OverviewThis is a very scenic route that makes a loop ascending both Byers and Bills Peaks. This variation of the loop approaches the peaks from the west side.
ApproachEast of Parshall (not far east of Kremmling) and on Highway 40 between mile post 197 and 198, turn south onto Country Road 3. Follow County Road 3 until you reach County Road 32 (FR-139), between mile markers 15 and 16 on County Road 3. Follow County Road 32 for 4.7 miles and turn right on FR-136 on the road marked for Lake Evelyn and Bottle Pass Trail. The small parking area at the trailhead is reached after another 3.9 miles. The last road is sometimes rather rough in places, but if you drive slowly, most vehicles can make it.
Route DescriptionFrom the trailhead take the trail on the left side of the parking lot and follow the trail (an old logging road) south up the Keyser Creek Valley. You will pass a trail junction, with a trail marked for Bottle Pass, but continue along the old logging road.
The trail reaches a marked junction after 1.8 miles. Take a left for the trail marked Byers Peak Trail. The trail is not shown accurately on the map, and it switchbacks up to the ridge and intersects the Old Byers Peak Trail. Turn right (south) along the Old Byers Peak Trail.
This trail isn't used nearly as much as the New Byers Peak Trail, and offers solitude. Parts of the trail are a bit faded, but fairly easy to follow, since the trail stays close to the ridgetop. The trail more or less follows the ridge and reaches the New Byers Peak Trail at timberline. The new trail is then followed to the summit. There is some easy class 2 scrambling on the last part of the ridge.
From the summit of Byers Peak, follow the ridge SE and down to a saddle at about 12,050 feet. There is some class 2 scrambling along the route, and there is no marked trail, though there is a faint path of use in places. From the saddle, follow the ridge west to Bills Peak. The ridge is rather rugged and has some class 2+ scrambling.
From Bills Peak, follow the ridge north along a faint trail that is marked with cairns. Follow the ridge to point 11,829 to where you can see Lake Evelyn in a cirque below. From here, follow the trail (faded in places) along the spur ridge to the NE. After a short distance, the trail makes a sharp right (keep your eyes open!) and descends off the ridge. The trail then descends to the Keyser Creek Cirque with Byers and Bills Peak towering above. The faded trail then follows the east bank of Keyser Creek (the topo map is in error) makes a few crossings, and reaches the marked junction/logging road described above.
Since the route down Keyser Creek requires routefinding and paying close attention, have the map in hand, while descending back to the trail.
The total distance for the loop hike is 12.3 miles with 4600 feet total altitude gain.