This is a 4000’+ ascent day.
The ideal time to climb Mount Romulus is from late May through September. The issue with late May through June is the water level in the river.
Even if you are a hardened river rat, you might bike in with a pfd to use for the river crossing. Of course I always take booties and sandals and leave them on the opposite bank. On return, I just keep boots and gaiters on to avoid the cold shock since you bike out from the river versus walk. Biking in is the only way to do Mount Romulus or Mount Remus, the Greek twins.
Mount Romulus is farther in on the Little Elbow Trail, approximalty 11kms. Park at the trailhead parking at Little Elbow Campground (you more than likely will be ticketed at $170 per vehicle if you do not follow their instructions for trailhead parking) and bike through the campground to the start of the Little Elbow Trail. This is not fast biking by any stretch, it does take an average biker about one hour to reach the Mount Romulus Campground by the Little Elbow River on your right. You pass Nihahi Ridge
, Mount Fullerton
and Mount Remus
on your right. This is a wide fire road like trail.
As you arrive at the campground sign, turn right and ride to the campsite and take another right once you get to the “boil the water” sign. Park your bike(s) at the rivers edge. The horses use a crossing here and have caused erosion on both sides of the bank to show you what is probably the best line across. If it is running high and furious, it all looks pretty precarious. If it is late summer, you should have zero problems.
Once you reach the opposite river bank, go straight north into the woods. There will not be a trail here, but you are looking to intersect an east-west horse trail in a very short distance. Turn left on the trail and follow it to a deep drainage that is probably dry. The trail crosses the drainage and continues west. You want to ascend the east bank on up into the south drainage of Mount Romulus. Eventually it makes sense to hike right up the drainage itself as it becomes more shallow. This is all good and fast ground compared to your other option, which is scree. Stay in the trees until they absolutely phase out.
If you want to climb, turn left as you exit the trees and ascend up steep slopes to some water worn rock bands. Maneuver through these to the base of the steep cliffs on the east side of the south ridge leading up to Mount Romulus. There are a variety of loose climbing options here. If you want the traditional scramble, continue north out of the trees and wait a few gullies until you turn left to ascend the ridge.
There are several easy breaks farther north along the ridge that involve more scree than climbing. Either way, you will hit the ridge at about 8000’ or a little higher.
From there follow the ridge for about a 1000’ to a fake summit at 9000’. If you have low visibility, from looking at the map you might feel like you should descend a ridge to the right, but in reality, you want to take the left ridge 300’ down to a broad saddle.
Head back up the summit ridge which becomes broad. The summit is somewhat uneventful. There were two summit logs in 2006. We were the third ascent of the year on June 8.
There no doubt might be a quicker descent on your left before retreating back down to 8300’ or so. Our visibility was limited, so we returned to some scree at about the 8300’ mark. Descend back through that water worn band of rock and constantly traverse right on descent until back to the tree line that you emerged from and return the drainage back to the trail below. The river will be higher in the afternoon, no matter what time of year you attempt this peak.
The bike out is quite a bit faster.
Old runners or sandals, maybe some booties and a pfd, hiking poles help with the river crossing and are useful in this scramble in general, gaiters