting the route. Love the rock pics.


Marvelous place!
03/17/2013 23:11
I was just exposed to this marvelous place last year! Yeah, the rock formations are really interesting! Thanks for showing it to me in a different season!


rock on
03/17/2013 23:44

Vermont Mike

South Tarryall
03/18/2013 02:09
Nice work on getting up there! I've had bad luck in both my attempts on McCurdy. If memory serves me right, South Tarryall was pretty straightforward from Spruce Grove (which I think is a little shorter than it would be going from Twin Eagles). On descent I bushwhacked down South Tarryall's south slopes, which turned out to be pretty slow going. Lake Park Peak is a nice one in the area.


South Tarryall
03/19/2013 01:31
I will be looking at those other peaks, thanks.


Billie Jean ...
03/19/2013 18:17
Oh, yeah, and the other photos are good too. Thanks for posting. Happy trails!


good to hear from you
03/20/2013 00:58
thanks Presto from me and especially Billie Jean

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