Subscribe!Get all the best of On Walkabout by subscribing.

On Walkabout On: Mt. Antero, Colorado via the Baldwin Gulch Trailhead

Basic Information

  • Name: Mt. Antero
  • Range: Sawatch Mountains
  • Where: Nathrop, Colorado
  • Elevation: 14,269 feet (4,283 meters)
  • Distance: 16 miles round-trip (From 2-wheel drive trailhead)
  • Elevation Gain: 4,877 feet
  • Difficulty: Hard (From 2 wheel drive trailhead)
  • More Information: 14ers.com

Route Up Mt. Antero

Antero Route

Topographic Map

Mt. Antero Topo Map

Note: You can print bigger images of this map by going to this link and then right clicking with your mouse and then saving the map to your computer for printing.

Elevation Graph

Antero Elevation Graph

Narrative

From the various mountains that I have climbed in the Front Range and especially the Mosquito Range, the large mountains of the Sawatch Range are easily visible since they include some of the highest peaks in Colorado.  In fact the Sawatch includes the highest point in the entire Rocky Mountains, Mt. Elbert which is 14,433 feet high.  I had not done any hiking in the Sawatch Range yet so I was looking forward to climbing at least one peak in the range this summer.  I decided to climb Mt. Antero first simply because it was located near the Mt. Princeton Hot Springs Resort.  My family has been wanting to check out the resort so I recently booked a couple of nights at the resort and used it as a base camp to hike up the 14,269 foot Mt. Antero:


View Larger Map

Mt. Antero is the 10th highest peak in Colorado and has actually reached a level of fame due to it being used as the setting for the Weather Channel’s “Prospectors” reality TV show.  The mountain has a long history of being home to many rare gems and crystals that has made a few prospectors over the years quite rich.  However, the name of the mountain has nothing to do with gems and instead everything to do with the area’s Native-American past.  The mountain is named after Chief Antero of the Uintah band of Utes that once roamed much of Colorado and now call reservations in southwestern Colorado and Utah home.

I have no idea if the Utes ever bothered to climb Mt. Antero, but I sure was planning to.  My original plan was to get an early start, make the short drive down County Road 162 to the trailhead, and then see if I could drive a ways up Baldwin Gulch Road.  I left the resort at 3:30 in the morning an reached the trailhead 15 minutes later.  Along the way to the trailhead I even saw a bear run across the road.  I tried to keep my lights on him so I could take a picture, but he ran away unfortunately.  Anyway at the trailhead I began to drive up Baldwin Gulch Road an found it to be very rough.  After a short drive up the road I decided to turn around and park at the trailhead.  I did not want to beat up my Ford Escape anymore than I needed to when I could just simply walk in.  It was going to be a long walk though because my guidebook listed the hike at 15 miles round-trip.  So I began the lonely walk up Baldwin Gulch Road in the darkness.  It was definitely a bit creepy walking through the forest especially after just seeing a bear and then hearing various critters moving around in the darkness.  Eventually I reached the original area I wanted to park three miles up the road at the Balwin Creek crossing:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

The creek crossing is located at about 10,500 feet and I could see a few people camped out near the creek.  Though it was dark out, the crossing ended up being pretty easy since there was large rocks placed in the stream to allow hikers to easily get across it.  As I continued up the road I could see the first rays of the sun beginning to take hold in the sky above the trees:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

At treeline I passed a number of people camped out at about 12,000 feet who appeared to be prospectors who had just woken up and appeared to be preparing breakfast.  I wished them good morning as I passed by and then proceeded to enjoy the views now provided by the rising sun and the fact I was above treeline:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

As I broke through treeline I was rewarded with an absolutely stunning sunrise on the nearby 13,870 foot Cronin Peak:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

Besides its reddish color what else I found interesting about Cronin Peak was that it is named after Mary Cronin who in 1921 became the first woman to climb all of Colorado’s 14ers.  Considering how unique and beautiful this peak is, this should be seen as a fitting tribute to one of Colorado’s early climbing pioneers.  Something else I noticed as I looked at Cronin Peak was a herd mountain goats grazing on one of its alpine meadows:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

Out of the all the hiking I have done in Colorado this is actually the closest I have come to seeing a mountain goat in the wild.  It is a bit frustrating when people I know tell me they have seen huge herds of the goats up close on peaks I have already climbed and I saw nothing.
Anyway the sun rising on Cronin Peak continued to catch my eye as I hike up the road:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

The road above treeline features a variety of switchbacks which is what makes this hike so long.  There are areas where a hiker can attempt to cut the switchbacks which I did once and found to be hard on the knees trying to cross loose rock.  So I just decided to follow the road the whole way up the mountain which gave me plenty of time to take in the great views of the surrounding Sawatch Range when not dodging the handful of four wheel drive vehicles heading up the road that morning:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

Eventually the road at about 13,000 feet reaches this high alpine meadow which provides a nice view of neighboring 14ers, Mt. Shavano and Tabeguache Peak:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

Like Mt. Antero both of these peaks are Ute names.  These two peaks are commonly hiked together and are on my short list to complete.  Right now depending on weather I plan on hiking up these mountains in October.  Shavano, Tabeguache, and Antero are three of only four peaks in Colorado with Native-American names.  The other mountain is Uncompahgre Peak in the San Juan Range.  It seems to me that there should be more mountains given names that honors the Native-American past of Colorado, but maybe that is just me?  Anyone else have an opinion on this?

Anyway from the high meadow the road comes to an intersection.  Hikers will want to take the increasingly rugged 278A road that leads towards the summit of Mt. Antero:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

Once again there is an option to cut the switchbacks here to shorten the hike, but I just stayed on the road an soon enough I was at the parking lot at 13,800 feet.  At the parking lot I saw the handful of four wheel drive vehicles that passed me earlier in the hike.  The people still at the parking lot ended up being the camera team and producers for the “Prospectors” reality TV show.  I wished them good morning, but after such a long hike I was breathing pretty hard and was too tired to carry on much of a conversation with them though they were nice enough.  From the parking lot the crux of the hike begins.  There is a rugged ridgeline that runs towards the summit of Mt. Antero:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

Considering how easy of a hike it was to this point due to the road, I was surprised to find that getting to the summit was going to take a little more effort than I was expecting.  As I crossed the ridgeline I noticed that to the left there was some pretty good exposure, so I stayed on the right where there was not as much exposure:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

I was very careful with my footing because the rocks here are very loose.  My hiking poles came in very handy on this portion of the hike to help me keep my balance on the loose rocks.  As I crossed the ridgeline I could hear voices and hammering noises ahead of me.  This ended up being some of the “Prospectors” cast members preparing their claims that morning for filming.  You can see one of them in a red jacket working on the claim in the bottom right of the below picture:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

When I crossed the ridgeline I spoke with them for a minute where they told me they were gem hunting and did not seem to interested in talking too me.  I am not the type to bother celebrities, if you can consider them celebrities, for pictures or autographs so I just continued on my way.  I did not come to Mt. Antero to gawk at celebrities; I came to hike up this peak and enjoy being in the mountains again.  After the ridgeline the hike up the mountain is steep and once again I had to deal with loose rock:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

I was very careful as I ascended up the peak and once again my hiking poles were invaluable in helping me to not turn an ankle or twist a knee.  Here is a view from my ascent up the final summit dome of the rugged ridgeline where the parking lot at 13,800 feet can be seen towards the center of the photo:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

Here is a panorama from the same spot:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

As I was taking the photographs I could actually hear the “Prospectors” cast members going through their filming.  Since it is reality TV they have to talk very loud and I could see them looking at a claim down below that they were working on earlier with the camera team behind them.  As I continue up towards the summit I was surprised I could still hear them filming down below.  Either they talk really loud or sound just travels very well on Mt. Antero.

Soon enough I was on the summit and happy to take a break from dealing with the loose rock for a while:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

I started the hike at 4:30AM and took me just under five hours to reach the summit and I was pretty tired and ready to take a break.  On the summit I did find a summit register, but I have quit signing these things because often there is not a summit register and when there is one it is usually illegible due to water leaking into the tube:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

From the summit the first thing that really caught my eye was how impressive the neighboring 14er to the north, the 14,197 foot Mt. Princeton is:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

The trailhead up Mt. Princeton is also near the Mt. Princeton Hot Springs Resort and this mountain is also on my short list to hike.  I am planning on hiking up this mountain during the winter since the route is usually very safe from the threat of avalanches.  It also gives my family an excuse to go back to the hot springs this winter!  Also visible down towards the base of Mt. Princeton is the whitish colored Chalk Cliffs which the hot springs resort is located near:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

The Chalk Cliffs are an unusual geologic feature in Colorado and are more impressive to see down below.  Despite its name these cliffs are not made of chalk, but instead are composed of a mineral called kaolinite which is a soft rock that’s created by hot springs percolating through cracks in the rocks and creating the whitish color. This rock was slowly pushed up as the mountain was pushed up by the same volcanic activity that created the hot springs.

Here is the view of more of the mighty peaks of the Sawatch Range to the northwest:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

After 15 minutes of being on the summit by myself a young couple came up.  I spent some time talking with them and they were very knowledgeable about the Sawatch Range.  They were able to point out to me the summits of the many other 14ers in the range.  Here is the view looking towards the west where out in the distance the peaks from the Elk Range near Aspen could be seen:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

Here is the view towards the southwest where a wide valley at the base of Cronin Peak could be seen:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

Other than Mt. Princeton, Cronin Peak was definitely the most eye catching peak from the summit of Mt. Antero:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

Its reddish, orange color along with its Pyramid shape really made it quite a scenic peak.  The color of this peak is caused by the volcanic activity in this section of the Sawatch Range millions of years ago.  Unlike the rest of the range the southern section of the Sawatch from Mt. Princeton to Mt. Shavano are the eroded remains of a supervolcano.  Just like the San Juan Range has a lot of multi-colored mountains because of its past volcanic activity, the southern section of the Sawatch does as well.

Besides Cronin Peak in the above picture the windy road up Mt. Antero is also visible all the way to treeline.  Something else I noticed to the southwest, way out in the distance was that the 14,309 foot Uncompahgre Peak and its neighboring 14er, the 14,015 foot Wetterhorn Peak could be seen:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

Earlier in the month I had actually hike up the impressive Uncompahgre Peak so I was excited to see it from the summit of Mt. Antero.  You can read more about my hike at the below link:

As I continued to scan towards the south the view was dominated once again by Mt. Shavano and Tabeguache Peak:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

To the southeast I could the peaks from the Sangre de Cristo Range:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

Here is a closer look at these peaks:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

The rugged peaks of what is known as the Crestone Group which is a cluster of five 14ers in the Sangre de Cristo Range.  Besides the Sangres I could also see the small town of Salida sitting along the Arkansas River down below:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

From Salida the Arkansas River runs north through a stunning valley backdropped by the various 14ers of the Sawatch Range on the west and rugged foothills to the east:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

Also out to the far east in the picture above I could also make out my favorite mountain in Colorado, the 14,115 foot Pikes Peak.  As I continued to scan to the northeast I spotted the 13er, the Buffalo Peaks that are one of the most noticeable mountains when driving from Colorado Springs through the South Park basin:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

Something I found surprising was that in the above photograph I could see the twin 14er summits of Grays and Torreys Peaks rising up in the distance.  It seems like you can see these peaks from just about every 14er in Colorado outside of the San Juan Range.  You can read more about my prior climb up these peaks at the below link:

Some other high peaks that can be seen to the northeast are those of the Mosquito-Ten Mile Range:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

You can read more about peaks I have climbed in this range at the below link:

Here are the panorama pictures I took from the summit.  The first picture is looking towards the north with Mt. Princeton in the center, the Arkansas River Valley on the right and other peaks of the Sawatch Range to the left:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

This next panorama picture is looking towards the west where Mt. Princeton can be seen on the far right, other peaks of the Sawatch Range in the center, and Mt. Shavano and Tabeguache Peak on the far left:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

This next summit panorama is looking to the east where the slopes of Mt. Shavano can be seen on the far right, the Arkansas River Valley in the center, and the slopes of Mt. Princeton on the far left:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

I spent about an hour on the summit talking to the young couple who I found out were from Boulder and were great people to spend time on the summit with.  This just continues the trend I see of people who hike 14ers just being awesome, positive people to be around.  This is just another reason why I enjoy hiking the high mountains in Colorado.

At 10:30AM I said my goodbyes and from the summit I very carefully made my way down the loose rock and back to the rugged ridgeline:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

On my way down I continued to be impressed by beautiful Cronin Peak while at the same time being disheartened by seeing the very long, winding road that I would have to hike down again to reach the treeline:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

When I reached the ridgeline the “Prospectors” cast and their camera team was gone, but I could actually hear them down below.  I crossed the ridgeline and at the parking lot I could see that only one Jeep was parked there now.  I continued to follow the road as it switchbacked down the mountain and I found myself at times doing a jog as I was making great time getting off the mountain:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

As I continued to descend down the peak I could now see clouds moving in and it appeared that a rainstorm was imminent:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

Not wanting to get caught in a thunderstorm above treeline, I hastened my pace down the mountain.  On the way down I once again ran into the camera team who drive these rental Jeeps on the mountain:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

In the above photograph you can see the camera set up on the knoll just above the Jeep.  The cast members were somewhere on the side of Mt. Antero and they were getting film of them from a distance.

Here is a panorama photo I took looking back up the road towards Mt. Antero where the summit can be seen on the center left with the rugged ridgeline visible to the right of the summit:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

Here is also a panorama looking back towards Cronin Peak in the opposite direction:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

As I continued to speed walk down the road something I took more notice of than from when I came up the mountain, was the wildflowers along the road:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

Here is a picture of Cronin Peak with some wildflowers in the foreground:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

Despite it being August there was still quite a few wildflowers that could be seen as well as
the strange looking mountain thistle:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

Something else I saw in abundance on my way down the mountain was a high number of ATVs:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

Judging by the equipment on the ATVs I would estimate half of them were used by amateur prospectors while the other half were tourists.  The sound of ATVs passing me by became a constant feature on my way down the mountain.  After about an hour and a half of hiking I once again reached treeline which was when I could feel a few rain drops falling from the sky:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

Due to the darkness earlier that morning I did not get to see much of the scenery below treeline.  This made the hike down more interesting because this was all new scenery to me which included plenty of more wildflowers to check out:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

I knew I had been hiking in water on the way up and now since it was light out I could see how much water was covering the road:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

I do not know if this road usually becomes a stream every year, but this year Colorado has had a lot of rain so this may be why the road had become a small stream:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

Right next to the road there is fast, flowing creek where the water was just amazingly clear:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

I eventually came to the point where I had to cross this creek using the rocks I put in place earlier in the morning.  It was definitely much easier crossing the creek in the daylight compared to darkness:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

I next came to the Baldwin Creek crossing where the large rocks used by hikers to cross the creek are visible on the right:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

This creek crossing is where two creeks from two different basins empty into to form Baldwin Creek:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

As I mentioned before there is a parking area here along with a trailhead sign where hikers with four-wheel drive vehicles can park.  Additionally there is a road that takes people up the adjacent valley to Baldwin Lake which looks like a pretty good fishing spot:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

It took me 2 hours from the summit of Mt. Antero to reach this creek crossing.  I had three more miles ahead of me back to the 2-wheel drive trailhead.  I was pretty determined to make it back in an hour.  So I continued to speed walk at a pretty good pace down through the lush forest surrounding the road:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

For most of the way down the road Baldwin Creek could be heard roaring down the mountain side to the right of the road:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

It was nice to see all the trees that had seemed so spooky earlier in the morning due to the darkness:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

As I continued down the trail I was surprised to see that someone was nice enough to have found someone’s keys and left them with a note hanging on this sign.  Hopefully whoever lost their keys saw this sign and got them back:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

Something else I saw on the way down was that someone had tried to drive their Subaru Outback up the Baldwin Gulch Road:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

Unlike me where I turned around and went back to the trailhead, they left their car parked on the side of the road.  This picture should be evidence to everyone though that this road should be driven only by people who have true four-wheel drive vehicles.  As I continued down the road I knew I was nearing the trailhead when I began to see homes down below:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

Near the trailhead I was pleasantly surprised to see this nice waterfall that I had completely missed on the hike up the road due to the darkness:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

Finally after three hours of hiking down the mountain I reached the trailhead that was a beehive of activity as people were either loading or unloading ATV’s to go up the trail with:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

Many of the people I at the trailhead I had actually saw earlier in the day on their way up and down the mountain.  They were amateur prospectors who told me that they had a pretty good day finding crystals on the mountain.  They thought I was nuts having walked all the way up the mountain from the two-wheel drive trailhead.  I told them that I have been on longer hikes, but this one was in fact pretty tiring just because of the elevation gain and altitude.  After taking a moment to finish talking to the prospectors I proceeded to walk over to the parking lot where my truck was parked.  As the below picture shows there really wasn’t a whole lot of hikers on the mountain that day judging by the number of cars parked in the lot:

Picture from Mt. Antero, Colorado

Conclusion

Overall I saw a total of 5 other hikers on the mountain that day which was dwarfed by the number of people on ATV’s heading up the mountain.  So if you are someone who does not like the sound of ATV’s you best stay away from this mountain or at least get a really early start like I did to at least avoid them for half the hike.  I really did not mind them and found it interesting talking to the few of the people up on the mountain prospecting.  There is a lot of mountains in Colorado so I have no problems with one of them being used primarily by the ATV crowd as well as the various people prospecting.  It is just good to see people outside enjoying the outdoors even if they thought I was nuts walking all the way up the mountain.

2 Comments

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *