OverviewParika Peak is the head of the Baker Gulch Drainage in the southern Never Summer Wilderness and on the border of Rocky Mountain National Park.
It is also on the Continental Divide. One thing interesting about this and other nearby peaks is that the east slope of the mountain actually drains into the Pacific Ocean, while the west slope drains into the Atlantic Ocean!
The most popular side of the mountain is the east side, but it's a longer hike from there. This side of the mountain also holds the tiny gem of Parika Lake.
The peak is not that well known by Rocky Mountain National Park standards, but it is scenic and has good views.
Overall the mountain is not rugged, but the west face should offer some nice early season snow routes.
Getting ThereBaker Gulch Trailhead
Drive north out of Grand Lake on Highway 40. Enter into Rocky Mountain National Park, and there is either a $30 dollar single day entrance, or a $50 season long pass. Pay the fee and continue on the road for around eight miles till you come to a sign for the Bowen-Baker Trailhead. Turn into the Parking area, and instantly, you are greeted with a amazing view of Parika Peak.
Routes OverviewVia Baker Gulch
The routes up this peak from the Bowen-Baker Gulch Trailhead are pretty long, but the views are well worth it. The trails up this peak are great, and you follow the Baker Gulch Trail up to Parika Lake, and then to the peak. This peak is amazing, and there are great views of the rest of the Never Summer Wilderness, and Rocky Mountain National Park. It is 13 miles round trip and 3500 feet of elevation gain.
From the trailhead, follow the trail up along Baker Gulch, and the trail gets steeper after three miles. Hit the Grand Ditch at 3.5 miles, and continue on the trail for another half mile till you hit Baker Gulch. Cross the Creek and stay left on the Baker Gulch Trail until you reach Parika Lake at five miles. Follow the trail around the lake and follow it as it switchbacks up to the saddle between Parika Peak and Farview Mountain. From the saddle, turn north and follow the short steep ridge to the summit. Admire the views.
Via Jack Park
This is perhaps the easiest route up Parika Peak. From the trailhead, a little used trail heads south from Jack Park and curves around the south side of a mountain to a junction before heading up the ridge and to the saddle between Parika Peak and Farview Mountain. It is an easy hike up Parika Peak from there. This route is about 8 miles round trip with 1800 feet elevation gain.
The west face looks like it might offer some nice early season snow routes.
Via Illinois Creek
From Illinois Creek, another seldom used trail heads up the valley and joins the route above. The round trip distance is about 8 miles with 2400 feet elevation gain.
Red TapeThis area is in a mixture of protected lands including the Bowen Gulch Protected Area, the Never Summer Wilderness and Rocky Mountain National Park. Regulations for each can be viewed by clicking the links below:
Never Summers Wilderness
Rocky Mountain National Park
CampingFrom Baker Gulch, there is no camping allowed on the first half mile on the trail since it is in Rocky Mountain National Park. After that, you need a permit to camp anywhere along the trail. Please stay at least 100 feet from Lakes, rivers, or streams.
There are several campsites on the Jack Park side of the mountain as well.
When To ClimbJuly through September is the normal climbing season, but the mountain can be climbed year round.
Parika Peak has reasonable winter access from Baker Gulch. There is some avalanche terrain en-route to the peak.
Mountain ConditionsFor current road and trail conditions, contact:
Sulphur Ranger District
9 Ten Mile Drive
Granby, CO 80446
Rocky Mountain National Park
1000 US Hwy 36
Estes Park, CO 80517
Below is the climate summary for nearby Berthoud Pass at 11,315 feet elevation which is several miles to the south and about 1000 feet lower than Parika Peak. These are all averages, so expect more variation, but this will give you a good idea about the climate at higher elevations around Cascade Mountain. *National Weather Service Data 1950-1985.
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