When I moved to Colorado Springs my real estate agent pointed out Mt. Baldy to me. Little did I know that it was actually Almagre Mountain. Mt. Baldy is just to Almagre's south across a saddle that holds Stratton Resevoir. I climbed Mt. Rosa a couple of weeks earlier and got a good idea of how to get to Almagre. I knew it would be an easy climb, so I decided to take my son, JP. We left home at 9:00 a.m., stopped at Starbucks and made it to the trailhead by 10:15. What I didn't realize was the extent of 4 wheeling that would be involved. I took Old Stage to Gold Camp Rd. and turned onto 379. That is where the fun started. It was 1.6 miles from the beginning of 379 to Frosty Park and another 2.8 to the right turn on FR379. From that point it was 1.6 miles to the gate at Stratton Resevoir. This is tough road and if you don't have an SUV don't try it. My 4Runner did OK, but I felt that I was pushing it. I'm coming from 12 years on the east coast, so this seemed like 4-wheeling of epic proportions. I know that I will get used to it with time. We parked at the gate and started our short 1.5 mile hike. JP and I had the mountain to ourselves. There is already a decent amount of snow up there, especially on Baldy, so it was nice to get our first true taste of winter. Climbing through the saddle and around Stratton Resevoir is a dramatic place. To the east we could see the Springs and to the west and south we were getting fleeting glimpses of the Sangre de Cristos. It all opened up to us when we made it to the summit. Pikes was to our north and we got to see the cog train hauling low-lander trinket seeking tourists to the top. It was JP's altitude record to date. He has made me promise to do a 14er with him next summer. We spent about an hour on top then headed down in good time. That was the end of our solitude. On the way down we came across at least 10 other SUVs of varying sizes making their way up the narrow one-car wide road. Fortunately, everyone gave us the right of way and realized that it was easier to go down in reverse as compared to up. Each time the upcoming trucks had to back down to a clearing to let us pass, but everyone was cool about it.
This is an extremely easy hike from the FR379 gate. The problem is getting there. If you are squeamish about narrow pot-holed rock-strewn roads with sharp drops, park your vehicle and enjoy the walk. If not, enjoy the ride. It is long, but worth it. The views are fantastic. For me the greatest satisfaction is the company I kept. It is extremely satisfying for me to climb with my son. I see the confidence it builds in him and the bond we have when we hike.
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