Wanting to climb a new mountain and not do the same-old go-to mountains like Sanitas, Green Mtn., Bear Peak, or South Boulder Peak (currently closed to hiking) I decided we should finally go check out Eldorado Mountain. I had read about it years ago and it sounded more sporting than our regular hikes so it definitely piqued my interest enough to stay on the backburner in my mind.
The trail begins in Eldorado State Park and ascends via the Rattlesnake Gulch Trail but we didn’t want to pay the $8 fee so we started from the town of Eldorado Springs and went in the “back way.” The “back way” involves a short trail that connects to the Fowler Trail which takes you up behind the mighty Bastille formation. The views of the Redgarden Wall from this vantage are always stellar and without the Redgarden Wall “Eldo” might have remained just a mediocre climbing destination instead of the mecca it is today.
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It took us about 30 minutes to hike up and around the Bastille to the beginning of Rattlesnake Gulch, fortunately for us the namesake residents are hibernating for the poor-excuse-for-winter we are having this year. We followed these directions on Summitpost.org and they served us very well.
Shortly after leaving the official trail and getting on a climbers trail we were caught by 2 ultra-runners who were finishing up that last peak for a successful Sanitarado Traverse (20 miles and 8500 feet of climbing). One of the guys had climbed Eldorado Mountain a couple of times and they didn’t mind us following them through the scrambling difficulties higher up on the ridge.
We all chatted about climbing, running, East Coast peaks vs. The Rockies, etc. and fortunately for Carolyn and I these guys were a bit tired from their long day and we were able to keep up with them. The ridge got more interesting the higher we went and had some fun scrambly sections, nothing too difficult though.
After 1:56 from the bottom of Rattlesnake Gulch we popped out on the summit with the stellar views of the Indian Peaks stretching across the horizon all the way to Rocky Mountain National Park; it truly is a blessing to live here.
We exchanged summit photos and loaded one guy up with some of our food to repay them for leading the way for us. After about 20 minutes it was time to head down and the descent went fairly quickly. Once back to the trail the runners took off while Carolyn and I opted for a more leisurely pace, even getting a few silky water photos once back to Eldorado State Park. We made it back to the car just before dark for a 4:36 roundtrip, not bad for 8 miles and 3,100 vertical feet. All in all a very enjoyable “winter” day.