|Old Baldy is the Alias given to Peak 13,038, which is located just east of South Arapaho Peak. It’s a large round mountain that is not one of the most impressive summits in the Indian Peaks. From Denver it is fully visible, but very indistinguishable. It just looks like a broad ridge leading up to South Arapaho Peak. Only on days that the clouds are covering the Arapaho Peaks, but not Old Baldy, is when it’s fully distinguishable. This peak seams to be an invisible peak in full sight. |
Many peaks are climbed because of there difficulty and they pose a challenge, some are because they have a nice trail the top, others are because they are the high point of an area. Old Baldy is none of these. It is a wonderful easy mountain with magnificent views. This Peak is also often hiked in conjunction with the Arapaho Peaks.
Many of the Indian Peaks easiest routes are class 3, or have a class 3 routes on them. Old Baldy’s easiest route is a class 1-2 and most difficult route is a class 1-2. Both routes have a trail leading up most the way and is off trail for the last few hundred feet up to the top. Even though it’s easy, it’s fairly long. From Rainbow Lakes Campground it’s about 6 miles to the summit and rises about 3,040 feet.
This mountain has an incredible view of the Arapaho Peaks,
Apache Peak Massif, the Arapaho Glacier and the peaks along
the Continental Divide south of the Arapaho Peaks.
This peak sees a few hikers a week, yet is not overcrowded. You very well could be the only one of top of this peak or see less then 5 people on top on a busy weekend. On the Arapaho Glacier trail you will see lots of people near the bottom of the trail, but the higher above tree line, you get, the fewer they become. Many People stop at about 11,200 feet just after they get to see their first view of the Indian Peaks. Others find there way to the benchmark Caribou at 12310 feet.
Old Baldy is also the lowest of the 13ers in the Indian Peaks, yet still rises over 3,000 feet from the Rainbow Lakes Camp. From 4th of July camp it rises about 2,900 feet.
Rainbow Lakes and 4th of July don’t have a fee either, which is another added bonus to this Peak. Many People hike Mount Audubon since it’s an easy peak to do in the Indian Peaks, but there is a fee for $6 to get in that area. Old Baldy is free and sees less people, but it’s also not as high.
Old Baldy is a good introductory peak to do in the Indian Peaks. It’s an easy peak with great views, just plan on a long day!
Getting ThereRainbow Lakes Campground/Arapaho Glacier Trail Head
From Nederland head north, or from Ward head south to the Rainbow Lakes Road (FR 298). Turn west on Forest Road 298 at the sign for the CU Mountain Research Station. Take this road all the way back to the Rainbow Lakes Camp, Which is about 6 miles. The trail head is at the back of the campsite. The road is a bit rough but passenger cars might be able to make it back with no problem. This was the case in 2005, but I have not been up there since.
4th of July Trail head
for directions to the trail head.
There are only 2 routes to this peak. Any other possible route is in the Boulder Watershed and access is not allowed.
Arapaho Glacier trail
This trail starts roughly at 9960 feet. The length is about 6 miles to the top. Elevation gain is about 3,078 feet. After you pass point 12,771 get off the trail and hike to the top. This route is really easy, but it’s long, so plan for a half day.
4th of July Trail head
Take the Arapaho Pass trail till you get to the Arapaho Glacier trail. Follow the Arapaho Glacier trail till you get to the pass between the Arapaho Peaks and Old Baldy. Follow the broad ridge to the summit.
This route is shorter and gains about 2,900 feet. I’m not sure what the mileage is, but it’s about 4-5 miles to the top.
North of Old Baldy owned by the City of Boulder and supplies the city it’s drinking water. This area is off limits.
4th of July Trail head
there are about 10 campsites available here. No fee. You might be able to find a few along the road as well.
Rainbow Lakes Road:
The Rainbow Lakes Campground is at the end of the road. The fee is $10 per night. Rainbow Lakes Campground has 16 spots and fills up fast on weekends. There are 3 restrooms and no running water, bring a water filter. Before reaching the campsite there are a number of places you can camp along the road for no charge.
Camping in the Indian Peaks Wilderness is required by permit only. Click here
for information on obtaining a permit.
When to climb
The Rainbow Lakes road is Closed for the winter and opens roughly around Memorial Day Weekend. Climbing this mountain in the winter is possible, but cannot be done in one day. Skiing or snowshoeing along the Rainbow Lakes Road will add about 6 miles to get to the trail head.
North of Old Baldy owned by the City of Boulder and supplies the city it’s Drinking Water. This area is off limits.