This route leverages the Topaz Mountain Road from Rt. 39 (Lost Park Road) to just below and to the northeast of Topaz Mountain.
What you make of this route depends on several factors:
1. The season and snow depth
a. Deep snow and / or wet conditions can make this old logging road impassible.
b. High springtime stream crossings can mean ditching the 4x4 and walking the rest of the route on-foot
2. The ability of vehicle and driver
a. Having only travelled Topaz Mountain Road with several inches of snow covering the details, I cannot testify to the underlying conditions of the road. However, even with several inches of snow, I was able to climb out of the Monkey Creek drainage to nearly 11,000 feet above sea level in a mostly-stock Rubicon.
b. It goes without saying, however, that 4x4 with good tires and plenty of clearance, plus plenty of low-end will get further than a road car.
3. Personal tastes
a. Does your short attention span render you crazy after just a mile of hiking on an old logging road?
b. Or do you feel like you’re cheating spending too much time in the 4x4 and insist on doing more hiking and less jeeping?
The good news is, there is no “all or nothing” with this route (assuming the road is passable). There are pull-outs periodically along the road for parking, and there are plenty of ways to cater this trip to your preferences.
• Roundtrip Distance: Highly variable -- 1 – 11 miles depending on starting point
• Elevation gain: Highly variable -- 510 – 1,600 feet (not counting rolling loss and gain) depending on starting point
• From Hwy 285 south of Kenosah Pass, take Rt 56 Lost Park Road eastbound. (The road heads due east through private lands to the Forest Service Boundary.)
• You will be on this road for approximately 14 miles.
• Follow this road until it crests at approximately 10,760 feet northeast of North Tarryall Peak.
• Continue briefly down the other side of the crest to Topaz Mountain Road, FS 446. Turn right.
• From this point, let the road conditions, your vehicle and your personal preferences determine whether you park and walk or continue driving.
• Winter Closure Note: The Forest Service closes this road at about 10,000 feet elevation just before the switchbacks and a good two miles from the turnoff for Topaz Mountain Road. If attempting this route during snow season in the mountains, it’s a good idea to check with the South Park Ranger District prior to heading out.
The northern slopes of Topaz Mountain are swept to and fro by a collection of old logging roads. Stay alert and keep to FS 446 / Topaz Mountain Road.
• The route following the old road is a rolling one, climbing and descending numerous times. The road has two stream crossings: First Beaver Creek, then Monkey Creek.
• After crossing Monkey Creek, Topaz Mountain Road climbs more steadily, first rounding a northeastern shoulder jutting off of Topaz Mountain, then traversing the northeastern slopes of the peak.
• Finally, the road takes a sweeping turn, trending first east, then south, then southwest, before topping out a broad saddle with a rustic campsite.
• Leave the road here and ascend toward the summit, trending southwest, for roughly ½ mile.
• A brief rock-and-boulder hop carries you to the highpoint!