SUMMERFUN: Reach for it — Climba13er


    Oxygen isn’t for everybody. Then again, neither is the final 1,000-foot slog required to summit any of the state’s 14,000-foot peaks. Resorting to a happy medium is fine.

    For those outdoor enthusiasts averse to sucking wind atop the region’s nearly 60 14ers — or just morally opposed to crowds of Jerries slurping down packets of Goo and whacking their just-purchased trekking poles — there are plenty of slightly shorter mountains with equally inspiring views and fewer toe shoe-wearing jabronis.

    From the Sangre de Cristos to the nearby Front Range, there are more than 600 peaks across Colorado that boast an amenable summit between 13,000 and 14,000 feet above sea level. The sprawling network of mountaintops gives weekend warriors a far better chance at finding some much-desired solitude, though the state’s constant influx of wide-eyed transplants makes that increasingly difficult.

    Just a two-hour drive A-Town, Byers Peak just outside of Fraser makes for an accessible and validating tally on the 13er score card. Despite a popularity that lures myriad peak baggers, Byers boasts a reasonable, seven-mile roundtrip hike speckled with palatial views of Grand County. After about two, heavily-wooded miles on a dirt road, the jaunt gets cooking after about a half mile on a forested path and a final, high-alpine stretch to the summit. The trailhead is accessible via a series of Forrest Roads off of Highway 40.

    Another favorite relatively close to Aurora is Mummy Mountain, located in Rocky Mountain National Park beside Estes Park. Though definitively demanding with a total length of about 16 miles, the hike up Mummy is quiet, removed and downright pleasant when approaching on the northwest face. Hikers can begin their trek up Mummy by entering Rocky Mountain National Park using the Fall River entrance and then meandering to the Lawn Lake trailhead.

    Though less frequented, Colorado’s 13,000-foot peaks still require gobs of respect, preparation and endurance. A mild altitude haircut doesn’t make these beats any less susceptible to freak thunderstorms that bring divine bouts of hail, lightning and rain. Like any hiking blog with any sort of decent will report, bring layers, food, and enough water to make you say, “Alright, this might be too much.” It won’t be.

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