We were at two high trailheads in Northern Colorado this past week.
The first was the Colorado River Trailhead on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park. Technically, this trailhead is low in elevation (9,005') but it accesses the high terrain of the Never Summer Mountains. The trailhead is located at the Trail Ridge closure point north of the Kuwanechee visitor center. The trail is dry for the 1/2 mile to the intersection with the Red Mountain trail that leads to the Grand Ditch. At approximately 9,500'+ you begin to encounter more consistent snow and just above this one can skin on snow to the Grand Ditch. The Ditch then traverses along the base of the Never Summer Mountains from north to south.
Speaking of the Grand Ditch, it is usually left unplowed and melts off in the spring. Due to a landslide, the road serving the ditch has been plowed to get heavy equipment to the construction zone. This construction is north of Mosquito Creek. This means that the Ditch road is dirt and hike-able from the Holzworth Historic Site in Rocky Mountain National Park.
The second trailhead was the Blue Lake and Sawmill Creek Trailhead near Cameron Pass on Highway 14. We went up the Sawmill Creek Trailhead, but parked at Blue Lake. The snow started right off of Highway 14 at the Sawmill Creek Trailhead. No need to hike in on dirt yet! You can ski from the top of the peaks to Highway 14.
High Road Access Update
Guanella Pass (11,670') - The word is that the pass opened this morning. Guanella Pass connects Georgetown and the I-70 corridor to Grant, Highway 285, and the North Fork of the South Platte River. The pass is a high trailhead with access to Mount Evans, Mount Bierstadt, and Square Top Mountain. For information on Guanella Pass call 303-679-2422 and press 2.
Mount Evans Road (12,836' and 14,130') - We have heard that Mount Evans Road is now plowed to just below the summit (14,130'), but it will open this weekend to Summit Lake (12,836'). This road has two great access points. Summit Lake at 12,836' is the entry point to Mount Evan's North Face Routes and Mount Spalding. The summit access enables you to ski the North Face routes without climbing them first... gulp! Early in the "open" season the road is susceptible to being closed in the morning due to hazardous conditions created by melting snow freezing over night on the road surface.
Trail Ridge Road (12.183') - Severe weather kept the Park Service from opening Trail Ridge Road on Friday. Call the recorded status line for details and opening: 970-586-1222. Hopefully the weather improves and the plowed road is opened this Memorial Day Weekend.