Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Lat/Lon: 40.36062°N / 105.93325°W
GPX File: Download GPX » View Route on Map
Activities: Mountaineering
Season: Summer
Elevation: 12524 ft / 3817 m

Overview


Bowen Mountain and Colorado River Valley, southeastern face



Bowen Mountain sits in the Never Summer Wilderness just outside the boundaries of Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park. From the southwestern entrance of the park, Bowen Mountain can be seen as a prominent peak rising above Colorado River Valley. A 7 mile long trail can be followed from Bowen/Baker Trailhead to the 10690 ft high Blue Lake at the base of the summit of Bowen Mountain. Some maps show a trail that continues above the lake up the eastern ridgeline of Bowen Mountain. I saw no sign of that trail but was able to find my own way through the forest above Blue Lake to a 11200 ft high basin where I hiked up the southeastern slopes to reach the summit.

My hike as described above turned out to be 17 miles long roundtrip. The official park map shows another trail starting at a nameless trailhead south of Bowen/Baker Trailhead making the hike probably a couple of miles shorter.



Blue Lake and the summit of Bowen Mountain

Getting There

Bowen/Baker Trailhead sits on Route 34 (Trail Ridge Road) a few miles north of the southwestern entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park.


Route

All distances are per my GPS.

Place
Elevation
Distance
Bowen/Baker Trailhead
8820 ft
zero miles
Jct. with Bowen Trail
9160 ft
2.70 miles
Jct. with Blue Lake Trail
10160 ft
3.45 miles
Blue Lake
10690 ft
0.95 miles
Summit
12524 ft
1.40 miles
Total One Way
-
8.50 miles


At Bowen/Baker Trailhead, the trail headed west crossing the Colorado River Valley. The tip of Point 12442 ft could be seen to the west. At first I mistook it for Bowen Mountain.

Colorado River ValleyColorado River Valley
Point 12442 ftPoint 12422 ft & Mineral Point


At a signed junction, Baker Trail branched to the right. The trail continued left and soon exited Rocky Mountain National Park. It went up a little and began to traverse a slope heading south in a pine forest. After 2.7 miles, the trail reached a T. Left was probably a shortcut back to Route 34 to the nameless trailhead (Bowen Trail). I turned right and continued west up the trail in Bowen Gulch along the stream. The trail crossed the stream twice over a couple of bridges. I did not have any mountain views in that long section.

On Bowen Trail
One of the bridges on Bowen TrailBridge over Bowen Creek


6.15 miles from trailhead, I reached the signed junction with Blue Lake Trail where I turned right. The trail traversed a meadow with pretty flowers.

Meadow on the trail to Blue Lake
Meadow on the trail to Blue Lake

On the trail to Blue Lake


Cascade Mountain came to view behind me.

Cascade MountainCascade Mountain


After 7.1 miles, I reached Blue Lake. Bowen Mountain finally appeared. Its eastern ridge-top was cliffy and not a place I wanted to hike.

Bowen Mountain from Blue LakeBowen Mountain & Blue Lake


I looked for a trail beyond the lake but did not find one. Went to the east and north side of the lake and began to whack my way up the slopes through a forest and a boulder field.

Bushwhacking in the forest above Blue LakeBushwhacking in the forest
Blue LakeBlue Lake

Bowen MountainBowen Mountain


Longs Peak could be seen to the far east.

Longs Peak & Chiefs Head PeakLongs Peak


Looking back at Blue Lake.

Looking back at Blue LakeBlue Lake


At around 11200 ft of elevation, I reached a fairly flat area at the base of the peak where there was a small pond.

Summit of Bowen MountainBowen Mountain


The rough looking eastern ridgeline.

The jagged eastern ridgeline of Bowen MountainRidgeline to the east of Bowen Mountain


I went toward the grassy slopes and followed them to the top.

On the slopes of Bowen MountainSummit
The summit of Bowen MountainSummit


Point 12084 ft to the south of Bowen Mountain.

Point 12084 ftPoint 12084 ft


Views from the summit.

Blue LakeBlue Lake
Lake GranbyGranby Lake
Cascade MountainCascade Mountain
Parkview MountainParkview Mountain
Fairview Mountain & Point 12422 ftFairview Mountain
Baker, Stratus, Nimbus, Cumulus, Howard etc MtnsBaker, Stratus, Nimbus, Cumulus etc
Specimen Mountain, Grand Ditch seenSpecimen Mtn, Grand Ditch seen
Ruby Mountain & Ruby LakeRuby Mtn & Lake

Longs Peak & Chiefs Head PeakLongs Peak

Red Tape

You have to pay to enter Rocky Mountain National Park. Otherwise no permits for day hikes.

When to Climb

Summer.