Peak(s):  Pikes Peak  -  14,110 feet
Date Posted:  11/07/2010
Modified:  08/08/2013
Date Climbed:   11/06/2010
Author:  rajz06

 Crags To Pikes Saga  

I started about half a mile from the Crags campground which used to be the old trailhead location. Parking at the campground is no longer allowed for unauthorized vehicles so I parked by the side of the main dirt road and figured I'd save about a mile by starting there versus the new trailhead. Soon I was at the junction that is now marked with a sign showing the route separation, and proceeded to cross the stream on the first log bridge.

Log bridge

Within minutes, I encountered the first snow on the trail as I made my way through the dense pine forest. At this point, I wasn't sure how much of a threat the snow would be as I pressed on.

Snow on the trail

My first challenge was the long steep stretch around 11,000 feet which is steeper than it looks in this picture and a good precursor for the tougher pitches that lay ahead.

First steep stretch

The trail then meanders through the pines making its way up the beautiful hillside strewn with boulders breaking the monotony of the pines.

Trail through the pines

Pines and boulders

Approaching treeline, the trail gradually climbs southeast as it strains to the top of the grassy knoll.

Grassy knoll

As I neared the top, I caught my first glimpse of the most visited peak in North America, looking like nothing more than a small mound from that perspective!

First glimpse of the peak

As the trail flattened out, I got a much needed respite and enjoyed the lovely views of the valley to the south:

View of the valley to the south

and through the rock towers passageway looking right at the peak.

Pikes view through the towers

The trail doesn't get serious again until past Devil's Playground so I took the opportunity to fortify myself with a snack. In this view taken just past Devil's Playground, you can see Point 13,363 and Pikes Peak in the background.

Point 13,363 and Pikes

While the snow was relatively light and scattered, there were a couple of traverses that required some negotiating like this icy ledge bordering a steep overlook to the east.

Icy ledge

The traverse skirting the east side of Point 13,363 also had some snow accumulation on its east face but the snow was packed and posed no real traction issues.

East face of Point 13,363

There were two final pitches to overcome before the saga would be over and the trail from this point was well marked with cairns.


The first of the two was a traverse across a grassy boulder field.

The penultimate pitch

Tundra and rocks

The final pitch starts at 13,400 feet and climbs the Class 2 talus notable for its characteristic pink granite.

The Talus

Pink Granite

Finally, the guard rail just below the summit sprung into view and spurred me on to the summit.

Oh so near!

I took a moment here to bask in the glorious sun and marvel at the spectacular views of the snow-capped Sawatch mountains to the northwest.

View of the Sawatchers

The summit as always was a gaggle of tourists, children and dogs.

Summit crowd

But there was one special bushy-tailed visitor worthy of mention.

Special visitor

I wonder which trail he took to the top!

Here is yours truly, tired but triumphant.

Yours truly

This marked my sixth ascent of the peak, the most of any of Colorado's fourteeners. My love affair of these magnificent mountains that started on Barr trail in the fall of 1997 has raged unabated and in its fourteenth year is now stronger than ever. Climbing these mountains and marveling at their beauty up close has given me a joy that I couldn't possibly put in words and in that regard Pikes will always have a special place in my heart.

The Magnificent Sawatch

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions
Brian C

Nice day
11/07/2010 23:35
One of my coldest hikes ever was Crags in November a few years ago. Wonder what that fox was doing up there! Donuts?

James Scott

Great Pics
11/08/2010 02:31
Did the fox drive up, or take the train?


11/08/2010 02:56
I would have expected more snow then that, great pictures!


11/08/2010 17:55
I hiked up Pikes Peak via the Crags back in June and also saw a fox (around 13,000 feet). He acted more like a dog than a wild animal. Even wagged it's tail like a dog. Strange !


Nice Report!
11/08/2010 20:08
Living in Colorado Springs I find Pikes calling to me frequently. I have climbed up and down from Manitou Springs five times and twice from the Craigs. Thanks for sharing all the pics from your journey, it is almost like I did it again (without the aches and pains to follow)


We saw you!
11/09/2010 20:05
Great report! Hey, we were the couple just behind of you on the way back and in front of you during the ascent (in fact we show up in Picture 11) I had the feeling you were taking pics for the trip report, good job! Yes, that fox was something, so tame...


11/12/2010 21:41
Kitten, I wondered if you might catch me online, and you did!

DScott49, we do share the same love-hate relationship with Pikes.

Indeed, it is a small world and we have these magnificent mountains and this great site to thank for that.

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