Looking upstream into the Royal Gorge of the Arkansas River
Talk about obscure. Not only is this peak low by Colorado standards at less than 7,000 feet and unranked with only 95 feet of prominence, but it shares a name similar to dozens of other peaks in Colorado. So why pay a visit?
Location. Views. Solitude.
This obscure little peak, with its summit studded in red rock and a scrubby Piñon and Juniper forest, provides some fine, wide-open views into the deep Royal Gorge of the Arkansas River and across the canyon to neighboring Fremont Peak and Noonan Peak. High desert plant life enjoyed during a visit to this scrubby, obscure peak include Cholla, Prickly Pear, and Gambel Oak in addition to the ubiquitous Piñon and Juniper.
Trails Illustrated Map:
#135 (Pikes Peak, Cañon City)
*Rank and Prominence Reference: Lists of John
Getting ThereBaldy Mountain rises near the mouth of the Royal Gorge on the south rim,
only about 4-5 miles as the crow flies from the center of Cañon City, in Fremont County, Colorado.
The main major road servicing this area is US Highway 50.
Outcrops on the eastern ridge YMCA Mountain from Baldy MountainThe below route can be shortened considerably in dry conditions by making your 4x4 do most of the work for you. Mileage and elevation gain on-foot assumes the gate at Rt 3 / Rt. 341 is locked due to wet conditions.
Approximately 11.25 miles round trip
Approximately 1,650 ft. net gain
This wishbone route takes in both YMCA Mountain and its unranked neighbor, Baldy Mountain (6835 ft.) and leverages dirt roads for easier passage through the brush.
From US 50 west of Cañon City, take Rt. 3 south almost 3 miles to Rt 3A. Take Rt. 3A east for about 1 mile, then turn south on Rt. 341A / Rt. 3. After about 2 miles look for a BLM dirt road / gate on your left. This is your trailhead.
Approaching Baldy Mountain East Ridge of Baldy Mountain
Baldy Mountain resides within Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands and few restrictions apply. There is no fee to enter the area. Note that gate closures will restrict access to foot traffic in wet conditions.
If accessing the peak from the west via Rt 3 / Rt. 341A,be careful to use the entry way south of Volcano Gulch, avoiding the private roadway to the north.
Camping & Lodging
Looking across the Royal Gorge of the Arkansas RiverNear the Mountain
There are ample places to pitch a tent on this BLM property, but be prepared to haul your own water in.
Red Canyon Park
According to the Trails Illustrated map of the area, camping is available in this Cañon City park located north of Cañon City via Rt 9 (which becomes Shelf Road).
Shelf Road Recreation Area
The Bureau of Land Management operates two campgrounds in the Shelf Road Recreation Area about 12 miles north of Cañon City. The Bank (13 sites) and Sand Gulch (16 sites) each have tent pads, picnic tables, fire grates and a vault toilet.
The National Forest Service operates a free, year-round campground about 16 miles south of Cañon City via County Road 143 (Oak Creek Grade Road). There are 16 sites, but no water is available (haul your own).
Weather & Seasons
The mountains around Cañon City are typically warmer and dryer than other mountains of higher elevation in Colorado. Summers
in this area can be painfully – or even dangerously – hot, and very dusty. If visiting YMCA Mountain the summer, you may wish to opt for an early morning sunrise hike or a late evening sunset hike. Fall
would be a pleasant time to visit Baldy Mountain, with moderate temperatures and dry roads making for easy access. It is tempting to visit this area in Winter
when access to the high country is limited by deep drifts blocking roads and high avalanche danger, but note that the BLM closes area dirt roads in wet conditions, meaning a long approach for a small mountain.