Updated: Jul 9, 2020
At 14,278 ft Gray's peak is just the perfect choice to attempt a first 14er
Grays Peak is the tenth-highest summit of the Rocky Mountains Colorado. Also the highest summit of the Front Range and the highest point on the Continental Divide.
This came as a suggestion from a local friend. We stayed the night over at Denver and drove to the trailhead in Idaho Springs next morning, the tribe was ready for their first 14er. This may be the only mountain on which you can boast of making two 14er in a single day. Gray's and Torrey's both 14er peaks are connected with a saddle. Many hikers attempt both of these on the same day. The tribe decided to tackle only the Gray's for this trip.
The trail starts at Stevens Gulch Trailhead off I-70 West when you come in from Denver. The approach road to the trail head is extremely rocky, good idea to have a 4x4 clearance vehicle. Not to bad of a drive, but important to get out early, so there is enough time to make the summit and back. The parking at the trailhead was taken by the really early birds, so we ended up parking about half a mile away on the road. Seeing the number of cars, we realized it sure was a popular route. Starting off at 6 AM from the trail head, it was still a bit chilly with light wind, we got our windbreaker out. The initial part of the trail starts out with a steep incline and great valley views, surrounded by mountains. You can see the two peaks on a clear day at a distance from the trailhead. The entire trail is above the treeline. As we continued to move higher, it was amazing to see the wildflowers on our new found altitude.
The trail was a busy one and narrows to literally single file up at places. We continued the hike taking ample break, given our body was adjusting to the altitude. Hiking poles were useful in the initial part of the ascent, however the trail progressively gets super rocky and navigating with poles is not what I enjoyed the most. It felt much easier to hold the rocks and balance on all fours as and when required. It took us about 4 hours to get to the summit, yes we made it to our first 14er, that makes this one super special😍. There was a sense of pride and accomplishment and of course bragging rights. The views from the summit were phenomenal, unrestricted and pure. Across the saddle were people attempting Torrey's, however we decided to take that on another day. After a short break at the summit, the tribe decided to head back.
Grays Peak comes with a bonus peak Torrey's for those who love a little extra challenge.
To Gray's it was about 8 miles RT and elevation gain of 3,040 ft, if you plan to do Torreys Peak it will add another mile to the total distance and almost 900 ft elevation gain. Downhill on the rocky steep slopes was tricky⚠. We finished uneventful but satisfied, I guess that's how we wanted it to be.
Learning's from the tribe - Find your pace, even if that is a slow one, remember its not a race, the idea is to summit and back safely.