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A gorgeous out-and-back route starting high on the Continental Divide at Monarch Pass.


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Map Key

10.8

Miles

17.4

KM

Out and Back

11,995' 3,656 m

High

11,310' 3,447 m

Low

883' 269 m

Up

883' 269 m

Down

3%

Avg Grade (2°)

16%

Max Grade (9°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Views

Usually snow covered until the 4th of July. Even then, you may have to cross several tall snow drifts on the top of the Divide, which can be sketchy. Begin your hike early to avoid being caught in afternoon thunderstorms. Also, be aware that the Crest is both mountain bike and moto legal—expect to encounter plenty of mountain bikers

Overview

Accessing high alpine terrain by foot is almost difficult... unless you begin your hike at 11,312 feet, that is! This out-and-back hike from Monarch Pass provides easy access to the high alpine via a moderately-graded trail that climbs above treeline via a mix of singletrack and a short 4x4 road section. Once at/above treeline, you can opt to hike for as long as you'd like, before turning around and heading back. The views from this undulating crest trail are what Colorado dreams are made of!

Description

Begin the hike from the Monarch Crest trailhead, home to a small restaurant, tourist shop, restrooms, and a scenic gondola ride. The hike begins on the dirt road next to the restaurant/restrooms by winding under the gondola and heading south along the Continental Divide.

The bulk of the climb up to treeline comes early on via a combination of singletrack and 4x4 roads. The initial dirt road runs uphill for some distance, but you can cut off the road onto a singletrack sidehill trail early on, which then rejoins the 4x4 road. Next comes a fairly long 4x4 road climb that isn't very attractive, but don't worry—you'll soon be back onto singletrack. Be sure to look for the singletrack turn-off on the right because once you're back on the Continental Divide Trail, the rest of the hike is singletrack.

You'll break out into the alpine near Mount Peck and then wind along near treeline to the Fooses Creek junction. The route mapped here climbs to unnamed Point 12,177 above Fooses Creek, providing panoramic views of the region. You can choose to hike the high point if you wish before turning around, or simply turn around at Fooses Creek.

For a bit more adventure, from the high point you can opt for some ridge hiking to the northeast to summit Pahlone Peak at 12,670 feet. Pahlone Peak is an off-trail adventure requiring navigation skills in high alpine terrain.

Contacts

Shared By:

Greg Heil

Trail Ratings

  5.0 from 1 vote

#1

in Monarch Pass

#2193

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  5.0 from 1 vote
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Recommended Route Rankings

#1

in Monarch Pass

#341

in Colorado

#2,193

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Photos

Near Peel Point on the Monarch Crest.
Apr 17, 2024 near Whitepine, CO
View from the Crest.
Apr 17, 2024 near Whitepine, CO
Cornice on the side of the Continental Divide.
Apr 17, 2024 near Whitepine, CO
Below Peel Point on the Monarch Crest.
Apr 17, 2024 near Whitepine, CO

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