Mount Evans Wilderness Overview
Kataka Mountain above a beaver lodge along Scott Gomer Creek.
The Mount Evans Wilderness is the closest wilderness to Colorado’s capitol city, Denver. It guards the glaciated highlands of the Mount Evans Batholith. It protects a 74,401 acre preserve that abounds in alpine flora and fauna. Although only 32 miles from the golden domed Capitol Building it is a world away. Mount Evans and its satellite summits form the spectacular mountain backdrop that is visible to millions along the Front Range. When approaching Colorado’s Rockies from the east, Mount Evans, along with Pikes Peak and Longs Peak, are the first high summits to loom over the horizon.
Designated wilderness in 1980 the Mount Evans Wilderness is remarkable in both how it is uniquely accessible, and yet even more uniquely, hides some very remote and lonely places. The Wilderness is penetrated by the 15 mile long Mount Evans Highway which climbs from the high Denver Mountain Park of Echo Lake. This roadway, built in 1927, is the highest paved roadway in North America. It is a windy two lane affair that offers a very intimate look at a diverse alpine ecology. Mount Evan's even had a restaruant near the top called the Summit House, until it burned down in 1979. Yet away from the roads lie 67 miles of trails crisscrossing glaciated valleys, lovely lake graced cirques, and alpine highlands. This diverse trail system offers a far more privileged wilderness experience.
The Mount Evans wilderness contains two fourteeners, the namesake Mount Evans, and the adjacent Mount Bierstadt. These two high summits see the vast majority of all visitors to the wilderness. Yet the wilderness contains 17 other named summits. These are: Rosedale Peak, Royal Mountain, Bandit Peak, Rosalie Peak, Tahana Mountain, Mount Logan, Spearhead Mountain, Arrowhead Mountain, Kataka Mountain, Geneva Mountain, Epaulet Mountain, Mount Spalding, Gray Wolf Mountain, Mount Warren, Rogers Peak, Goliath Peak, and Sugarloaf Peak. These summits offer many potential destinations.
- Mount Evans Geology: The Mount Evans region is dominated by the massive Mount Evans Batholith (A batholith is an igneous mass that has a determinate surface area exceeding 62 square miles, increases in mass in a downward trend, and has no determinate downward floor. It is essentially a mass of rock that extends up from the depths of the earth's crust). The Mount Evans Batholith represents a 1.44 billion year old magmatic intrusion into the surrounding 1.7 billion year old Precambrian Basement Rock. It occupies an immense area and consists of a distinctive coarse grained pink granite. The rolling tundra of the high summits is graced with many weathered boulders of this photogenic rock. This ancient granite lied buried and hidden until subsequent erosion stripped off the layers of sedimentation that had been deposited over the passing ages. The Laramide Uplift began the process of exposing the batholith. This rock was finaly exposed, carved, and sculpted by glaciers during the most recent glacial episodes in Colorado, occurring in two bursts 160 to 10 thousand years ago. The erosive power of glaciers left the previously rounded highlands riven with cirques, draped with morraines eroded off of them, and glacial lakes extending like strands of pearls along the valley floors (hence the name paternoster in reference to the resemblence to prayer beads). The effects of this past glaciation are readily apparent on visits today.
For more information on the geology of the Mount Evans area please see Jeremy McCreary's wonderfully informative website.
For more information on the Mount Evans Wilderness please see Mount Evans.com
Kataka Mountain Overview
Kataka is defined as "fort" in some native american languages. To Budhists the same word was the name of the Budha's horse. These are both appropriate appelations for this reclusive, medatative mountain. Kataka Mountain is a distinct, if rounded summit in the southern reaches of the Mount Evans Wilderness.
Kataka Mountain is three and three-quarter miles due south of the popular fourteener Mount Bierdstadt. Kataka heads the Deer Creek drainage and seperates it from the aspen dominated Scott Gomer Creek drainage. It sits on the gentle ridge that runs due north-west from Mount Logan. Kataka is a mountain with an unmistakable dome-like profile. Its upper slopes are broad and expnansive. On these rolling highlands a bit of paradise may be glimpsed.
Kataka is not a popular summit, it should generaly offer ample servings of solitude. Even so it is a worthwhile destination. Try this little mountain. You may be suprised by its aesthetic depths.
Maps and Directions
The Abyss Trail Loop Route on Kataka Mountain: 10.5 miles long, 2,949 ft. elevation gain, class 2.
This is a pleasant and easy route. Highly recomended any time of year but especialy well suited to early spring. Begin at the Abyss Lake Trailhead. This trailhead is located along the Guenella Pass road 5 and a half miles north of the town of Grant (which is located along Highway 285). It is a well marked trailhead with ample parking on the south end of the expansive Geneva Park.
Follow the excellent trail approximately 2.5 miles in. After crossing to the east side of Scott Gomer Creek keep an eye out for a vaguely defined ridge the comes off of Kataka Mountains eastern slopes. In a small meadow leave the comforts of the trail and begin bushwhacking uphill. This is easy bushwhacking terrain and the vague rib gives an obvious path. At timberline the slope angle eases up and the stroll across the massive summit is very scenic. The summit cairn is located near the south end of the summit region.
For the descent head north towards the Rosalie Trail. It is best to follow the ridge line as there is a possability of running into dreaded willows below timberline. Once on the Rosalie Trail follow it west to its reunnion with the Abyss Trail. Return to the trailhead.
This mountain is in the Mount Evans Wilderness. Wilderness regulations aply. The Mount Evans Highway is a fee area. For more information please contact:
Clear Creek Ranger District
101 Chicago Creek, Box 3307
Idaho Springs, CO 80452