I cannot say for sure why this mountain is named after the state of Pennsylvania, but I wouldn't be surprised if it has something to do with its topography. Three of Pennsylvania Mountain's four sides are relatively gentle slopes by Colorado standards, and this mountain consists of long, linear ridges capped by a broad summit plateau. However, good luck finding a 13,000-foot mountain in Pennsylvania!
The Turtle Nugget
This area is known for its heavy mining activity of the past and present. Pennsylvania Mountain's claim to fame is the "Turtle Nugget," an 8-ounce nugget of gold found on the mountain's slopes in 1990. SP member JonBradford provided this link as the source of this information.
This mountain can be accessed from north of Fairplay via Colorado 9 (see individual routes for more detailed directions).
Thanks to Aaron Johnson for providing information for public access to Pennsylvania Mountain’s summit plateau. Due to ongoing mining operations and abundant private property on the slopes of Pennsylvania Mountain, I would only advocate hiking this mountain via the Southeast Ridge Route Aaron details. This gentle route is 5 miles roundtrip and has less than 1,300 feet in elevation gain.
Any alternative route to the Southeast Ridge should be carefully researched and may require requesting permission from land owners and miners in the area. The west ridge is one way to hike to the summit of Pennsylvania Mountain, but public access to this ridge is a challenge due to the abundant mining in the area. In December 2004, Colonelpyat and I accessed the area via CR 696. When the road came to a split, we followed the lower road (the upper road was marked as private property) and continued to a dead end. While we walked uphill at this point, it is probably better to go downhill and cross the gulch, then continue west through the gulch along South Mosquito Creek through the willows and evergreens on the creek's south side. I think this route would avoid more of the current mining activity. Once at the saddle between Mount Evans and Pennsylvania Mountain, turn east and follow the gentle west ridge of Pennsylvania Mountain uphill to the large summit plateau. It is an additional 0.6 mile of flat walking to the actual summit, where there is constructed a small wall of rocks.
Estimated Roundtrip total: 5+ Miles; 1,800 feet elevation gain.
While Colorado's Mosquito Range is very accessible and littered with mines and small communities, the views while in the mountains are often tremendous, and it is easy to forget how close you are to society: especially during winter, and especially while on a lesser-known peak such as Pennsylvania Mountain.
As an oft-overlooked centralized rise in the landscape of the Mosquito Range, Pennsylvania Mountain provides unique views of many of the familiar mountains of the area: Dyer Mountain (left), Loveland Mountain, Mount Lincoln, Mount Bross, Torreys Peak, Grays Peak, Mount Bierstadt, Mount Evans (A), and Mount Silverheels (right) to name a few.
Though the summit is within the Pike National Forest boundaries, much of Pennsylvania Mountain is surrounded by mining operations and private property. RESPECT PRIVATE PROPERTY and do not trespass without permission. And, as always, LEAVE NO TRACE. Pennsylvania Mountain's summit is actually within the Pike National Forest boundaries, and can be accessed without trespassing via the Southeast Ridge. No special permits are required to access the summit.
Pennsylvania Mountain can be hiked any time of year. Obviously, you must be wary of thunderstorms during the summer.
This peak is a good snowshoe or ski route in the winter, but beware you may have some willows to contend with, depending on your route.
For current weather and 10-day forecast for the Fairplay area, Click Here.
Note: While this is the nearest town with which to gauge the weather for this mountain, plan on temperatures being cooler than the downtown forecast. Also, don't take warnings or threats of storms lightly. Weather is bound to be worse above timberline; always be prepared!
(Forecast provided by weather.com)