Best Summit Hikes Denver to Vail: Hikes and Scrambles Along the I-70 Corridor

Best Summit Hikes Denver to Vail: Hikes and Scrambles Along the I-70 Corridor

by James Dziezynski


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From little-known beauties like Coon Hill and Silver Plume Mountain to classic climbs like Peak 1 and Torreys Peak, Best Summit Hikes Denver to Vail provides detailed, accurate information on more than 60 summits that are within a 1.5-hour drive from the Denver/Boulder metro area. Local author James Dziezynski guides readers to rarely documented peaks and along wonderful adventures that are easy to access yet provide a true wilderness setting in a matter of minutes. This is a great resource for those who don't have the time to drive far away for other popular mountains and may want to learn more about the fantastic peaks that are closer than they think.

Other Colorado guidebooks focus on specific ranges or peaks grouped by elevation, but Best Summit Hikes Denver to Vail focuses on the most heavily traveled part of Colorado and is as useful for tourists as it is for locals. The wealth of great adventures close to home is a bit of a secret, even for veteran outdoors explorers.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780899978116
Publisher: Wilderness Press
Publication date: 07/05/2016
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 1,208,628
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

James Dziezynski is the author of the best-selling Best Summit Hikes in Colorado. An experienced mountaineer and cyclist, he most enjoys trying to keep up with his two dogs in the Rocky Mountains.

Read an Excerpt

South Slopes of Mount Bancroft (13,250') to Parry Peak (13,391')

  • Round-Trip Distance: 5.3 miles
  • Class: 2
  • Difficulty: 4/10
  • Hiking Time: 5–6 hours
  • Total Elevation Gain: 2,760'
  • Terrain: Hike a brief four-wheel-drive road to open, rolling terrain with excellent footing and modest grades. There are no official trails after the four-wheel-drive road ends, but navigation is straightforward.
  • Best Time to Climb: June–September

Overview For those who love pure hiking, it’s tough to beat this route for sheer scenery, welcoming terrain, and the chance to grab two lesser-visited thirteeners. It’s also an excellent dog adventure. It’s not a huge stretch to tack on Mount Eva (0.8 mile from Parry Peak) as an out-and-back. Hikers are somewhat rare here—most of the visitors to this area are four-wheel-drive enthusiasts who come to enjoy the fishing and knock back a few cold ones.


0.0 From the parking area, head south (away from Loch Lomond) and hike along the steep four-wheel-drive road. This initial push is a good warm-up and won’t last long.

0.3 The four-wheel-drive road will switchback west and head up toward Bancroft’s broad south slopes. Stay on it for now.

0.6 It’s possible to gain the ridge here if you stick to the four-wheel-drive road up to a saddle, though the rocky part of the lower ridge is somewhat annoying to walk. Leave the four-wheel-drive road before ascending to the saddle, opting for the better route in the basin. There are faint trails in the basin, along with a trail north to Lake Caroline (a side trip of about 0.2 mile each way from the basin). Navigation will be easy despite no formal trail, as the south slopes will be on your left.

1.2 After walking northwest in the open basin, you’ll approach the easiest slope to gain the south ridge at around 12,120 feet. It’s about 400 vertical feet to get on the “ridge” (more of a rounded slope) that leads to Bancroft’s summit.

1.4 Gain the ridge and carry on northwest to the top.

1.9 The summit! Depending on how much wandering you did in the basin, you will top out on Bancroft between 1.8 and 2.0 miles. Turn around now for a quick half-day outing (sometimes that’s all we have time for). To continue to Parry, it’s 0.8 mile along an easy ridge connecting the two.

2.7 After dipping down to 12,980 feet in the Bancroft–Parry saddle, a spirited push brings you to Parry’s summit. All told at this point, 2,400 feet of elevation gain has occurred. You’ll tack on another 300 on the return up and over Bancroft. Or continue to Eva, 0.8 mile from Parry. Going to Eva as an out-and-back is 7.1 miles with a burly 3,500+ feet of total elevation gain.

5.3 Return the way you came, over Bancroft. It can save a little time if you stay on the south slope ridgeline on the descent, connecting with the four-wheel-drive road in the low saddle at 11,900 feet. Finish mileage may vary depending on the off-trail path you choose, but expect between 5.3 and 5.5 miles round-trip.

Table of Contents

Trailhead Locator Map

List of Trailheads



    Loch Lomond Trailhead

  1. South Slopes of Mount Bancroft to Parry Peak
  2. James Peak–Mount Bancroft Loop
  3. Fall River Reservoir Trailhead

  4. Northeast Ridge Slopes of Mount Eva to Witter Peak
  5. Parrys Rib to Parry Peak–Mount Bancroft–Mount Eva Loop
  6. The Witter Slam: Witter, Eva, Parry, Bancroft, and James Peak Point-to-Point Ending at Loch Lomond
  7. Fall River Reservoir–Berthoud Pass Point-to-Point
  8. West Chicago Creek Trailhead

  9. Alpine Peak to Sugarloaf Peak Loop
  10. Empire–Republican Mountain Trailhead and Bard Creek Trailhead

  11. Republican Mountain and Sherman Mountain
  12. Bard Peak via Bard Creek Trail
  13. Engelmann Peak Southeast Ridge via Bard Creek Trailhead
  14. Republican Mountain to Herman Gulch Traverse
  15. Silver Plume–7:30 Mine Trailhead

  16. Silver Plume Mountain via the 7:30 Mine Trail
  17. Waldorf Mine Trailhead

  18. Mount Edwards to McClellan Mountain Loop
  19. Argentine Peak to Mount Wilcox Loop
  20. Edwards–Grays–Torreys Point-to-Point from Loveland Pass
  21. Argentine Pass to Guenella Pass
  22. McClellan–Wilcox Grand Slam
  23. Stevens Gulch Trailhead

  24. Grays Peak and Torreys Peak
  25. Kelso Ridge
  26. Kelso Mountain via “Torreys Ridge”
  27. Grays–Edwards–McClellan Mountain
  28. The Stevens Slam: Kelso to Edwards
  29. Baker Mountain via Grizzly Gulch
  30. Herman Gulch Trailhead

  31. Mount Parnassus and Bard Peak
  32. Pettingell Peak–East Ridge
  33. Woods Mountain–UN 12,805 Double Gulch Tour
  34. UN 12,671, UN 12,438, and Mount Bethel
  35. Dry Gulch Trailhead

  36. Mount Bethel and Plane Wreck Detour
  37. Tour of the Unnamed Peaks
  38. Mount Trelease–“Golden Bear Peak” Traverse
  39. The Citadel–Hagar Mountain Traverse
  40. Loveland Pass Trailhead

  41. Mount Sniktau to Grizzly Peak
  42. Continental Divide Point-to-Point Tour–Highest Point
  43. Loveland Pass–Stevens Gulch Point-to-Point
  44. “Cupid” Peak to Baker Mountain Point-to-Point
  45. Lenawee Peak (from Arapahoe Basin)
  46. Loveland Tunnel West Trailhead

  47. Coon Hill Direct
  48. Variation: East Ridge
  49. “Golden Bear Peak”
  50. Hagar Mountain via “Golden Bear Peak”
  51. Ptarmigan Peak Trailhead and Laskey Gulch Trailhead

  52. Ptarmigan Peak Loop
  53. Ptarmigan Peak via Laskey Gulch
  54. Tenderfoot Mountain Trailhead

  55. Tenderfoot Mountain
  56. Meadow Creek Trailhead and Ryan Gulch Trailhead

  57. Buffalo Mountain via Ryan Gulch
  58. Red Peak via Meadow Creek
  59. Deming Mountain and Eccles Peak via Meadow Creek
  60. Meadow Creek to Ryan Gulch Buffalo-Style Traverse
  61. Chief Mountain
  62. Extra Credit: North Tenmile Creek Trailhead
  63. Peak 1 Trailhead and Miners Creek Trailhead

  64. Peak 1 to Peak 6 Point-to-Point
  65. Miners Creek Peak 4, Peak 5, and Peak 6 Direct
  66. Far East Trailhead

  67. Peak 6 and Peak 6.5 Tour
  68. Mayflower Gulch Trailhead

  69. Atlantic–Pacific–Crystal Traverse
  70. Pacific Peak–West Ridge
  71. Drift Peak
  72. Crystal Peak Direct
  73. Copper Mountain/Spaulding Gulch Trailhead

  74. Jacque Peak via Spaulding Gulch
  75. Vail Pass Trailhead and Gore Range Copper Trailhead

  76. Uneva Peak Direct
  77. Shrine Mountain and Wingle Ridge
  78. Deluge Lake Trailhead

  79. Deluge Lake Summits Tour
  80. Gore Lake to Snow Peak
  81. Pitkin Creek Trailhead

  82. Mount Solitude and Climbers Point Tour
  83. Vista Peak Options


Appendix 1: Peaks by Elevation

Appendix 2: Contact Information

Appendix 3: Additional Resources

Appendix 4: Online Resources


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