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Trip Report A Day trip to Mt. Evans

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We have lived in Colorado for 14 years and had never explored the Mt. Evans Wilderness Area. Yesterday was the day to finally do it. We ( my husband and I) left our house at 8 am and were turning off of I 70 in Idaho Springs by 9:30. You take Exit 240 off of the highway to the Mt. Evans road. It was 13 miles to the fee station and we passed numerous bikers along the way. The fee is $10 for a car and less for bikers, hikers, motorcycles. We headed straight for the summit as we wanted to climb to the top and be off before the clouds rolled in.

The drive from the entrance station to the summit is 14 miles. The first few miles are easy and afford lovely views. After the Mt. Goliath parking area, the last 6 miles or so is not for the faint hearted. The road is curvy with dramatic drop offs . The views are fantastic as you are quickly above tree line and can see for miles and miles. We had a lot of bikers to watch out for - amazingly in shape people! At mile 14, we made the last twisty turn and found ourselves in the summit parking lot. The wind was howling and the temperature was 42 degrees. There are bathrooms at the parking lot.

We climbed the trail ( a quarter mile) from the parking lot to the top. WOW. 360 degree views from the top of the world. There were a handful of people at the top having snacks, taking pictures and holding on for dear life with the wind. We did the same, but as you had to literally hold onto your hats and our fingers were stiff with cold, we made our way back down to the parking lot. The trail is easy to follow and not strenuous, other than you are hiking at 14, 233 feet. At the parking lot, we were approached by two college students who asked for a ride back to the summit lake parking area- 4 miles or so down the mountain. One had a sore knee and wasn't sure he could hike down in the wind. We took them along and having them to talk to kept our minds off of the drive down that steep first 4 miles. The summit lake parking area is a large lot and you can hike 2 hours or so from there up to the summit where we had just come from.

We drove to the Mt. Goliath parking area which was 8 miles or so down from the summit. It was 55 degrees there. We hiked the 3 mile roundtrip Pesman trail. The cool thing there is the bristlecone pines which are 1500 years old. The trail is known for its wildflowers but we were a little late in the season, and I think it has been so dry this year that our wildflowers haven't been as good. Regardless, the views from this trail were amazing too as you climb above tree line and see all the way down into downtown Denver and onto the plains. We did not see any big wildlife on this trip at all. I was hoping to see Mountain Goats or Big Horn Sheep, but no luck. Did see a woodpecker, mountain bluebird and marmots. And a lot of really cold bikers.

We drove down another 6 miles or so to Echo Lake. This is a lovely lake to walk around on a well marked trail. Lots of families and dogs and kids out enjoying the lake. The sun felt wonderful and thawed out our chilly fingers. There is a restaurant, bathrooms, and large parking area at Echo Lake.

It is 13 miles back down the road from Echo Lake to Idaho Springs. There is a really fascinating pioneer cemetery right before the highway that we climbed up and down in and imagined what the area was like when all those folks were alive and well. The 1880s isn't that long ago but for a young state like Colorado, it was a vastly different place then.

Anyway, I would recommend spending the day on Mt. Evans if you are in the area. Just be prepared for major temperature changes. In Denver it was 90 degrees, at the summit it was 42. Be off the summit before the afternoon lightning and storms. Make sure your brakes are in good working order and enjoy some breathtaking scenery!

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