This montrous formation is found nearly a half mile into the route.
Mount Garfield’s scoured south face creates a cornucopia of route possibilities that offer the more adventurous souls an opportunity to bypass the mountains more travelled main route. In addition to offering solitude, the “mars route” offers a spectacular array of visuals, formations encountered en route to the summit will likely leave a positive impression that will linger long after your experience. Do not be put off by the freeway that runs by the route’s start, the sounds of civilization will fade quickly from both your ears and mind as you work your way into the heart of Garfield’s opus.
Hoodoos line your upper flanks almost from the get-go of the route.
Refer to the main page ‘getting there’ section; the route is accessed at the Mount Garfield main route trailhead. Park your vehicle in the spacious parking lot and head west on a primitive dirt road that parallels I-70 (do not follow Mt. Garfield's main route). A break in the parking lot’s fence allows for easy access. Travel the dirt road for approximately half a mile, keep your eye open for a fence that runs perpendicular into the dirt road. The actual start to the trail begins by taking a right immediately after the fence.
Upon encountering the cave, head left up this small wash.
Depart the dirt road by heading north into the obvious major wash. Navigation is simple for the next half mile, be sure to stay in the main wash as it works its way further into the mountain (as a note, this path is rarely visited, keep an eye out for black widows that tend to span their web across the path’s wash). You’ll soon be in a wash that is about three feet wide by three feet deep. Numerous obstacles along the path will present you with some fun scrambling (class 2+). Soaring walls of clay/sand/rocks dominate this section, these materials form an array of hodoos and other seemingly extra-terrestrial formations. Moving on you’ll run square into an obvious cave that makes for difficult progress. Do not circumvent the cave, instead head up a sub-wash along the main wash’s western slope.
Follow this steep sub-wash, the scrambling becomes a bit more intense here. After approximately 200 feet of elevation gain, a fork in the sub-wash leads to the left and right, stay right heading further up the steepening slope. The going is tough from the fork, it is approximately 400 hundred feet of very steep climbing on hard-packed clay and rock (class 3). The 400 foot push leads into another smaller fork, stay left and within a 100 feet you’ll find relief and a spectacular view of the remaining route. Once on the major relief, head north toward the mountain’s natural “V”, your aim should attempt to hit the vertex as closely as possible. There are numerous ways to obtain the “V”, the going is technically easy but physically grueling. After approximately 400 feet you’ll meet up with the main route’s trail. From this point follow the well trod path in a westerly direction to the mountain’s summit. The main route makes for a nice return trip.
The route is approximately four miles round trip with an elevation gain of 2,000 feet.
Bring water, this area can be very hot and there are no natural water sources. In addition, wear a good pair of shoes or boots that have good traction.
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