Escaping The Nutshell
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You can see the GPS tracks for this entire hike.
Parking on the west side of Camp Dick in Peaceful Valley, in the gravel parking area, we headed west at 8:27 on the St Vrain 4WD Road for about 100 yards, then right onto the Buchanan Pass Trail, crossing the bridge over Middle St Vrain Creek.
We followed the Buchanan Pass Trail for 4.14 miles, through conifer forest interspersed with meadow and aspen, to the St Vrain Mountain Trail. This trail intersection is at the boundary of the Indian Peaks Wilderness. Turning right onto the St Vrain Mountain Trail, the ascent gets steep with switchbacks.
At 5.2 miles, where the trail flattens out on a ridge at about 10,800 feet, we caught a glimpse through the trees of the west ridge of St Vrain Mountain. We decided to take a chance and leave the trail, heading up in the direction of the west ridge that we were able to see.
Lucky for us, the going was fairly easy through trackless forest that wasn't too dense, and then through alpine meadow to the top of the ridge at 11,870 ft at 11:33. At this point, the St Vrain summit was a little less than 400 feet higher, which we reached at about 11:55.
At the top it was windy as usual, with clear views in all directions. From the summit, we continued east, then southeast, finally reaching the St Vrain Mtn Trail, which we took back down to where we came.
The entire way from leaving the Buchanan Pass Trail, was very nice forest and meadow. The way back to our trail departure point did have plenty of treefall blocking the trail. Just before returning to the Buchanan Pass Trail, our GPS ran out of batteries which you can see on the altitude plot below.
The total round trip distance was 13.66 miles, and the altitude difference from lowest to highest was (12192-8688) = 3,504 feet.
|Place Name||Elev [ft]||Accuracy [ft]||Position (lat,lon)|
|St Vrain Mtn summit||12,193||16||40.16126,-105.58573|
© 2012-2013 Stefan Hollos and Richard Hollos
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