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On Walkabout On: Grays Peak, Colorado

Basic Information

  • Name: Grays Peak
  • Max Elevation: 14,270 ft / 4,350 m
  • Where: Silver Plume, Colorado
  • Distance: 9 miles
  • Time: 6-8 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 3,550 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • More Information: 14ers.com

Route Up Grays and Torreys Peak

Grays and Torreys Route

Topographic Map of Grays and Torreys Peaks

Grays and Torreys Peaks Map

Elevation Data

Grays and Torreys Peaks Elevation

Narrative

Without a doubt two of the most scenic mountains in Colorado are the Grays and Torreys Peaks which are located about an hour west of Denver:


View Larger Map

The mountains are accessed by traveling west on I-70 from Denver and then exiting off the highway at the Bakerville exit.  This exit is located just past the village of Silver Plume.  At the exit just drive across the bridge and follow the Steven’s Gulch dirt road up to the trailhead.  Be warned though that the road is rough and my not be passable by a two-wheel drive vehicle which my cause some people to have to hike up the dirt road.  However, these peaks are worth the extra hike if need be because they are two of the most beautiful mountains in Colorado.

From very far distances the twin bunny ear shapes of these two peaks are visible and quite striking when climbing other mountains in the area.  For example here is a picture of the eastern faces of Grays and Torreys Peaks as viewed from Mt. Bierstadt:

Here is a picture of the western faces of the peaks from Quandary Peak:

You can view more pictures of the peaks from afar at the prior postings below:

Last fall I attempted to climb Grays and Torreys Peaks and was turned around due to an extremely cold and violent windstorm that hit me just before the 14,000 foot level.  I decided to wait until the summer to retry the peak when I could expect better weather.  Access to the summer trailhead has not been available this month until recently due to an avalanche that was blocking the road.  I read on 14ers.com that the snow blocking the road had melted opening up access to the summer trailhead.  I also read online that smoke from the various wildfires burning in Colorado was not blowing towards Grays and Torreys Peaks.  So with the road open, no smoke to worry about, and good weather I decided to take another try at climbing these two peaks.

I left Colorado Springs at 2:30 AM n the morning and arrived at the trailhead around 5:15AM.  I arrived at the trailhead about the same time last fall and I was the first person at the trailhead that morning.  However, this time when I arrived the parking lot and nearby campground were packed.  There was only a handful of parking places left.  I knew this trail was popular during the summer months, but I did not realize that it was this popular.  After parking and getting my gear together I set off down the trail at 5:40 AM.  The trail begins by crossing this iron bridge that spans a swift flowing creek down below:

Picture from Grays Peak, Colorado

The trail at the start is not very steep but steadily ascends up towards Grays and Torreys.  After about 30 minutes of hiking is when the peaks first come into view:

Picture from Grays Peak, Colorado

The sunrise on the peaks was pretty cool to see, but I actually had even better sunrise photographs from the last time I hiked here.  After about 45 minutes of hiking I had an unobscured view of the two peaks:

Picture from Grays Peak, Colorado

The peaks had a lot more snow on them than what I experienced last fall that really added to their scenic beauty.  Additionally the valley floor at the base of the peaks was lush, green, and beautiful which only further added to the scenic ambiance of these mountains:

Picture from Grays and Torreys Peaks, Colorado

Once at the base of the two peaks the trail begins to ascend steeply towards Grays Peak:

Picture from Grays Peak, Colorado

As I was ascending up the mountain I was surprised by the number of people who were coming down.  There was easily about 10+ people who were coming down after climbing the peak that night in order to enjoy the sunrise from its summit.  I thought that was a pretty cool idea and want to try it sometime myself.

As I ascended up the side of Grays Peak I took a breather at a clearing where there was a trail that allowed people to attempt to scale this large rock formation:

Picture from Grays Peak, Colorado

Here was a view from the clearing looking back towards the beautiful valley I had just crossed with the 13,164 foot Kelso Mountain towering on the north side of it:

Picture from Grays Peak, Colorado

Definitely the most photogenic mountain in the area was the snowcapped and pyramid shaped Torreys Peak:

Picture from Grays Peak, Colorado

Here is a panorama image of the impressive 14,267 foot Torreys Peak:

Picture from Grays and Torreys Peaks, Colorado

As I continued up the trail I began to walk across the snowfields on the slopes of Grays Peak:

Picture from Grays Peak, Colorado

The snow made footing a bit slippery at times, but it was not enough to warrant me taking out my microspikes to get better traction with.  After 4 miles and 2 hours and 45 minutes of hiking I found myself on the summit of Grays Peak around 8:30 AM in the morning:

Picture from Grays Peak, Colorado

The altimeter on my Garmin Fenix watch was once again off by just over a hundred feet when I reached the summit:

Picture from Grays Peak, Colorado

Anyway the weather on top of Grays Peak was pretty good and there was only a few other hikers to share the large summit with which was nice.  I had passed a lot of hikers on the trail so I knew that within an hour this mountain top would be a madhouse, so I quickly began to take photos of the view from the summit.  This first picture is looking towards the southeast where the summits of the two 14ers I have previously climbed, Mt. Bierstadt and Mt. Evans were visible:

Picture from Grays Peak, Colorado

Off in the distance to the southeast I could see another 14er I have climbed the 14,115 foot Pikes Peak:

Picture from Grays Peak, Colorado

Looking to the south I could see a wall of beautiful mountains stretching off into the distance from Grays Peak towards South Park:

Picture from Grays Peak, Colorado

To the southwest I could see the Mosquito and Ten Mile Ranges which feature a total of six 14ers among its peaks:

Picture from Grays Peak, Colorado

Here is a closer look at the Ten Mile Range:

Picture from Grays Peak, Colorado

One of those 14ers I had climbed previously, the 14,265 foot Quandary Peak was easily visible:

Picture from Grays Peak, Colorado

Here is the view looking towards the west:

Picture from Grays Peak, Colorado

In the near distance I could see Dillon Reservoir which a major recreational area and water source for the people of Denver:

Picture from Grays Peak, Colorado

In the far distance I could clearly see the famous snowy cross of the 14,005 foot Mt. of the Holy Cross:

Picture from Grays Peak, Colorado

Here is the view looking towards the north where the plateau summit of the 14,265 foot Longs Peak was visible in the far distance:

Picture from Grays Peak, Colorado

Here is a closer look at Longs Peak:

Picture from Grays Peak, Colorado

Longs Peak is considered a classic Colorado hike and it is the last 14er I need to climb in the Front Range.  So I definitely plan on hiking Longs Peak in the future to close out the Front Range in my attempt to climb as many 14ers as possible.  Here is the view looking towards the east where the Steven’s Gulch valley I hiked up was visible down below:

Picture from Grays Peak, Colorado

Here is a closer look at the rugged southern sides of Steven’s Gulch:

Picture from Grays Peak, Colorado

Finally below is a panorama photograph looking towards the west from the summit of Grays Peak.  My next destination, Torreys Peak can be seen pictured on the far right:

Picture from Grays and Torreys Peaks, Colorado

As I was taking pictures from the summit the wind began to pick up and it was getting really cold.  It was still fresh in mind what happened to me last time I try to climb these peaks, so I too this as my cue that it was time to get off of Grays Peak and quickly get to Torreys Peak before the weather got any worse.  So with that I began my descent towards the saddle between the peaks to make my final push to the summit of Torreys.

Picture from Grays Peak, Colorado

Next Posting: On Walkabout On: Torreys Peak, Colorado

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