Roundtrip Distance: 2.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 580 feet
There are several options for ascending Papoose Mountain, the little peak sitting between Squaw Mountain and Chief Mountain. This short but sweet stroll is a good winter route option with several advantages:
• It leverages part of the service road to Squaw Mountain for easy footing and navigation
• It traverses across the northern slopes of Papoose Mountain on an old service road, treating the hiker to views of the nifty rock outcrops on this side of this demure Elevener.
• It takes advantage of the Chief Mountain trail to the saddle between Chief Mountain and Papoose Mountain.
• It ascends the western slope of Papoose Mountain for the bushwhack segment, meaning less wind-loading in heavy snow season.
• Follow I-70 west to Exit #252, which is CO 74 (Evergreen Parkway)
• Take Evergreen Parkway for roughly 3 miles to Hwy 103 (Squaw Pass Road).
• Turn right on Squaw Pass Road
• Follow Squaw Pass Road westbound for about 12 miles. Note signs for Echo Mountain ski area (the old Squaw Pass Ski Area).
• Squaw Pass Road will be about ¼ mile past the ski area entrance, on your left / south
Depending on snow depths and how much exercise you need, you can park here in the dirt near Hwy 103 or continue up the dirt road to the trail and road junction.
• From Hwy 103, walk or drive as the dirt Squaw Pass Road switches back to the east
• Continue less than 1/5 mile from Hwy 103 to a “crooked x” junction of roads and a trail.
• Take the trail heading almost due-west from this “crooked x” as it ascends the hill.
• Traverse across the lower slopes of Papoose Mountain heading westward for roughly 1/5 mile.
• The Chief Mountain trail will appear to your left heading south-southwest uphill toward the saddle.
• Continue ascending the Chief Mountain trail for roughly ¼ mile to the saddle with Papoose.
• At the saddle, depart the trail and ascend the moderately-wooded slopes of Papoose Mountain.
Note: This little mountain has several highpoint candidates. I recommend ascending all of them to hedge your bets.
If visiting in the winter, in addition to standard cold-weather outer wear and winter survival equipment, I recommend either snowshoes (deep snow) or traction devices (packed snow), determined by the conditions.