Stanley Mountain

Located within the Vasquez Peak Wilderness area, the hike to the summit of Stanley Mountain is a truly remarkable one. Standing at 12,521 feet, it proved to be a great challenging hike, especially considering the fact that their was still a decent amount of snow until I managed to get above treeline.

Here’s some more info about my hike that day:

  • Date Hiked: June 25th, 2019
  • Miles Hiked: 7.9 Miles
  • Total Elevation Change: 1,214 Feet
  • Summit Elevation: 12,521 Feet

Getting There

Stanley Mountain can be accessed from Berthoud Pass just off of US Highway 40. At the pass, you will find plenty of parking and restrooms. Once there, you simply have to carefully cross the highway and follow the trail as it begins its ascent into the Vasquez Peak Wilderness Area.

Alternatively, you can also access Stanley Mountain by driving to a parking area that is near the Henderson Mine and hike up from there on a well defined trail.

The Journey

From the start of the trail until I got above treeline, it was nothing but scattered patches of both snow and snow drifts. At one point, I even encountered a snow drift that was about four feet tall on the trail. So, I was pretty much forced to follow the footsteps of several other people who attempted it before I did, and even bushwhack at times too.

Scattered deep snow drifts.
A deep snow drift on the trail.

The views really started to open up above treeline. I was quite relieved to be above treeline that day because it was a genuine struggle. But it was so worth it. I’m super glad I didn’t turn around and found the motivation within me!

Looking towards the east.
Still quite a bit of snow!

Only one particularly steep section stood out to me on this hike. It looks more difficult than it actually was. And once I got past this section of zigzagging switchbacks, it was smooth sailing to the summit.

Steep switchbacks with snow at the top.

While hiking through the switchbacks, I also happened to stumble upon several Ptarmigans. Additionally, a marmot also came out of seemingly nowhere and ran up the trail ahead of me before it disappeared.

Ptarmigan out living its best life.

At the top of the switchbacks, I finally reached the top of the ridge. Right at this point, the wind started to pick up and was just absolutely brutal. Also, the snow was almost completely melted off the trail, except for one small snowfield a bit further ahead. Everything else could be easily avoided.

The journey ahead.
Looking towards the northeast.
Getting closer to the summit!

Luckily enough, the weather also held off the entire time while I was above treeline.

A picturesque day!

The Summit

Overall. the views from the summit were pretty neat. I probably sat up there for a good 15 minutes or so before I decided to explore some of the surrounding area.

Looking down on the Henderson Mine area.
Looking to the west.
The actual summit.

So before I turned around, I started to descend down towards Vasquez Pass just out of curiosity to see just how steep it was. The path down is actually well marked with cairns. Ultimately, I decided to turn around as I figured storms would start to form at anytime due to the fact that it was already almost noon.

The Return Trip

Overall, the trip back to Berthoud Pass was eventful in that it involved doing some more bushwhacking and watching some thunderstorms form nearby. Also on my way back, I noticed that their were still some cornices at the edges of several of the ridges that looked pretty deep!

Watching a storm forming to the south.
Pretty big cornice.
Getting closer to Berthoud Pass.

Overall, I really enjoyed this hike. I will most likely hike out this way again when I head up to Vasquez Peak later on this summer. I’d definitely recommend this hike to anybody too. It was hard but not overwhelming at all. It was a pretty rewarding 12er with great views nearly the entire way too. Definitely a day well spent!

Mount Flora

During the last full weekend of this past August, I decided to just pack up all my hiking gear in the car and set out for an adventure. I had no specific trail in mind that morning and a full tank of gas. About an hour later I found myself at Berthoud Pass outside of Winter Park, Colorado. Having driven past it numerous times, I figured today might as well be the day that I stop and explore this particular area. Considering that it was still really nice outside, I was quite surprised to find plenty of parking spots too.

The Continental Divide Trail runs through here as it spans from Montana in the north to New Mexico in the south.

Because I didn’t really have any kind of specific plan for that day, I decided to just walk around at the trailhead and see what kinds of trails were accessible via Berthoud Pass before I made any kind of final decision.

If you cross Route 40 from the parking lot, you have several options. You can either choose to embark on either the Berthoud Pass Trail or the Stanley Mountain Trail. If you choose to stay on the side that the parking lot is on, you have even more choices to pick from. The Colorado Mines Peak Trail is a fairly short hike if you don’t have a whole lot of time but still want that feeling of being high amongst the mountains and is on the way to the summit of Mount Flora.

However, I had plenty of time and decided to make this hike as worthwhile as I possibly could. With that being said, I chose to take the Mount Flora trail and possibly go even further than that if both time and weather permitted.

The sign pointing the way to the Mount Flora trail from Berthoud Pass.

Towards the beginning, I found myself going up numerous switchbacks that seemed like they were never going to end. Before too long, the numerous mountains nearby started to become more visible offering excellent views.

One of the first views you get of the surrounding mountains.
Another view from a little further up the trail.

After you get through the switchbacks, the trail becomes quite well defined and you really start to get an idea about where you are going. Despite being the last full weekend of August, small patches of snow were still visible from the past winter. It’s kind of crazy to think about considering how hot it was over the course of the entire summer, Nonetheless, the trail meanders its way up the mountain and you can even see people further off into the distance. From here, you still have quite a way to go before reaching the summit.

The beginning of the well defined trail.
The trail as it meanders by the edge of a cliff off in the distance.

As you can see from the photos, this hike is not too difficult and can easily be done without the help of trekking poles. The only area that you might possibly need them would be for navigating a small area closer towards the summit where some boulders can be found. The closer I got to the summit, I was beginning to hear pikas and even had a marmot run right in front of me across the trail. . In addition to that, it also starts to become much windier with each passing step. With that in mind, I would definitely recommend dressing in layers simply for that reason.

Looking back at Colorado Mines Peak.
Looking towards the mountains.

Upon reaching the summit, you will see a trail that leads further down that if taken will lead you to Bill Moore Lake. But before you do anything, make sure to take sometime and take in the scenery from the summit. At the summit, you will notice some rock wind shelters as well as some cairns. If you look down directly below into the valley, you will see Ethel lake which is fed from all of the runoff coming off of the nearby mountains. Additionally, you will also see that you can hike further onto other peaks such as Mount Eva, Parry Peak as well as Mount Bancroft. Although I did not get a chance to hike further on that day due to time constraints, I do plan on going back sometime soon.

Ethel Lake fed from the melting snow of the surrounding mountains.
Another view from the summit.
Looking towards the other peaks in the area that you can hike to.

More Information

Mount Flora is 13,146 feet in elevation and is rated as a class 2 mountain. The summit can actually be seen when you are heading west on Interstate 70 from Denver in the vicinity of Floyd Hill. It does get quite windy so make sure to dress accordingly and to keep an eye out for changing weather conditions as well.

From the Berthoud Pass Trailhead, the round trip distance is just under 6.5 miles with a net elevation gain of 1,825 feet. Overall, this was a really enjoyable hike along the Continental Divide and I look forward to doing it again in the near future as well as going further onto the other nearby peaks.