Northeast Ridge

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 39.74406°N / 106.30613°W
Seasons Season: Summer, Fall
Additional Information Time Required: One to two days
Additional Information Difficulty: CLASS 3 TO 5
Sign the Climber's Log


The Northeast Ridge is the longest ridge climb on " The Elephant" 

Getting There


Brush Creek Trailhead is the only viable trailhead for the Northeast Ridge Route.

From Silverthorne, drive north on Hwy 9 16 miles and turn left on the Heeney Creek Road (CR 30.).

With 2WD: park at the Kansas Gulch-Grandview Cemetery - 0.7 miles to the right after turn off. Don't miss the marker with the interesting (and tragic) history of the first settlers in this area.

With 4WD: turn sharp left 0.6 miles after turn off onto FS 1695. The first half mile is a steep, rocky and narrow dirt road with only enough space for one car. Meeting a a car on one of the steep ascents may put you into a tricky spot. Any rain will turn the road into a slippery mess. The road relents after the initial climb but there are still several deep ruts to be mastered until you reach the Brush Creek Trailhead.

Notice: FS 1696 is closed for vehicle traffic between Nov 20th and June 23rd - the gate right at the beginning of the forest road will be locked.


Route Description

The hike from CR 30 up to the Brush Creek Trailhead takes less than an hour (should you gauge benefit of driving up there vs risk of damage to your car).

From Brush Creek TH hike to the junction with Gore Range Trail. Turn right (Northwest) on Gore Range Trail until reaching the  junction with Lost Creek Trail. Turn left (Southwest) onto Lost Creek Trail.

About half way to Lost Lake you will enter a patch of dead pine trees. The most Southern part of the patch forms a flat and narrow pass between the Brush Creek and Black Creek Drainage (right South of Point 9795). One can see Dora Mountain through the trees on the other side of the Black Creek Valley.

Leave the trail to your right (West) and hike the 60 ft or so to the steep drop off down to the Black Valley. The tricky part is that (status 2019) there is no trail whatsoever indicating where to turn off from Lost Creek Trail - it's just brush and fallen trees. When reaching the drop off look around a bit and (almost) miraculously a well built 2 ft wide trail starts right at the edge of the drop off and leads into the Black Creek Drainage. This trail is not marked on any map.

The trail skirts almost level around the North side of Guyselman Mountain and switchbacks eventually up into the South Black Creek Valley. Ironically this long forgotten route must be the best built trail in the entire Gore Range.  A lot of man power must have been used decades ago to dig it into the mountain side and shore it up with stone walls.Don't be surprised if you feel like a character of Grimm's fairy tales or Lord of the Rings on this hidden and lonely path.

The trail will eventually drop you off in a large meadow along the South Black Creek. This is an excellent place for a camp.

Cross the creek and scramble up one of several boulder fields to reach the crest of the Northeast Ridge. Climb along the ridge to the summit of the Elephant. One gendarme on the ridge would require a Class 5 climb, but can easily be bypassed to the right (West). Direct ascent of the summit block would be also a Class 5 climb, but the gully in the middle of the block offers a Class 3 route up to the summit ( snow filled into the summer).

Notice for the return trip to camp: 

There is no established trail leading from the first meadow higher up into the South Black Creek Valley, only faint climbers/animals trails which may be hard to follow. 

After descending down the South Face into the South Black Creek Valley you may end up bushwhacking quite a bit of the way back to your camp.


Essential Gear

Late Spring: ice axe and crampons may come handy - helmet

Summer: helmet

External Links




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