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If you're feeling frothy and the weather is looking good, why not go for all four Baldy peaks?


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Map Key

11.6

Miles

18.7

KM

Lollipop

12,852' 3,917 m

High

11,044' 3,366 m

Low

3,211' 979 m

Up

3,218' 981 m

Down

10%

Avg Grade (6°)

58%

Max Grade (30°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Views

Overview

This route summits South Baldy, Middle Baldy Mountain, Middle Baldy, and North Baldy for an awesome day with incredible views up high in the West Elks!

Description

If you're feeling frothy and the weather is looking good, why not go for all four Baldy peaks?

Turn on Rainbow Lake Road, it's not marked, so have your GPS on. Drive it for about 14 miles, until the road ends. It's a gravel road but it's not rough so any car should be able to make it just fine. Start at the Rainbow Lake trailhead in a really lovely old pine forest at over 11,000 feet. Enter the West Elk Wilderness boundary about half a mile in at a super mucky creek crossing.

The trail leaves the dense forest and at about a mile and a half, go right at the junction towards South Baldy mountain. Continue on this trail till you're about 1.75 miles in, you should see a cairn to your left, take this trail. The trail is very faint in some places, but you know where you're going!

Not long after, follow the path through some willows and out the other side. The trail becomes pretty hard to follow if it even exists after the willows, so it becomes a time to choose your path of least resistance. Hike up an inclined field till you reach some rock, a big summit wind shelter, and geological survey marker; the summit is 12,385 feet.

When descending South Baldy, you can scope the line that you want to take up to the summit. On the left side there are more willows and vegetation to navigate and on the right side there is more rock; choose your own adventure! But you'll likely have to navigate some willows anyway you choose to go, you can let the willows dictate your path as you keep climbing.

Once you get to the ridge, there's a trail to follow to the summit of Middle Baldy Mountain (12,592 feet). You can look back at all the hard work you've just accomplished as you see South Baldy back behind you.

If you choose to continue, the next peak is called Middle Baldy… I know, it's kind of confusing. Hike along the ridge and an open sloping field to get to Middle Baldy. There are some pretty cool rock formations on the left side hugging the edge that you can see as you make your way over. There's a summit cairn at 12,703' and some really beautiful views. At this point, you're looking at about 9 to 9.5 miles round-trip and close to 2,400 feet of gain.

And if you are still feeling good, continue on the route all the way to the end to send your fourth summit of the day, North Baldy (12,851 feet).

Hike along a sloping field and find a faint trail to make your way up until you hit the summit cairn. It's fun to look at the ridge behind you and see how far you've traveled and all you've accomplished! See the ridge that you traveled along and enjoy the views of the West Elks.

Your round-trip distance from here will be around 11.5 miles and 3,200 feet of gain.

When you're ready, reverse your route, but instead of going back up and over South Baldy, you can hop on the Beaver Creek trail once you descend Middle Baldy Mountain and it will skirt around South Baldy and take you back the way you've come.

Shared By:

Ashley Peterson

Trail Ratings

  4.5 from 2 votes

#3154

Overall
  4.5 from 2 votes
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Recommended Route Rankings

#447

in Colorado

#3,154

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Photos

Looking south on the whole ridge.
Sep 27, 2023 near Crested…, CO
Good north-facing view of the Ridgewalk.
Sep 27, 2023 near Gunnison, CO
Looking northwest at the Middle Baldys.
Sep 27, 2023 near Gunnison, CO
North Baldy Summit view looking south along the ridge.
Sep 27, 2023 near Crested…, CO
Heading to North Baldy Summit.
Sep 27, 2023 near Crested…, CO
Climbing north to middle Baldy Mountain.
Sep 27, 2023 near Gunnison, CO

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