“Ridgeline traverse of x4 13ers and x2 14ers. Doesn't get much better than that!
— aaron moore
Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
This strenuous route is a great way to tick some of Colorado's most popular 14ers off your list, all while using less popular trails. Unless you're part machine, this route should be done as a shuttle, so arrange to have a vehicle at both the starting and ending points.
Need to Know
- There is no water along this trail as you are above all the lakes. Depending on the time of year, there may still be snow...
- I did this as a point to point and hitchhiked my way back to Loveland. I had to end up hiking most of the road back up Loveland as no one wanted to pick me up until someone finally did! Doing a shuttle is preferable.
- When you get to Guanella... you could always go up Mt. Bierstadt... you are so close...
- This is a highly exposed (weather-wise) route. If you aren't feeling it, probably the best time to ditch the effort is going down the Grays and Torreys Peaks
trail and trying to hitch a ride back to I-70.
This route can be completed from either Loveland to Guanella or vice versa, whichever you prefer. The description here is for Loveland to Guanella. This trail is a high ridge line traverse of some fantastic front range peaks.
The trail starts on the south side of Loveland Pass and starts steep right away on the Mt. Sniktau Trail
. You'll top out on your first bump on the ridge line after roughly 0.85 mile and about 900 ft of elevation gain. I wasn't kidding when I say this hike starts out quick!
Your next goal is to transition to the Torreys West Ridge Trail
, and climb to the top of Grizzly Peak
, your first of four 13ers for the day. From that first bump on the ridge it is 2 miles to the top of Grizzly. The ski area you see below you and to the north is Arapahoe Basin, a really fun ski area that some years stay open until the 4th of July. Once you are done taking in the views, you have a scree filled descent to the saddle of Grizzly and Torreys Peak.
The ascent of the backside of Torreys is a straightforward, but a slog and a half! According to google earth in 1.1 miles you'll gain 1600 feet of elevation!!! Just to remind you, that is not starting at sea level, you are starting at 12,500 and going up over 14,000 feet! Depending on when you started and your pace, Torreys is the probably the first time you'll see people. The Grays and Torreys Peaks
is a very popular route for people to train and to get in their first fourteener experience.
After Torreys you have a fun descent and then you guessed it, a fun climb up the Grays Peak Trail where you'll top out at 14,278. From here, you want to descend the switchbacks on the face of Grays Peak or via a portion of the CDT: Argentine Pass to Herman Gulch \(CO Sec. 30\), keeping in mind that you want to eventually get back on the ridge. After descending several switchbacks, you'll see the CDT continuing to head up to the ridge and towards Mt. Edwards. Most likely this is the last time you'll see people until close to Guanella Pass.
The ridge to Mt. Edwards will most likely be a little slower due to the blocky scrambling you'll be doing. It is completely safe, but you did just hike two fourteeners. Once you reach Argentine Pass, you'll depart from the CDT and make your way onto the Argentine Pass to Squaretop Mountain
Once on top, the ridge somewhat opens up and makes its way to Argentine Peak. This is a broad rolling summit and hardly noticeable as just another bump on your ridge traverse. At the top, you'll see your last major ascent of the day, to the top of Square Top Peak. You'll still be on the Argentine Pass to Squaretop Mountain
trail, and you'll stick to this trail until you reach the summit.
After finally getting to the top, make your way across the large summit and descend 3.5 miles on the Squaretop Mountain Scramble
and the South Park Trail
to finally reach Guanella Pass.
Flora & Fauna
As always, depending on the time of year, you may see lots of wildflowers.