Early Spring conditions in the high country are a blast if you love playing in the snow. The days are starting to get longer and the temperatures are pleasant. Denver’s proximity to Rocky Mountain National Park, Indian Peaks Wilderness and the I-70 corridor make the Mile High City a great base camp for a variety of spring-time mountain activities.
Once the snow pack stabilizes, the high country can be safe. Get an early start to avoid thunderstorms and keep an eye on the snow pack as the temperature increases. Check you local avalanche report here.
Rocky Mountain National Park
Always fun to explore the park. In the early Spring the main trails are traveled enough that snowshoes are not required. Hike to many of the Park’s lakes with no avalanche danger.
If you want to hike to the top of the Continental Divide, located just west of the parking is Flattop Mountain.
Flattop is poplar enough that most days the main trail up the east face will not require snowshoes. The trail passes through switchbacks up mostly gently terrain. The hike offers breathtaking views of heart of Rocky Mountain National Park. The north face is a fun moderate ski run and the south face holds steep couloirs including the popular dragons tail. Dragons tail is perhaps the most popular snow climb in the park.
Once the summer trailheads open for the season all the main trails out of Brainaid Lake will not require snowshoes. The low elevation lakes can be accessed without special equipment. To journey further always carry an ice ax even on low angle snow/ice.
If you want to get above treeline on the snow and do a peak, Mount Audubon’s standard route will stabilize early in the season.
Taking up a massive footprint in the Indian Peaks, Audubon is a gentle giant surrounded by rocky and jagged peaks. There are some classic steep couloirs on the south face for the climbers and skiers; for an easy hike, the southeast and east faces are very easy terrain and will stabilize quickly in the spring.
Lot of hiking opportunities to explore incredible mountains and lakes on the I-70 corridor.
Dry Gulch is one of the closest trail heads to Denver.
From the Dry Gulch Trailhead, Herman lake is a very popular day hike. Just east of the Eisenhower tunnel, Herman lake is a perfect half-day hike.
Looming above Herman Lake is the sleeper classic peak, “The Citadel”.
The Citadel looks out of place among the gentle rolling peaks that surround it. This peak is not visible from I-70 but from Loveland ski area it is obvious to the north. The Citadel is rocky, sheer and steep. Unlike most peaks, this peak has two summits that are very close to the same height. Both summits require class 3 scrambling to reach the summit. To the east, Snoopy’s Couloir is a fun couloir for climbers and skiers,
A great early season 14er is Quandary
Quandary Peak is one of the most popular 14ers during the winter and early spring months. Accessibility is the main reason for its popularity, the trailhead is right off a plowed road and the mountain is a very short distance from the trailhead. Also, the main route is safe many days during the winter and quickly stabilizes in the Spring. The couloirs on the south face are popular for climbing and skiing, the main route on that face is the Christo Couloir. This is a great peak if you have never hiked up a snow-covered 14er before.
Gear up for a spring adventure into the high country!