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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.