Lookout Mountain Overview
Lookout Mountain is another one of Rocky Mountain National Park's (RMNP) relatively unknown peaks. One needs only to climb to the summit of this mountain to see how it got it's name. Lookout sits on the eastern boundry of the park between Wild Basin and the Longs Peak Area. It is the final high point of Mount Meekers southeast ridge. Like Horsetooth Peak
, Lookout is almost always overlooked because of the nearby towering giants. For this reason, Lookout has very few visitors when compared to other peaks in the area. The solitude along with the increadible summit views make Lookout a true gem in RMNP.
It wasn't until I was studying a topo map of the area that I realized Lookout existed. Like many others I had driven past hundreds of times and never paid any attention. There isn't alot of detailed information on routes for Lookout, however, as John Prater
pointed out, Gerry Roach's 13er Guide list Lookout and Horsetooth as extra credit while climbing Meeker Ridge. For this reason I decided to check it out.
From a distance Lookout appears as a tree covered knoll. Upon closer inspection you start to notice the many rock outcroppings on the mountain and with binoculars one can see the suprising class 4 summit block that prevents the casual hiker from reaching the true summit. However due to an excellent class 2 trail from the nearby "town" of Meeker Park, almost anyone can be treated to the awesome views from near the acutal summit.
Getting To The Trailhead
There are two trailheads that may be used to hike Lookout Mountain. One is the Wild Basin Area, which requires substantial bushwhacking and scrambling, and the other is in the "town" of Meeker Park, which offers an excellent class 2 trail with a little scrambling near the top.
Approaching from Estes Park (north):
From Estes Park drive south on Hwy 7 for about 12 miles to Meeker Park. The now closed Meeker Park Lodge is here and your road, Boulder County Road 113N, is directly across the highway from the Lodge. Do not confuse 113N with 113S which is very nearby. A sign that reads Deadend is also here but don't worry, this is the right road. Follow this obvious dirt road for just under a mile to a sign reading trail on the right side of the road. There is parking for about three cars on the left side of the road. Please respect the private property in the area.
To reach Wild Basin continue past Meeker Park for about a mile to the National Parks Wild Basin Area sign. Follow the road to the pay station and your trailhead, the Sandbeach Lake Trail, is located directly across from the station. Parking here is abundant, but can fill up on busy summer weekends.
To approach from Lyons (south), take Hwy 7 north out of Lyons. Wild Basin is about 22 miles from Lyons and Meeker Park is about 23 miles.
The Sandbeach Lake TH in Wild Basin is open and accesible year around.
The Meeker Park TH is sometimes accesible in winter but usually is NOT accesible after a large snow storm.
Using the Meeker Park TH will cost you absolutely nothing and does not require any permits.
The Wild Basin Area requires a National Park pass or entrance fee. The fee is $15 per car for 7 days and $5 per bicycle or motor cycle per person (up to $15). Various passes such as the National Parks Pass will also get you into this park. Check the NPS Rocky Mountain National Park entrance fee page
for the latest information.
When To Climb
Lookout Mountain is most easily climbed in the summer months. Be sure to climb early to avoid the afternoon thunderstorms. Even in summer you are unlikely to encounter any other hikers.
Climbing in winter is possible but will make the route finding and scrambling slightly harder due to slick, wet rock. The approach from Meeker Park is on the northern slopes and can hold substantial snow in winter and into spring. Snowshoes are a good idea in winter and early spring.
There are no designated camping sites in the immediate area of the Meeker Park or Sandbeach Lake THs but details on backcountry camping can be found here
Local Weather And Conditions
Mountain conditions can be found by contacting RMNP
as well as the Colorado Mountain School website