The foothills west of Boulder are a very visible feature of town. For many miles towards the east, the high plains go forth. Vast, rolling and wide. At the western edge of town? A dramatic and abrupt uplift. You can see with your own eyes where the Rockies begin and the Great Plains end.
Hiking the crest of this ridge is needless to say popular in our little town. On a sunny weekend day, you will see many hikers, runners (and dogs!) on the summits of the peaks that dominate the Boulder skyline.
There is one peak, though, that is at the southern edge of this ridge. A peak that gets little use. For it is a trail-less peak that is not in the Boulder Open Space system.
Eldorado Mountain has been something d-low and I have been talking about for a year. Is it in the HCA? Is it on private land? How do we access it? Etc. It is a mountain we definitely wanted to explore.
So, due to the organization of Mr. DiLorenzo, six of us tackled the peak (Ian, Steve, Ben, Wendy, d-low, and myself) . At 7 miles and perhaps 3000' elev gain we figured it would not be a difficult hike. But we forgot a few things – off trail hiking over talus and thick trees can be slow…when over snow…we it gets dark early. 🙂
The first part of the hike was easy. We used the popular Rattlesnake Gulch trail in Eldorado Canyon State Park. Besides enjoying some nice views towards the Plains, highlights include seeing the ruins of an old hotel.
After this pleasant stroll, the hike began in earnest. We scrambled up the side of the mountain over the snow covered talus. After some effort, we were treated to seldom seen views of South Boulder and Bear Peaks.
I am Steve! Steve of the Mountain People!
South Boulder and Bear Peaks
We then scrambled some more and then through some thick brush at a slower-than-expected pace. We finally reached the summit and enjoyed the views towards the snow covered Indian Peaks. The day was cold and windy, so we did not stay long.
But the hike was only half over. We still had to get down the mountain.
Wendy and d-low enjoying the summit
Daylight was running out; but we were all experienced people and did not really worry. Instead, we enjoyed the wonderful lighting in the canyon and the alpen glow of the setting sun.
The real trail was reached just at dark and we then made it to our vehicles.
Afterwards Wendy, d-low and myself made our way to Southern Sun for some well deserved burgers and beers.
It was an amazing hike in the sense that though we were close to town, it really seemed like a wilderness experience. We only saw two hikers all day and did not see anyone once we left the trail. Going off trail make the common and well known areas an adventure. And hiking to a peak we have never done lets us see our town in a new and different way.
A wonderful day!