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Baker Mountain

 
Baker Mountain

Page Type: Mountain/Rock

Location: Colorado, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 40.38170°N / 105.90636°W

Object Title: Baker Mountain

County: Grand

Activities: Hiking, Mountaineering, Scrambling

Season: Spring, Summer, Fall

Elevation: 12404 ft / 3781 m

 

Page By: wmolland

Created/Edited: Sep 5, 2012 / Sep 5, 2012

Object ID: 811940

Hits: 1361 

Page Score: 72.39%  - 3 Votes 

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Overview

Baker Mountain is located along the Continental Divide in the Never Summer Range of Rocky Mountain National Park. The peak is the southern most peak in the range and is the most easily accessed to due it proximity to the Baker Gulch Trail. The peak itself is located less than a mile south of Mt. Stratus and less than 2 miles from Bowen Mountain to the southwest. The trail towards Baker Mountain, the Baker Gulch Trail, is well used and follows a creek upwards into the stunning Never Summer Wilderness. The rock, like with most Never Summer peaks, is suspect at times so care should be taken when climbing the peak as rocks large and small tend to move under foot.

Because the peak is located within Rocky Mountain National Park, an entrance fee is required if you are wanting to climb the peak originating from inside the park. The fee is $20 per vehicle or $10 if walking in or on a motorcycle.

Getting There

Baker Mountain's main access point is the Baker Gulch Trail. The trailhead for this trail is the Bowen-Baker trailhead which is located about 6 miles into Rocky Mountain National Park when accessed from the Grand Lake.

If starting here you will hike a very short distance before the trail splits. One branch will head towards Bowen Gulch and one branch will head towards Baker Gulch, the trail of choice for climbing this peak. Although the trailhead is located within the park the trail goes into Forest Service land and the Never Summer Wilderness about a quarter mile after its start and never re-enters the National Park.

Follow the Baker Gulch Trail for 3.5 miles until it reaches the Grand Ditch Road at the base of Baker Mountain. Officially marked a "trail" in the park, this road grants vehicle access to the Fort Collins Water Supply company which maintains the ditch. Unfortunately there is not private vehicle access to this road.

Once you have reached the ditch you have many options, all very similar, for summiting Baker Mtn. Continue on the Baker Gulch trail for as short or as long as you wish before heading up the slopes to the peak. The first obvious spot to turn off towards the peak is about 100 yards past the Grand Ditch. Here you can follow steep grassy and rocky slopes upward for what seems like an eternity to the summit. If you continue farther down the trail you reach slopes which are not as steep heading towards the peak. Although the elevation gain is the same no matter where you start, the angle of incline lessens the farther down the trail you go.

Once you break off from the Baker Gulch trail it is a simple matter of putting one foot in front of the other for about 2000 vertical feet over mostly steep tundra to the summit. Depending on your ascent route you may encounter areas of steep loose rock and scree as well as some 2nd-3rd class scrambling.

It is also possible to summit this peak from the West starting from Michigan Lakes but this is a much longer route that would likely involve an overnight stay. One could also climb the peak up it's east ridge but this would require 4th-5th class scrambling on loose rock.

The most likely other option for climbing this peak would be to follow the Continental Divide from Mt. Stratus. This is a relatively short 3rd class scramble which could make a fun loop trip if you started from Red Mtn. trail and attained the ridge from somewhere farther to the north.

Directions:
The Bowen-Baker Trailhead is located along Trail Ridge Road (Rt 34) going through Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP). The trail head is on the west side of the Continental Divide but can be easily reached from Estes Park, CO during the summer months (May/June - October(sh)) when Trail Ridge Road is open.

From the East, take I -25 (Colorado) to the exit for highway 34. Continue west on 34 up the canyon and through Estes Park. Staying on 34, pass through the gate to Rocky Mountain National Park. You are now on Trail Ridge Road and it will take about 45 minutes - 1 hour to reach the Bowen-Baker Trailhead (a few miles beyond the Colorado River Trailhead).

From the West, take highway 40 (Colorado) to highway 34 north/east toward Grand Lake. Again, pass through the gates to Rocky Mountain National Park and drive approximately 6 or 7 miles to the Bowen-Baker Trailhead.

Red Tape

There is no real red tape for this peak. If you are dayhiking the peak you do not need a permit. There is the entrance fee into the park which can be avoided if you arrive at the trailhead very very early.

Camping

Most people do the peak as a dayhike. However, you can also stay at the Timber Creek campground which is only a few miles from the trailhead if you do not want to drive from far far away or you can camp anywhere along the Baker Gulch Trail in Forest Service land. Reservations for the campground can be made online at recreation.gov.

When to climb

Although the peak can be climbed at any time of the year, Trail Ridge Road is generally only open from Memorial Day until the first major snowstorm of the season. When the road is not plowed the Bowen-Baker Trailhead is only accessible from the West Side of the park via skis or snowshoes. This adds several miles to the journey and creates a lot of extra travel time if you are coming from the east side of the park, i.e. Estes Park. Because of this the main climbing season is June-September. Furthermore the name of the mountain range should be some indication to the amount of snow that generally lies on all aspects of the peak.

Images

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