On June 23rd, 2002, I headed out to tackle these two fourteeners. I headed to the Bakersfield exit off of I-70 to reach the Stevens Gulch Trailhead.
You would think that with the trailhead just off of I-70, it would be easy to reach. In distance, yes, but in driving, no. First of all, I had a Ford Escort. My car was pretty small and a 2WD and I was basically off-roading! There are divots and rocks that make this a very difficult and potentially dangerous drive. Of course, I made it up the road alright. No flat tires or busted rims. I got to the trailhead a little before 6:30am. It was a beautiful day for a hike, with clear blue skies. There were less than 10 cars when I got there, and probably 50 when I returned.
The main trail gradually climbs between a huge rigde on one side, and Kelso Mountain on the other. After a couple miles, there are signs that show the remaining distance to the summits. I chose to hike up Gray's Peak first. Because the trailhead is about 11,000 feet, I was above tree line pretty quickly.
Grays Peak (left) from early on the trail - with Torreys Peak poking out at the right of the photo
The trail to Gray's winded around, so the hike is never too steep. Up on the higher ridges I could see a mountain goat wandering about. The summit wasn't far off now. Once on the summit, it really didn't feel like 14,270'. It wasn't too cold and there was little snow on Grays or the surrounding mountains. The view from Grays is colorful, and quite pretty.
View of Torreys from the trail up Grays View from the Grays summit Grays from the ridge route up Torreys
After 20-25 minutes or so on the top of Grays, it was time to bag Torreys Peak. I went down to the ridge between the two. The hike from Grays summit to Torreys summit took me about 20 minutes. Both have great views, but Grays is better. I could see the smokey haze from the Colorado fires in Pike National Forest, particularly the Hayman fire, which ravaged the Western areas in between Colorado Springs and Denver during the summer of 2002.
At the summit of Torreys the views were also pretty nice. We had a friend join us as you can see in the photo below.
Yes, the mountain goats are one thing that makes these mountains so special. On the way down I encountered a great deal of traffic. The trail is narrow at points, making the descent difficult in the summertime.
To sum up, Grays and Torreys are beautiful mountains, with a good hiking trail, and great views on the trail and at the top. With such well-crafted hiking trails, it is amazing that it has an extremely crappy road to the trailhead. Maybe they do that on purpose to discourage major crowds? If that is true, it has proven futile, since it is right off a major road, it is too crowded in the summertime. So many cars on the crappy road must only make the road worse. I am not particularly a fan of class 1 hikes like Grays and Torreys. I am a class two, class three type of climber. However, I couldn't help but appreciate the beauty of these mountains. Their accessibilty is always a plus. While my proudest achievement in mountain climbing is still Longs Peak via Clarks Arrow route, I still like to take a nice walk in the mountains now and then.