In addition to the great hiking and camping near Denver, there is also great mountain scrambling. These routes are a little more committing but if you are looking to get off the main trail and enjoy the full mountain experience, these route will not disappoint.
- Iron Gates, Mount Meeker – A very fun scramble with incredible views of Long’s Peak. To find this route leave from the Long’s Peak Trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park. Hike to turnoff to Chasm Lake and start looking west towards the north face of Meeker. The north face is rugged terrain made up of sheer cliffs, keep an eye out for a break in the cliffs. This massive chasm (the iron gates) allows a class 2 hike to the summit ridge. Once on the summit ridge, the crux comes fast, an awkward down climb with massive exposure must be addressed to access the knife-edge traverse to the summit. The knife-edge traverse is relatively easy and the rock quality is great. The knife-edge portion of this route is visible from nearly everywhere in Denver’s front range. Decent the Loft route (see Clark’s Arrow)
- Clark’s Arrow, Long’s Peak – This complicated and exposed route is on the opposite side of the mountain than the Keyhole route and is very quiet in comparison. Hike towards Chasm lake (don’t go to the lake), follow the trail straight up to the saddle between Long’s Peak and Mount Meeker. The trail turns to talus and steepens, follow the path of least resistance, make no move harder than 4th class or you are off route. A massive ledge cuts diagonally and upward to the east, this will delivery you to the top of the saddle. That section is referred to as The Loft. To find Clark’s Arrow, head southwest over the massive expanse between Long’s and Meeker. Clarks Arrow is a long down climb into Kiplinger Couloir, finding the correct gully has turned around many parties. The scramble down Clark’s Arrow is mostly 3rd class. Once that is complete hike up Kiplinger’s couloir, skirt the summit block heading west on a massive ledge to a long slab. The slab is the homestretch section of the Keyhole route. To get from the ledge onto the homestretch requires exposed 4th class scrambling that is not obvious. (probably the crux). Finish the homestretch to the summit and descend the Keyhole route.
- Ridge Traverse between North and South Arapaho Peak – This is a classic scramble that crosses the most dominating peaks of Boulder’s mountainous backdrop. Hike South Arapahoe from the Fourth of July Trailhead. The route is obvious from the summit of South Arapahoe. The exposure to the east of the ridge is massive, but all the climbing is on the west side of the ridge. The views of the Arapaho glacier are stunning. Once the summit of North Arapaho is reached, descend via the same route. Great rock and easy route finding.
- North Ridge of Neva – Start at Fourth of July Trailhead and take that trail up to the Continental divide. (Arapahoe Pass) Just above a stunning alpine lake, the north ridge of Neva is obvious. Access the ridge at its northern terminus. The rock is good and the terrain is mostly a 3rd class scramble. The last 50 feet are steeper to gain the summit plateau and is rated 4th class. The route is more difficult on either side of the 4th class section, so attention to finding the easiest way up is important. Descend the easy south slope of the peak into the valley below and a short bushwhack gets you back to the trail.
- Standard route on The Citadel – The Citadel is one of the most rugged looking peaks on Denver’s front range. The standard route is very casual and is just mostly a class 2 hike. The Citadel is unique in that it has two summits. The western summit can reached via class easy 3 but the mighty east summit will require some hard 3rd class moves. From the Dry Gulch trailhead follow the trail into the massive chasm that splits the east summit from the west summit. At the top of the rugged gully is where the scramble starts. For the east summit, scramble up a near vertical rock face for 20 feet on big holds, easy talus gets you to the top. For the western summit scramble up the obvious easy looking corner to the top. Get both summits to complete the mission!
If you need to rent hiking boots or hiking poles, stop by the Outdoors Geek outdoor retail store in Denver, Colorado!