Bison Peak


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Elevation: 12,431'
Trailhead/Trail: Ute Creek
Trailhead elevation: @8,700'
Coordinates: 39.2385°N, 105.4978°W
Round trip distance: 12.2 miles
Quadrangle: McCurdy Mountain
Date: 10/18/2008

When I got to the trailhead at 9 it was a sunny but cold morning with a bit of a breeze. The thermometer in my truck said it was 27°. There was large puddle in the parking lot that was frozen solid. It was cold enough that I put on my fleece pants and gloves in addition to my fleece jacket.

I started by crossing over Tarryall Creek on a solid bridge and then headed east across open terrain on a well maintained and defined trail. It wasn't until I had gone about a half mile that I turned north and followed up Ute Creek. For the first mile and half to two miles there wasn't much elevation gain, but for the next three miles that is all I did, climb, climb, climb. Most of the hike was through a forest of lodgepole pine, but there were times the trail went through either open glades or aspens. It was late enough in the season that most of the aspens had already lost their leaves, but there was some fall foliage still on some of the aspens.

At four miles I got to the junction with the Brookside-McCurdy Trail. From here the summit of Bison is for the first time visible. From the junction I lost a little elevation to drop down into Bison Pass, 11,180'. Then it was back to gaining more elevation. At about 5 miles into the hike and at about 11,900' I broke out above treeline. At this point the trail kind of fizzles out and is only marked by cairns. However at this point I break off the main trail and head cross country for the final mile to reach Bison's summit. The final mile as an easy hike cross landscape that was covered with pink granite towers, minarets, balanced rocks and other fantastic rock formations. It was absolutely beautiful. I wish I could share with you pictures of this beautiful area, but my camera quit working shortly into the hike.

Far to the north Longs Peak could be made out. Nearer, was the snow covered summit of Mount Evans and it's neighboring peaks. To the southeast was Pikes Peak. Off to the west were the snow covered peaks of the Mosquito Range. Nearby were the mountain ranges of the Lost Creek Wilderness - the Tarryall Mountains, the Kenosha Mountains and the Platte River Mountains, which were mostly green of the lodgepole pines, but also there was some lingering yellow of the aspens and large swatchs of gray of the aspens that had already dropped their leaves. And all around were the amazing rock formations that Lost Creek is famous for.

It took me about 3 hours to reach the summit. I stayed up there for about half an hour to enjoy the views and eat lunch. Then it took about 2 hours to return to the trailhead. This was a beautiful hike that I plan on doing again, hopefully with a functioning camera so I can share this beautiful part of Colorado with others that cannot view it in person.