Mount Achonee Overview
Mount Achonee (12,649-ft) resides within the IPW and together with Hopi Mountain and Iroquois Peak, forms “the other side” of the cirque. The other side is actually the west rim, a long northern continuation of the great Apache Peak’s west ridge. Mount Achonee towers over Crater Lake and Lone Eagle Peak thus providing a different, and very unique vantage of the cirque.
Mount Achonee draws its mountaineering interest from its north and east faces, along with Achonee Tower (12,060-ft), which flaunts an 800-ft high east face. These features are what Mount Achonee is known for but the approach to Crater Lake is long and requires a multi-day excursion.
The only reasonable way to day hike Mount Achonee is via its west slopes from the Arapaho Pass Trail (12.5 mile RT and 4,350-ft.) Be ready for this hike, it is 6 miles to the summit and 4,350-ft. Here is the catch, the first 4 miles only get you 500 vertical, which leaves you 3,850-ft for the last two miles. Of that 3,850-ft, 2,800 of it might be the steepest and most tedious bushwack of your life, for there is no trail once you leave the comforts of the well-trodden Arapaho Pass Trail.
Let me reiterate that the west rim of Lone Eagle Cirque is rarely visited; I’m guessing 5 to 10 visits a year, if that. Mount Achonee and its neighbors are reserved for those whom know of it and those who badly want to view the cirque from the west.
Indian Peaks Overview
The Colorado Indian Peaks Wilderness is home to many of the best hiking and climbing routes in the state. All 73,391 acres of The Indian Peak Wilderness rests just south of Rocky Mountain National Park; it's basically an extension of its neighboring national park. As Gerry Roach notes in his popular book "It's smaller than Rocky Mountain National Park but no less spectacular." This impressive collection of jagged peaks is home to 35 named peaks and 23 of are over 12,000 ft., and seven are over 13,000 ft. From easy walk-ups to technical 5.5 climbing this mountaineering playground has something for everybody. Most trailheads are only 2 hours from Denver Co., thus the area is a popular destination for the day hikers. Conversely, all those day hikers are left behind with a couple miles of hiking; so experiencing solitude can be had for those willing to work for it.
Lone Eagle Cirque Overview
It is my privilege to introduce some of you to the Indian Peak’s most magnificent cirque, the Lone Eagle Cirque. The Lone Eagle Cirque mainly consists of three sections, the east rim, Apache Peak, and the west rim. At 13,441-ft Apache Peak is the true high point on the surrounding rim of the Lone Eagle Cirque. Apache Peak is also the only true “bookend” peak of this cirque; it is the centerpiece between the popular east rim and the secluded and solitary west rim. This remarkable cirque harbors a number of excellent mountains. The east rim consists of Mount Toll, Pawnee Peak, Shashoni Peak and Paiute Peak. All of these peaks can be reached from trailheads that start from the east, most notably the popular and beautiful Brainard Lake area. The west rim is made up of lonely, unvisited points like Iroquois Peak, Hopi Mountain, Mount Achonee, and the great Lone Eagle Peak. Lone Eagle Peak is the obvious trophy peak within this cirque but the rest of these wonderful points should never go unnoticed.
Monarch Lake TH
From Denver go west on I-70 to the Winter Park turn-off. Drive north over Berthoud Pass and arrive In Winter Park. It’s only an hour from Denver to Winter Park. From Winter Park continue on Hwy.40 a few miles past the town of Frasier. Continue on Hwy 40 past Tabernash (4-miles) and arrive at Granby (16-miles). After driving through Granby look sharp for Hwy 34 turnoff to Grand Lake on the right. Go 5 miles north on 34 to the well-signed Grand Lake Recreation Area. Turn right on FDR 125 (Arapaho Bay Road) and go 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 TH.
Since this is a recreation area you will need to pay a $5.00 day-fee at a pay station about 1 mile in on the Arapaho Bay road. It takes credit cards.
A side note:
Monarch Lake, located just south of Lake Granby's Arapaho Bay, was built in the early 1900's to store logs awaiting transport to the sawmill. The Forest Service acquired Monarch Lake and the land surrounding it for recreation in 1962. The 150-acre reservoir is kept at a constant level to support a high quality non-motorized experience. Explore old logging techniques by visiting the "steam donkey"; the steam-operated engine that was used to move logs off the hillsides
Click image to enlarge
Here is a summery of the Indian Peak Wilderness Rules and Regulations.
Excellent camping opportunities are available at the Arapaho Bay area on Grand Lake. There are 3 different campgrounds around the tiny Arapaho Bay. I would highly recommend reserving a spot, especially on the weekends. Car camping in the area is not easy; there just are not many turnoffs. I ended up car camping at the Roaring Fork TH, which is only about a half mile from the Monarch Lake TH. Yes, I ignored the “no overnight stay” sign posted at the TH. Here are the specifics for camping at Arapaho Bay.
Season: Open Memorial Day to Labor Day with full services. After Labor Day, camping is available on a first come, first serve basis (no reservations) with reduce services while weather permits.
Reservations Accepted: Yes, 1-877-444-6777 National Recreation Reservation Service.
Sites: 84 (Total includes all three campgrounds in bay area: Big Rock, Moraine, Roaring Fork.)
Daily Fee: $12.00
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