Today’s weather was perfect (63 degrees with no wind), which
made it a total shame I didn’t have time to hike. Emily had a football game at noon, which didn’t
give me adequate time to drive anywhere and be back in time to take her. As I was getting ready for bed last night I got
to thinking, and remembered I’d put together a bunch of training hikes last
year that were close and relatively easy to accomplish in a short amount of
time. I pulled out the folder and browsed
through it. Most were about 7-15 miles
in length, which is great, but I only had about 2-3 hours of “free” time and I
was looking for some elevation gain in the process. The last one I looked at was relatively close
(half an hour away) and said it was 4 miles round trip. The only problem was there was no established
route, so I’d need to make my own trail.
I was in!
I dropped off Emily at noon at the stadium (she’d forgotten
her trumpet at school, so today she’d be cheering with the guard from the
stands). Then I drove to the trailhead (which
wasn’t a trailhead). In case anyone
wants to do this hike, here are the directions:
Take HWY 105 west past Palmer Park to Pine Crest. Turn left onto Lower Glenway, then Left at
the dead end. You need to park here and
walk in because there are at least 2 dozen signs that say “no parking” past
Walk down the dirt road to a gate and cross the gate.
You’ll cross another gate, and this is where the hike
You basically follow service road 322 until you reach the
lower reservoir. I was surprised to find
a bit of ice/snow on the road.
At the lower reservoir there’s a trail that immediately goes
off to the right. This trail does not go
to Sundance Mountain, but it’s the trail you take.
The trail goes steadily up to the right and into the mountains,
following a stream and a steep scree laden path.
From here on out you need to use your GPS, compass, and intuition,
because there’s no established trail. I
hiked for what felt like a mile along a small creek until I came to a ravine to
my right between two mountains. I knew
Sundance Mountain summit was to my right, so I turned right and headed straight
up the mountainside, being careful to keep the ravine to my left. The entire hike is below treeline, so you
really need to remember which direction you came from and which direction you’re
going. Here’s what the area looked like:
I just kept aiming for the top and eventually I found
it! I came across a summit log and noted
the last person to note in it was from last week (11-6-2017).
I signed my name and realized I was on a trail that looked
like a loop back down the mountain, so I decided to follow it and see if it
would lead me back down. I took a few
selfies to prove I’d ‘summmited’.
From the summit of Sundance Mountain you can see a unique
view of Mt Herman here to the left, and Pikes Peak to the right.
So I followed the trail for quite a while, and it was indeed
a trail that had been used previously.
However, about a quarter mile down it became difficult to navigate. Basically it became a gully that was getting increasingly
difficult to pass due to many downed trees blocking the path. I thought to myself how a helmet and
microspikes would have been helpful, and then got smart. The terrain wasn’t getting any easier, and I
was pretty sure I was going to end up in a serious gully at some point. Where I was was basically the end of the ‘trail’. I didn’t have the proper gear, so I turned
back and re-summited Sundance Mountain.
This was great because I got in extra elevation gain!
The route down was much the same as the route up this
way. I had to navigate, but I just kept
the ravine to my right and eventually found the trail I’d used to navigate in. I quickly made it to the reservoir, and saw
about a dozen people there, fishing. I
could see a lot of tiny trout in the water (no more than 6 inches). I never saw anyone on the trail I took to Sundance.
The route down followed the service road again. I thought what a great route this would be to
snowshoe on in the winter, and mentally filed that information away for a few
months from now.
Here’s the route I took:
All in all this was a great hike, and relatively short in
length. I was proud of myself for
completing this hike because last year I’d taken a similar hike (one with no
established trail) and I’d had to turn back because I didn’t feel confident
enough to route find. My information
told me I’d hiked 4 miles, although I’d guess it was probably closer to 3, with
an elevation gain of 800 feet (although I’d easily say it was over 1000 after I’d
turned around and headed back). The hike
only took me an hour and a half. I want
to come back and explore the area further this Spring, as it looks like there
are a lot of trails to take in this area, and it’s close to home.