Mount Bancroft is the next-door neighbor of James Peak, just south along the Continental Divide. Bancroft is 13,250 ft, the 8th highest summit in the Indian Peaks. On a beautiful spring day, when the route up James Peak
via St. Mary's Glacier is packed with hikers, climbers, and skiers, you will find Mt. Bancroft to be quiet and isolated. There are several beautiful alpine lakes and the views from the summit are spectacular. For skiers, the east facing bowl offers one of the best mountaineering descents in the Indian Peaks, but it's not for the faint of heart. For hikers, you can easily access Parry Peak, the highest peak on this part of the Divide, from the summit of Mt. Bancroft. In the summer the bowls and basins of Bancroft are filled with a profusion of wild flowers, so it is well worth the trip even if there is no snow for skiing.
To access the east side of Bancroft and the ski route, you have to drive to Loch Lomond. In the spring drive as far as you can, and then walk in. To follow the southeast ridge route described above you can park before the lake, but you will end up walking back to the car because the ski route ends at the lake. From Denver take I70 west toward Idaho Springs. Just past Idaho Springs take exit 238 which will say Fall River Road. Just a little after exiting take a right onto Fall River Road. Follow this around 8 miles to the lefthand turnoff for the town of Alice. This is road 275 and from here it gets confusing. What you want to do is go as straight as you can through Alice, which is a collection of houses and cabins of various architecture. Alice was a mining town, renamed in 1868 when the Alice Mine was discovered. It was also a stagecoach stop between Central City and Georgetown for the route over Yankee Hill. You will pass an old mine site that is in someone's yard,on your right, but keep going. Eventually you will come to a right turn into the woods that is not marked but doesn't have any obvious houses up along it. This is Stewart road (but it's unlikely there is a sign) and this is the road to Loch Lomond. Turn right at Stewart Road and drive straight until you reach the lake or until snow blocks the road. The road turns into a 4WD-only road about a third of the way in from the right turn. If you are in a car you will have to park once this happens, near a tailing pile at around 10,4000ft. A regular high clearance vehicle can make it in the rest of the way. There are turnouts along the way where you can park one or two cars. Its about two and a half miles from the right turn to the lake. See the Southeast Ridge/Bancroft Bowl Route under ROUTES for the actual hiking/skiing directions.
On Feb 11, 2005 chrismzeller adds:
I climbed this peak from Loc Lemond, and walked up the entire Loc Lemond Road as it was totally snowbound. In mid winter a better variation would be from St. Mary's Glacier as it would allow you to ski the whole glacier down rather than the road which had little snow.
From the St. Marys parking area hike to the top of the glacier and head south across the treeless plain. Instead of heading west up the south ridge of James Peak head south and drop into Loc Lemond. The slope here is moderate 5-800'. Once at Loc Lemond you can join the normal route up the south east ridge. Map miles are the same as via the road. The only disadvantage would be sligtly more elevation gain in traversing the ridge between St. Mary's Lake and Loc Lemond with the reward of more skiing.
No red tape or permits.
Mt. Bancroft is in Clear Creek County and Arapaho National Forest.
Boulder District Ranger
Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests Supervisor
Or visit the website at
When To Climb
Bancroft can be accessed from around the middle of April until the road snows over in the fall. Skiing can be good until the end of June, if we have a normal snow year. The spring access will depend on when you go and the snow for that year. It is best to plan on walking an extra couple of miles in case you can't drive all the way in to Loch Lomond. Then you can be pleasantly surprised if you can drive further in. There are some places to park along the sides of the road. If you would like to hike the peak in the fall the road is probably open until around mid-November, depending on the amount of early snowfall. The road is not plowed though, so it's best to take a 4WD vehicle if you plan to hike in the late fall.
There are no developed Forest Service Campgrounds close to the east side of Mt. Bancroft. Dispersed camping is allowed on National Forest Service land but above Loch Lomond the terrain is above treeline so it will be hard to find a sheltered camping site. The Mt. Bancroft area looks from the maps like it is administered by the Boulder Ranger District 2140 Yarmouth Ave, Boulder, Colorado 80301 Phone (303) 541-2500 TTY: (970) 498-2727 Fax: (303) 541-2515.
I suspect there is some really good fishing in the upper lakes. I once saw huge trout in Lake Caroline.
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