This route to Stanley Mountain starts at Berthoud Pass. To reach Berthoud Pass take I-70 to HWY 40, drive up past the small town of Empire to mile marker 243. Park in the large lot and cross HWY 40, the trail begins just before the speed limit sign. There are several other small trails starting just off the highway, I suggest this one because it is so straight forward and they all pretty much lead to the same place.
Start up the steep, mostly gravel trail and you will intersect with a gentle trail that will continue to lead you up the ridge. Once atop the first ridge the views open up and ahead is the steepest part of the hike to Stanley Mountain. Just after hiking the switchbacks up this steep hillside you will find yourself at the sign for the Vasquez Peak Wilderness. Continue along the moderate grade trail past a few unnamed summits until the trail brings you within a few yards of the summit of Stanley Mountain. Hop off the trail and hike to the small pile of rocks that marks the 12,521-foot summit. From here you get some great views of the surrounding peaks and you can also see the Henderson Mine where they are still actively mining Molybdenum.
From the summit of Stanley Mountain it is suggested that you continue down and back up the very steep Vasquez Pass to Vasquez Peak, 12,947'. As the highest summit in the area it is the namesake of the Vasquez Peak Wilderness. Just remember before you decide to hike up to Vasquez Peak you must have the time and energy to make the extra-steep climb back down and up Vasquez Pass.
Be aware that most of this hike is above treeline and therefore high winds and lightning can be major concerns. Make sure to be off the peak by midday, as afternoon weather conditions can deteriorate rapidly on the high ridges. We had planned to hike to Vasquez Peak but had to turn back at Stanley because of 45+ mph wind gusts.
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