East Ridge-approach loop variation

Page Type
Colorado, United States, North America
Route Type:
easy scramble
Time Required:
Half a day
Class 3

Route Quality: 1 Votes

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Created On: Oct 22, 2003
Last Edited On: Oct 22, 2003


From the Long lake-TH (10,500-ft) follow the Pawnee Pass Trail a quarter mile to the start (east end) of Long Lake. This is a very Long Lake, about a mile in length, go figure. Its source is the combined melt-off from the Navajo and Isabelle Glacier. While en route, you notice the effects of having a constant melt-off; this place is very lush with wildflowers, and also alive with bugs.

After reaching the end of Long Lake, continue another quarter mile and locate a convenient spot to leave the Long Lake Trail and start the ascent up the south slopes of Little Pawnee Peak. I would consider the hiking on this south slope to be easy class 2 with a moderate bushwhacking. There is some downfall to negotiate but attaining Little Pawnee’s broad east ridge is fast and easy.

Route Description

After attaining this broad ridge it’s obvious and easy to locate the rest of the route. Follow this grassy ridge about a half mile; soon it will turn to stable talus. The ridge will quickly begin to narrow and before long you will get your first section of catwalk. Continue ascending the eat ridge until you get to the obvious notch that bars simple passage up the ridge. Locate the section of rock to down climb about 20-ft into the notch (class 3.) Next, ascend up out of the notch back to the ridge crest. At this point the ridge is narrow; you might have to drop down to negotiate some minor vertical steps in the ridge. Continue easy class 3 scrambling to the summit.

Descend the east ridge of Pawnee Peak about a half-mile back down to where the ridge widens and becomes very broad. At this point you can preview your descent down into the Blue Lakes Drainage. If I remember correct you can see the Mitchell Lake Trail about a thousand vertical below on your left. The north slope of Little Pawnee Peak is steep and covered in grass.

Once at the bottom of the slope, negotiate a stream crossing and locate the Mitchell Lakes Trail. There are some marshy areas covered with willows in this area, so stick to the rocks and solid ground. Try not to disturb too much of the delicate ecosystem at the bottom of this slope. Follow the Mitchell Lake Trail about two miles back to the trailhead. From this trailhead, follow the paved road about a half-mile back to the Long Lake Trailhead to your car.

Essential Gear

Always be prepared for an overnight stay, if worst comes to worst.

Miscellaneous Info

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East Ridge-approach loop variation

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