North Ridge from Timber Lake

Page Type
Colorado, United States, North America
Route Type:
Walkup with a little scrambling
Time Required:
Half a day
Class 2

Route Quality: 2 Votes

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North Ridge from Timber Lake
Created On: Sep 2, 2003
Last Edited On: Sep 2, 2003


From Fort Collins, take hwy 287 north to hwy 14 (Poudre Canyon). Take hwy 14 west 52 miles to Laramie River Road (this road sneaks up on you so if you pass Chambers Lake you know you've gone too far). Go north on Laramie River Road for eight miles to the West Branch Trailhead (right after Tunnel Campground on your left).

Hike up West Branch Trail approximately 6.5 miles. When the trees begin to thin out leave the trail and head south.

If you're planning to set up camp near Timber Lake head south across two meadows that are separated by a small band of trees running east west. When you cross the meadows you'll see a couple of rock outcroppings directly to the south. Aim for the outcroppings and either circle around the top of them or find a path through the middle of them. I wouldn't advise passing below them because that will mean a very steep, slippery climb up to Timber Lake near the waterfall. Once you pass the rock outcroppings the lake should come into view.

Route Description

From Timber Lake, follow the stream that flows into Timber Lake. This stream climbs gently through a beautiful meadow. After a little ways the stream veers off to left (south) and into a mass of willows. At this point you want to leave the stream and angle to your right (north). Continue following the meadow uphill avoiding the thick willows and low pine trees. Continue aiming for the unnamed tarns. Eventually you will meet up with the stream again. Cross it and begin climbing the knob to the south of the tarns.

Go ahead and climb to the top of the knob. By doing so you will not have gained any unnecessary elevation and you’ll have a great view of Clark Peak’s north face and the massive boulder field leading down to Timber Lake. From here you can hug the ridgeline all the way to the summit. You can see the summit from this point onward and one path is just as good as another. The hike remains tundra as you pass below Point 12,654 and then turns into boulder as you begin the steeper slopes of Clark Peak. After the boulders the rocks get smaller and become talus for the last few hundred feet to the summit.

Variation: On the way down I took a slight variation. I descended the way I came to the bottom of the saddle between Clark Peak and Point 12,654. At this point there was a snowfield leading down the east face of the ridge. I glissaded down this until it terminated on the edge of a ledge. From the ledge I descended a steep, talus-filled gully down to the boulder field. (This gully was steep and very loose, but I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t come up this route if you wanted to.) Once in the boulder field it was a straightforward scramble down to Timber Lake. The boulder field is immense. I’d say it’s roughly twice as long as Longs Peak’s boulder field and the rocks in it are also larger than Longs’ on average.

Essential Gear

During the summer months no special gear is needed, just standard kit for hiking in the mountains.

Miscellaneous Info

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North Ridge from Timber Lake

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