OverviewThe East Ridge of North Star Mountain offers an excellent hike along the Continental Divide at over 13,000 ft. The route is mostly class 2 with an occasional class 3 section. With its many ups and downs, it is sure to provide a nice workout. It offers spectacular views of the areas 14'ers, as well as some less visited peaks such as Wheeler and Drift.
Because this is a ridge route with easy access, it is a good and relatively safe winter route. Most of the avalanche danger can be avoided by making a variation of the summer route.
The route is 7.8 miles round trip with 2650 feet elevation gain.
Getting ThereThe start to the East Ridge is very easy to find. It starts on the summit of Hoosier Pass on CO 9 between Summit and Park counties. Park in the large area to the west of the Hwy. There is an an old road leaving the parking area heading west. This road is the first part of the route.
Route DescriptionIn summer, or any season when avalanche danger is not a threat, the route follows the main road in a Northwesterly direction for the first 1.5 miles. At this point you come to a shallow saddle at about 12,160 feet.
In winter or early spring, when avalanche danger is a concern, instead of following the route above, stay directly on the ridgeline, which is fairly easy. Follow the ridge northwest over the top of Point 12,274 and to the minor saddle mention above (12,160 feet).
From the minor saddle, the old road then turns Southwest towards the locked and posted gate leading to the old Magnolia Mine. Do not go this way, but instead continue West and then Northwest up the gentle sloped ridge until you reach the shoulder at 12,570 feet. From here you can continue Northwest as the first false summit comes into view.
The ridge along this section is wide and gentle. The best option, depending on conditions is to skirt the first false summit and aim for the saddle between it and the second false summit. At this point near 13,300 ft the ridge narrows considerably. The best and easiest passage from here to the summit is directly on the ridge crest.
From this point, the 13,614 feet true summit is one mile due West. There are many ups and downs along the ridge which must be done a second time on return.
The hike is along a relatively solid rock ridge and offers seldom seen views of Fletcher and Quandary to the north and to the south, Lincoln and Democrat. Take some time to enjoy the views, but pay attention to the weather as there are few bailout options while on the ridge proper.
Essential GearIn summer, sturdy hiking shoes or boots for summer and other dry seasons.
During winter, this is a popular backcountry ski area and when conditions are ideal skis would be both useful and fun until the first false summit. Otherwise, snowshoes will work just fine.
Often in winter, much of the snow is blown clean off the ridge.