Lone Eagle Peak has forever been imprinted in my mind as one of the most awe inspiring Peaks in Colorado. It stands proudly at 11,900’. Lone Eagle’s pointy summit is commanding and intimidating to the average hiker. To the enthusiastic adventure climber, it’s a veritable playground encapsulated in stone and surrounded by pristine, rugged beauty.
8 miles out into the Indian Peaks Wilderness, solitude and peace and quiet awaits. The approach out to the peak via the Monarch Lake trailhead, located just outside of Granby, CO, in itself can prove to be a splendid outing. Upon hiking out to the Peak one may encountered a mother moose and her young, deer, fox, snakes, sweet smelling wildflowers, beautiful swift flowing waterfalls, rushing streams, towering pines and beckoning rock faces. It is not uncommon to have a moose or two greet you at the trailhead parking lot. But be respectful. We are in their home.
Lone Eagle can be climbed semi technically (Class 4) or technically. The airy Class 4 route up Lone Eagle’s South side has deservingly earned it’s namesake, Solo Flight. Care should be used when crossing the saw tooth-like ridge to Lone Eagle’s summit. The faint at heart may choose to rope up on this section. Protection is available but take heed and test the rock for durability before protecting it. There is a lot of loose rock on the peak.
If you are more up for a moderate alpine adventure as opposed to an exposed hike, The North Face shines through like a desert oasis. The route is approximately 11 pitches long and tops out in difficulty at 5.7. The majority of the climbing is low 5th class with sections no harder than 4th class. The climbing is varied and highly enjoyable. Along the route you’ll experience jug halls, chimneys, bomber cracks and yes as much as I hate to say it, choss. But it is alpine so that’s to be expected. The exposure on the summit is almost dizzying. Come on; don’t be afraid to look down. You have climbed this amazing peak under your own power and free will.. One of the best ways to appreciate exactly what you’ve accomplished by summiting Lone Eagle is to feel the air below you feet. As a hiker and climber, I was able to get the best of both worlds on Lone Eagle by climbing the North Face and descending the South Face. Other options are available to descend if you get off track. Several older and newer rappel stations will get you back down safely.
As many visitors to Lone Eagle have discovered, one trip out to the peak may not suffice. Fortunately, another airy, spectacular route awaits; The Mohling Traverse. The traverse is often done by ascending Lone Eagle via Solo Flight. The Mohling Traverse travels from the summit of Lone Eagle to the rugged summit of Iroquois Peak (12,799’). The traverse can be done a couple of different ways, linking other peaks such as Hopi, Apache, Navajo and Niwot Ridge.
Lone Eagle Peak rests in a true alpine setting. Conditions may change with little to no notice. Proper planning and preparedness is key when taking on any of the previously discussed routes. The environment can be merciless but when encountered properly, it can also be one of the most rewarding experiences of a lifetime.
From Denver go west on I-70 to the Winter Park turn-off. Drive north over Berthoud Pass via US 40 thru Winter Park, thru Frasier, thru Tabernash thru Take the HWY 34 turnoff to Grand Lake to the right. Go 5 miles north on 34 to the Grand Lake Recreation Area. Head right on FDR 125 (Arapaho Bay Road) and proceed 9.4 miles on an improved dirt road to Big Rock Campground at the south end of Arapaho Bay. From the campground follow the road another .07 miles to the Monarch Lake Trailhead.
The Peak can also be accessed via the Brainard Lake Trailhead.
Permits are required. There is a pay station located approximately down the Arapahoe Bay road. A $5.00 fee is required per day.
When To Climb
Lone eagle is best climbed late Spring thru early Fall.
Campsites are available at Mirror Lake. A campsite permit may be purchased at the ranger station located at the Monarch Lake Trailhead.
Beware of the weather. As you're in Indian Peaks, storms roll in early and with little warning.