Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Winter Hiking: Chief Mountain

Hi friends,

If you happen to be in the Front Range, you might be wondering why I'm posting about hiking in these frigid temps. Or, if you're crazy like me, you're thinking hiking might be in your weekend plans. Even if it means freezing like a popsicle.

I want to share a very special hike I did about a week ago with my future in-laws on Chief Mountain in the Front Range. This is a special hike for me because it was with my new family and it was one of their first in Colorado. I always cherish the hikes when friends and family from the East Coast get to witness the splendor of Colorado for the first time. Especially when it's covered in snow.

Chief Mountain is a great hike any time of year, with sweeping 360 degree views of several 14ers, gradual elevation gain (Class 2), and close proximity to Denver, Boulder, and the surrounding burbs.

The trailhead is accessible from Squaw Pass Road (Located along Squaw Pass Road behind Echo Mountain ski lift. Visit Summit Post for directions).

The trail winds through lodgepole pine forest with constant, but gradual elevation gain. During the summer months, the trail is bogged down with tourist hikers, but on a cold winter day traffic slows to a few adventurous snowshoers and wary chipmunks.

I've done this hike in the summer and winter months - and I gotta give it up to winter. The snow transforms the dense forest into a winter wonderland. Lodgepole pines morph into ice giants, fallen logs become sparkling snow drifts, and pictures look like postcards. The craggy summit delivers views of all the snow covered Front Range 14ers and simply cannot be beat.

So, if you happen to be crazy (and have no plans this weekend), you might want to consider strapping on those snowshoes, breaking out those poles, and heading on a frosty hike.