South Arapaho - 13,397
North Arapaho - 13,502
"Old Baldy" aka Point 13,038
Mileage: about 10
Elevation Gain: just under 4,000 feet
Feels Like Fall Up HereMy wife and I are both teachers and were excited about the awesome forecast after our first week back with the kiddos. Not wanting to have to spend hours in the car to go hiking, we chose the wonderfully close Indian Peaks. As my low-clearance Mazda wormed its way through the potholes up to the Fourth of July trailhead, we couldn't help but notice early signs of fall. Chilly, breezy, and some changing colors all marked the start of my favorite hiking season in Colorado. We were lucky to get a front-row parking spot with our late arrival and quickly started up the trail at 8am.
The views of the Indian Peaks appear immediately as the trail ascends toward the Fourth of July mine.
Having mostly hiked in the IPW by Brainard Lake, I'm not sure of all the mountain names but would like to hike some of these stunning peaks.
We passed a few other parties on our way past the mine, but we were happy to see the trail fairly unpopulated. We made short work of the trail up to the Arapaho Saddle where we had to stop and layer up against the chilly wind.
The views of both Arapahos and the Arapaho Glacier are complemented by many other peaks, including Longs Peak in the background.
The final slopes up to South Arapaho's summit were the only steep hiking we encountered. We tried to stay close to the edge to experience the views.
The summit of South Arapaho appeared quickly, and we only stopped briefly to chat with another hiker enjoying the summit.
TraverseAlthough the traverse is short and rated class 3, we had heard mixed reviews and rumors of it being dangerous class 4 at times. With the weather looking good, we put on our helmets and headed out. The first bit is very easy and goes quickly. We soon reached the first class 3 step and had no problem following the many orange painted arrows marking the route. Some of the arrows are very faded but they are easily seen if you keep an eye out.
We both felt the traverse went fast and nothing exceeded class 3. There were a few points where the route dropped below the ridge briefly, but we never had trouble with route finding. Here are photos from the rest of the way...
About 40 minutes (no speed records today!) after leaving South Arapaho, we strolled up onto North. The cairn up there was huge! We had only passed one party returning over the ridge, so we had the summit all to ourselves.
Eventually we had to head back over the ridge. I would say the crux of the route is simply remembering to allow enough time for the return trip. Luckily, we had beautiful weather and plenty of time to return safely. It takes about the same amount of time to traverse back to South Arapaho. The return was uneventful, and soon we were back on South Arapaho's summit and talking about the possibility of summiting Old Baldy from the Arapaho Saddle.