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On Walkabout On: Torreys Peak, Colorado

Basic Information

  • Name: Torreys Peak
  • Max Elevation: 14,267 ft / 4,349 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

After climbing to the summit of the 14,270 foot Grays Peak, I next turned my attention to descending down the mountain towards the target of my next climb the 14,267 foot Torreys Peak:

Picture from Grays Peak, Colorado

I was very careful with my footing as I descended towards the saddle between the two peaks because the rocks were pretty loose and slippery in some areas.  However, after descending about a 100 feet I realized I forgot my trekking poles on the summit of Grays.  So I had to turn around and go fetch them.  I was a bit frustrated with myself for forgetting the poles and wasting the time an energy it took to go back to the summit because of the cold and windy weather that was rolling in.  If you look at the elevation graph above you will see a little notch on the summit of Grays because of my descent an re-ascent of the mountain.  Anyway after fetching my poles I began to really quickly descend down to the saddle to make up for the time I had lost:

Picture from Grays and Torreys Peaks, Colorado

I did take one break though to take a few more pictures of the area before reaching the saddle.  Here is the view looking to the west:

Picture from Grays Peak, Colorado

Looking west I noticed this scenic high alpine lake tucked on the side of a mountain below Torreys Peak:

Picture from Grays Peak, Colorado

It is always cool to see all the hidden lakes that can be spotted when hiking up these big mountains:

Picture from Grays Peak, Colorado

After about 20 minutes I found myself at the saddle staring up at Torreys Peak:

Picture from Grays and Torreys Peaks, Colorado

The wind was really ripping now and it was quite cold.  I put on some more cold weather gear at the saddle to keep warm.  Due to being a bit tired from one climb already plus the blowing wind, my ascent up Torreys was pretty slow compared to Grays.  Slowly but surely I found myself hitting the snow line near the summit of the mountain:

Picture from Grays and Torreys Peaks, Colorado

Here is a look back at the saddle and Grays Peak from the snowline on Torreys:

Picture from Grays and Torreys Peaks, Colorado

Here is also a look at a scenic little valley at the base of Grays and Torreys that just looked like a stunning place to have a cabin or just spend a weekend camping in:

Picture from Grays and Torreys Peaks, Colorado

Here is a closer look at this scenic valley:

Beautiful Valley Below Grays and Torreys Peaks, Colorado

After about 45 minutes of slowly trudging my way up the slopes of Torreys Peak I finally found myself on the summit of the mountain.  Incredibly the wind became just a breeze by the time I reached the summit and I actually began to get warm due to the extra gear I had put on.  Additionally when I reached the summit I found I was the only person on it.  It would actually be quite a while before anyone else reached the summit which gave my time to take pictures without anyone getting in the way.  Even though it was late June the mountain still had a pretty deep ice cap on it that is visible in the picture below looking east towards Kelso mountain from the summit:

View of Kelso Mountain from the Summit of Torreys Peak, Colorado

Here is the view looking down into Steven’s Gulch that I hiked up to reach these two beautiful mountains:

Steven's Gulch from the Summit of Torreys Peak, Colorado

As I continued to scan to the southeast I could see fellow Front Range 14ers, Mt. Evans and Mt. Bierstadt:

Picture from Grays and Torreys Peaks, Colorado

Here is a closer look at these two mountains with the Sawtooth Ridge that runs between easily visible:

Mt. Evans and Mt. Bierstadt from the Summit of Torreys Peak, Colorado

You can read more about my previous hikes up these two mountains at the below links:

Here is the view looking south where Grays Peak dominates the view:

Picture from Grays and Torreys Peaks, Colorado

I could see many people hiking up and on the summit of Grays Peak now and they all looked like a bunch of ants on a anthill because of the size and shape of the mountain.  Seeing all those people on the mountain though did make me happy that I left early in the morning to hike up the peak to avoid the crowds.

Here is the view looking southwest towards the Mosquito and Ten Mile Ranges:

Picture from Grays and Torreys Peaks, Colorado

Here is the view looking west towards Dillon Reservoir:

Picture from Grays and Torreys Peaks, Colorado

Here is another view looking northwest towards a number of smaller mountains that lie below the mighty Grays and Torreys Peaks:

Picture from Grays and Torreys Peaks, Colorado

Here is the view looking to the north where I could actually see I-70 way down below:

Picture from Grays and Torreys Peaks, Colorado

Finally here are some panorama photos I took from the summit of Torreys Peak.  This first photo goes from northwest to east from the summit:

Picture from Grays and Torreys Peaks, Colorado

This next picture goes from east to south where the summit ice cap is visible on the left and Grays Peak can be seen on the right:

Picture from Grays and Torreys Peaks, Colorado

Here is another panorama of this view looking down into Steven’s Gulch with Kelso Mountain visible in the center:

Picture from Grays and Torreys Peaks, Colorado

Finally here is the view looking south to the west where Grays Peak is visible on the far left and the Mosquito and Ten Mile Ranges are visible to the far right:

Picture from Grays and Torreys Peaks, Colorado

I spent about 30 minutes on the summit of Torreys taking pictures and eating my lunch of granola bars that I brought with me.  By then about 10 hikers total had reached the summit which is far less than amount of people I saw heading up Grays Peak earlier.  This leads me to believe that many people just complete Grays Peak and find out they are too tired to try and climb another 14er.  Anyway after spending a few minutes speaking with some hikers that had reached the summit I then proceeded to head back down to the saddle in between the two mountains:

Picture from Grays and Torreys Peaks, Colorado

Going down Torreys was very quick and I made sure to encourage other hikers heading up the mountain since I was in there same position trudging up the peak not too long ago:

Picture from Grays and Torreys Peaks, Colorado

I reached the saddle in less than 15 minutes from the summit of Torreys.  Here is a panorama photo from the saddle looking down into Steven’s Gulch:

Picture from Grays and Torreys Peaks, Colorado

At the saddle I had to cross a large snow bank that was a bit slippery but I did not need to put on my microspikes to cross it:

Picture from Grays and Torreys Peaks, Colorado

Here is the view from the saddle looking back towards the summit of Torreys Peak:

Picture from Grays and Torreys Peaks, Colorado

Here is the view from the saddle looking down towards Kelso Mountain:

Picture from Grays and Torreys Peaks, Colorado

Soon enough I was off the saddle and on a ridgeline descending down to Steven’s Gulch.  Above me loomed the always impressive sight of Torreys Peak:

Picture from Grays and Torreys Peaks, Colorado

Here is another panorama shot of the peak:

Picture from Grays and Torreys Peaks, Colorado

From the ridgeline I descended back down the trail with Kelso Mountain looming in front of me:

Picture from Grays and Torreys Peaks, Colorado

It was about 11AM now and clouds were beginning to roll in and yet there was still many people heading up the trail:

Picture from Grays and Torreys Peaks, Colorado

My personal rule of thumb is to be heading off of a mountain by noon, not to be starting a hike up it like many people were doing on Grays and Torreys.  Being on a 14er in the afternoon increases the chance of a lightning strike due to the frequent afternoon thunderstorms plus reduces the amount of time for a rescue before nightfall if needed.

Anyway something I enjoyed on the walk down that I did not notice earlier in the morning due to the low light level, was the amount of wildflowers that were blooming in Steven’s Gulch:

Wildflowers at the Base of Torreys Peak, Colorado

The high alpine marshes in Steven’s Gulch was quite scenic as well:

Picture from Grays and Torreys Peaks, Colorado

Alpine Marsh Below Grays and Torreys Peaks, Colorado

Here is a picture of Grays and Torreys Peak with the lush green vegetation of Steven’s Gulch in the foreground:

Picture from Grays and Torreys Peaks, Colorado

Here is the last view of Grays and Torreys I had during the hike before it was obscured by the slopes of Kelso Mountain as I headed back to the trailhead:

Picture from Grays and Torreys Peaks, Colorado

Soon enough I would have difficult time even seeing Grays Peak due to the clouds that were rolling in:

Picture from Grays and Torreys Peaks, Colorado

Despite the weather turning there were still hordes of people heading up the trail.  Anyway something else I took notice of on the way back was the amount of mining activity on the slopes of the mountains:

Old Mine Below Grays and Torreys Peaks, Colorado

The remains of old mines could be seen all over the place, but the Stevens Mine near the trailhead is the only mine still active at the base of these mountains that I am aware of:

Active Mine Below Grays and Torreys Peaks, Colorado

From what I could fine online the mine has veins of Gold, Silver, Copper, Zinc, and Lead.  While researching for information about Stevens Mine I was really surprised to learn that a train once ran on the top of the mountains above the mine between 1880 and 1900.  What a train ride that must have been back then!

Here is the view looking across the valley back towards Kelso Mountain:

Kelso Mountain, Colorado

A short while later I saw the bridge at the trailhead just ahead of me:

Walking Towards the Trailhead of Grays and Torreys Peaks, Colorado

Here is a view from the bridge of the swift flowing creek formed by all the melting snow from the walls of this incredible valley:

Picture from Grays and Torreys Peaks, Colorado

I made it back to the trailhead at noon time.  In total my hike to include breaks took 6.5 hours to complete and I covered a total of 9 miles with 3,550 feet of elevation gain.  So I was pretty tired by the time I got back to the trailhead, but overall not feeling all the bad which was showing how much my conditioning for climbing 14ers is improving this summer.

As I walked back to my truck I was amazed by the amount of vehicles parked along side the road leading to the parking area:

Crazy Parking Situation at Grays and Torreys Peaks, Colorado

There was literally vehicles park about two miles down on the side of the road.  It was actually difficult in some areas for people to drive in two directions because of all the parked vehicles.  The vehicles were parked on the side of the road because the parking lot was completely full:

Filled Parking Lot at Grays and Torreys Peaks, Colorado

It really is pretty amazing how popular this trail is, but I just thought it was great that so many people were getting outdoors and enjoying the mountains of Colorado.

At the parking lot I packed up my gear in my truck, downed one more water bottle, and then proceeded to drive back down the road to I-70 to make the three hour drive back home to Colorado Springs.  Near the trailhead there is this cabin that I would normally say has a beautiful location in the mountains, but considering the amount of people using this road, staying here would be like staying next to a noisy highway:

Picture from Grays and Torreys Peaks, Colorado

The road to the trailhead also passes this old mill house that I assume dates back to the region’s mining glory days in the late 1800’s:

Picture from Grays and Torreys Peaks, Colorado

I also noticed this avalanche shoot that stretches down the side of Kelso Mountain:

Avalanche Damage Near Grays and Torreys Peaks, Colorado

The force of the avalanches that could move so many rocks and trees must be impressive to see.  Finally here is the last picture I took from my trip to Grays and Torreys Peaks:

Torreys Peak as Seen from I-70

The above picture shows the view of Torreys Peak that is visible from the I-70 Bakerville exit.  For those driving through on I-70 there is only a few seconds to see the peak before it is obscured once again by the surrounding mountains.  So look quick or you will miss it, or better yet take the time to drive up to the trail and walk in and see these beautiful peaks for yourself.

Conclusion

Considering how beautiful and easy to access Grays and Torreys Peaks are, it is no wonder why they are such a popular hiking destination for the people of Colorado.  This means that if you are like me and do not like big crowds make sure to get to the trailhead early in the morning.  I parked in the trailhead at about 5:15 AM and there was parking available.  Additionally there was not an overwhelming amount of people on the trail or on the summits when I hiked up that early in the morning.  I estimate that if you leave anytime after 8 AM on the weekend that there will be large crowds to deal with on the trail.  The weekdays are likely less crowded, but I imagine since it is vacation season in Colorado that there will still be quite a few people hiking these peaks on those days as well.  However, do not let this discourage you from visiting these peaks because they truly are two of the most beautiful mountains in Colorado and I highly recommend everyone experiencing them for yourself.

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