Indian Mountain is located in the Front Range
of Colorado. It is also located in a Jeffco Open Space
area known as Apex Park
Apex Park is an extremely popular hiking and mountain biking area and is located right next to Golden Colorado. Several trails in Apex Park pass to within a few feet of the summit of Indian Mountain.
The parks in the Jeffco Open Space system are an important way of preserving open space and provide recreational opportunities to the millions of residents in the cities along the Front Range.
Indian Mountain in itself isn't as spectacular as some of the rugged peaks in Colorado, but is fairly close to the cities and lies in a beautiful natural area. There are also views of the Front Range cities, including downtown Denver from the summit as well.
Considering its proximity to the city, Apex Park is rich in wildlife and bird life. It is a good place to spend a few hours or a full day escaping the daily grind of the cities.
Keep in mind that the trails are all extremely popular for mountain bikers as well, so always keep your guard up.
Looking north from the slopes of Indian Mountain.
Indian Mountain as seen from the east.
Zoom shot of downtown Denver from the summit of Indian Mountain.
Getting ThereEast Access
The East Access to Apex Park is just north of the Colfax/Heritage Road Intersection. Along Heritage Road and just north of the intersection, a road heads west to the parking lot.
Click on the link for driving directions from various points in the cities:
East Access Driving Routes
Zoom shot of downtown Denver from the summit of Indian Mountain.
The west access is from Lookout Mountain Road.
From the Front Range Cities, drive up I-70 to exit 256 and exit towards Lookout Mountain. Turn left on US 40 West and drive up Charros Drive to South Lookout Mountain Road and park at the trailhead located at 116 Lookout Mountain Road. This is about 1.3 miles after exiting I-70.
Click on the link for driving directions from wherever your starting point is:
West Access Driving Routes
There are a lot of possibilities here. There are 9.6 miles of trails in the park. All are well marked and relatively gentle graded, at least for hikers.
My own route was 5.6 miles round trip. I went up the Apex Trail, then up the Sluice Box Trail to the Pick-N-Sledge and Grubstake Trail, which I followed to near the summit of Indian Mountain. the summit was a short cross country stroll from the trail. I returned to the trail and hiked the Grubstake Loop before hiking down the Grubstake Trail to the Pick-N-Sledge Trail and then the Argos Trail back to the trailhead.
Apex Park Map. Click for Full Size.
To reach the summit of Indian Mountain, several trails can be used and many of them can be used to form a loop hike.
The Apex Trail can be used in combination with the Sluicebox, Pick N' Sledge, or even Hardscabble Trails to reach the summit area.
The Argos Trail can be used in combination with the Pick N' Sledge, Grubstake, or Bonanza Trail to reach the area around the summit.
The summit is actually just off the main trails. Since this is a popular area, once the trail is close to the summit (preferably on the Northwest side), follow game tracks through the pine needles to the summit. Some rocks just north of the summit make a good sitting spot.
You can spend a few hours to all day here.
Typical scene on the Grubstake Trail on north-facing slopes.
Junction of the Apex and Sluicebox Trails.
From the east and Lookout Mountain, you can take the Apex Trail or Enchanted Forest Trails along the slopes and drainages and then use the Hardscrabble and Sluicebox Trails to reach the summit area. In summer, this is probably the best access route. You can spend a few hours to most of a day in the area.
The summit of Indian Mountain.
Being right next to the city, there are actually a lot of rules applicable to Apex Park. You can read through them below:
Apex Park Rules and Regulations
Make sure to to stay on the trail in the area of the protected butterfly habitat, north of the Grubstake Trail. Do not cut any switchbacks on any trails either.
When to ClimbSEASONS
Indian Mountain can be climbed year round. A summary of the seasons is below.
Winter (December through February) can be a good time to climb Indian Mountain. It can be cold and snowy or it can be warm and sunny. During warm spells, the trails can be mostly dry. I climbed the peak on February 21 2017 with temperatures in the 70's at the base of the mountain and the upper 60's on the summit! There was only a little ice patch to cross.
Normally, there isn't enough snow to ski or snowshoe on the mountain, but if you hit it after a big storm, it would be possible.
Traction devices for your shoes will be useful for most of the winter. It is rare that there wouldn't be any snow or ice to cross on the trails.
If it has been dry, the mountain tends to be pretty brown in winter.
Part of the very dry Apex Trail on a warm day in February.
Spring is the greenest time of year, at least by late April and May, but conditions are highly variable. Expect anywhere from summer to winter conditions. Spring is the snowiest season as well, but there are also many warm days. Overall though, Spring may be the best month to climb Indian Mountain, at least from an aesthetic standpoint, because of all the greenery.
Summer can be a good time to climb Indian Mountain, but it can be hot, especially on the lower slopes. Get an early morning start in summer. Late evenings are also a possibility. In late Spring and Summer, also be on the lookout for summer thunderstorms, especially in the afternoons.
Fall is an excellent time to climb Indian Mountain, and along with Spring, perhaps the ideal time. In October, there will be some color in the lower drainages, but not as much as in the higher country.
Expect anywhere from summer to winter conditions, but most days should be pleasant.
DAYS OF THE WEEK
Since it is close to a huge metropolitan area, Apex Park is extremely popular. If you can, hike on weekdays. If you do go on the weekend, know that the parking lot filled to capacity relatively early in the morning.
If you must hike on the weekend, if at all possible please carpool or even better, take public transportation.
None. Apex Park is closed from one hour after sunset to one hour before sunrise.
Mountain ConditionsCLICK HERE FOR INDIAN MOUNTAIN WEATHER FORECAST
Weather and climate data for Idaho Springs at 7570 feet elevation is below. *National Weather Service Data 1893-1974. Expect similar conditions on Indian Mountain, though nighttime temperatures will likely be a little warmer on Indian Mountain.
|MONTH||AVE HIGH||AVE LOW||REC HIGH||REC LOW||AVE PRECIP (in)||SNOWFALL (in.) |
| JAN|| 39|| 15|| 62|| -32|| 0.33|| 5.4|
| FEB|| 41|| 16|| 67|| -29|| 0.50|| 8.5|
| MAR|| 46|| 20|| 73|| -23|| 0.90|| 12.3|
| APR|| 54|| 27|| 78|| -6|| 1.78|| 15.1|
| MAY|| 62|| 34|| 89|| 8|| 1.94|| 5.2|
| JUN|| 73|| 42|| 95|| 23|| 1.50|| 0.4|
| JUL|| 77|| 48|| 93|| 28|| 2.59|| 0|
| AUG|| 76|| 46|| 91|| 28|| 2.05|| 0|
| SEP|| 70|| 39|| 92|| 14 || 1.36|| 1.9|
| OCT|| 59|| 30|| 83|| -5|| 0.99|| 7.4|
| NOV|| 47|| 22|| 73|| -21|| 0.64|| 8.6|
| DEC|| 40|| 16|| 66|| -24|| 0.47|| 7.2|