Alexander Mountain is the first large named mountain one drives past en route to Estes Park on Hwy 34. Smaller and less popular than the other nearby mountains, Alexander Mountain is easily recognizable by its pyramidal shaped south face. The south face has been carved away at by the Big Thompson river, leaving the Narrows. The only legal route to climb this mountain is from the Narrows, as all other forested faces and ridges lie on private property. Alexander Mountain is the 224th tallest mountain in Larimer county. Views from the top include closeups of Round, Stone, Palisades, Storm, Blue and Bald mountains, as well as good views of the Mummy range, Longs and Meeker, the Indian Peaks and the hogback foothills and mountains.
Orange line is approx. route up gulch
Parking-13T 0479782mE 4474723mN
Gulch-13T 0479624mE 4474612mE
Summit-13T 0478813mE 4475373mN
1.8 miles RT 1600' elevation gain 2 hours up 2 hours down
The true summit
The false summit
There is no designated trailhead for Alexander Mountain, therefore there are no trails. Because of private property restrictions, one's only option to climb Alexander Mountain is from parking in the Narrows and climbing up any number of gulches that spill out into the canyon. The parking area lies about two miles into the Narrows, immediately before you cross the river for the first time. The small gravel pullout could possibly hold about 5 cars, but it is often not in use. Parking at the pull off, walk across the bridge and up the road a few hundred feet to a series of narrow gulches that cut up the south face of Alexander Mountain. The largest gulch has a drain and culvert at the base, and served as our route up the mountain. Note:
this gulch has a large chock stone about 300 feet in that blocks easy passage. Climbing around it can be achieved easily by climbing up a break in the wall to the right, a difficulty of class 2-3, climbing to the left is hard class 3. The chock stone could be avoided altogether by climbing up another gulch.
Parking before the first bridge The gulch, note culvert and drain grate for reference
Climbing Alexander Mountain
From the entrance of the gulch, climb about 300 feet up to a large chock stone. Climbing around it can be achieved easily by climbing up a break in the wall to the right, a difficulty of class 2-3, climbing to the left is hard class 3. The chock stone could be avoided altogether by climbing up another gulch. After the chock stone, you can try following the dry creek bed directly, or climbing up either ridge that forms the gulch and following it to the summit ridge. Climbing in the stream bed requires bushwhacking through endless bramble growing in the gulch, but the ridges are steep, covered in grass and cacti, and rocky points. I would suggest climbing up the ridges, but coming down the stream bed. It is difficult climbing up through the brambles, but it is difficult climbing down the loose ridges. In fact, climbing down is neither as fun of easy as climbing up. Eventually, a large rock face presents itself in the general area where the summit is, but while it looks like a small point, it is actually a long rocky ridge that leads to a false summit. If you wish to leave the bramble and bushes of the gulch, the class 3 scrambling may be appealing. If you wish to stick to the gulch, you will eventually enter small clumps of Ponderosa pines, then climb up a rocky slope to the forested ridge that leads to the false summit. While the false summit has the best views, it is about 50 feet lower than the true summit, .25 miles north along the flat ridge. The true summit is forested, not a point, not an open area, so continue past that appealing rocky point along the way. The true summit has a large cairn and like Round Mountain nearby, has a clearing just past the summit for views of Palisades Mountain and the Mummies.
Bramble and brush
Be advised that when climbing up the gulch, flash floods can occur, and in several places, the gulch becomes a box canyon for a hundred feet or so. Be wary of changing weather patterns in the area. Also, the terrain you pass through includes a multitude of pleasant sunning rocks for rattlesnakes and Mountain Mahogany, Skunkbrush, and Three-leaf Sumac that hold hordes of Ticks. For these reasons, Alexander Mountain may be best suited for the Fall season; anyways, it's a little mountain good for looking at big mountains covered in snow. Autumn is a good time to mark this one off your list.
Please respect the regulations for Roosevelt National Forest found here
Additionally, there is a nice fire ring built on top of the false summit on Alexander Mountain, along with plenty of room for a tent or two.
External LinksRNF regulations
JoeGrim's TR on Lists of John
Other pictures courtesy of JoeGrim