Situated less than two miles to the north of I-70 at the Bakersville exit. Bard Peak is a seldom seen peak by the majority of people that drive passed it every day. From its summit, I-70 only comes to view in two places, the Eisenhower Tunnel to the west and just outside of Downieville to the east. Actually, Bard Peak can be seen from Denver. When traveling westbound on I-70 at the Stapleton stretch (Exit 280) look straight west and a little to the south, there will be a pyramid looking peak and a large round peak to its right.
The pyramid looking peak is Bard and the other is Engelmann.
At 13,641 feet this high thirteener is the 176th highest peak in Colorado and the 12th highest in the Front Range. Due to the relatively low peaks that surround Bard the views from the summit are excellent in all directions. Another advantage to Bard is the lack of people that climb it. For being so close to the interstate it’s rarely visited. The neighboring peak to the west ,Mount Parnassus, sees about three times the amount of hikers on its summit, plus Bard provides better views than its neighbor. The only complaint I could think of about this wonderful peak would be the freeway noise, but from the summit the noise was nonexistent.
There are quite a few ways to scale up Bard’s slopes but the two most common are:
*Bakersville (Exit 221), 3,840’ vertical in only two miles, steep, strenuous and all off-trail.
*Herman Gulch (Exit 218) 3,800’ vertical and approx. 5 miles. Plus Mount Parnassus.
Within the immediate area, Bard Peak is not the only recognizable summit submitted here on SP. The popular fourteeners, Grays Peak and Torreys Peak reside just 6 miles to the south. To the west, other notable area highpoints include, Pettingell Peak and The Citadel. The many summits of the Indian Peaks Range and RMNP make up the North vista and the foothills of the Front Range make up the views to the east.
From Denver at I-70 and C-470 drive west for 42 miles to exit 218. There will be a parking lot on the north side of the freeway this is the Herman Gulch Trailhead Park here. There is a restroom facility at the parking lot. Here is an excellent description from Heman Gulch TH.
From Denver at I-70 and C-470 drive west for 39 miles to exit 221. Turn right and find a place to park. The trailhead about a hundred feet down the on-ramp to westbound I-70.
USGS 7.5' map - Grays Peak Colorado
There are no permits required, and no use, summit or parking fees. Interstate 70 is open all year round. If you still have questions, contact the Clear Creek Ranger District of Arapaho National Forest: Clear Creek R.D. web site
WHEN TO CLIMB
Late spring to Early Winter, depending on snow conditions.
There are no National Forest Campgrounds in the area, but car camping is allowed at the Bakerville Exit and Herman Gulch parking lot.
Georgetown is closest town with accommodations with Keystone, Breckenridge, Dillon and Frisco on the other side of the Eisenhower Tunnel.