Escaping The Nutshell

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Button Rock Mtn from Big Elk Road (Larimer Co Rd 47)

From Lyons we headed up highway 36 toward Estes Park, and turned left onto Big Elk Road (Larimer Co Rd 47). We parked just off this road at the last pulloff on the left before the 4WD road intersection to Coulson Gulch. There's room there for several cars, and there was a closed (as of Dec 1) gate at the edge of the parking area, beyond which a forest road began.

You can see the GPS tracks for this entire hike. This track has an error spike shooting off to the northwest from our parking place off Big Elk Road.

At 11:15, we started hiking up the 4WD forest road that was blocked by the gate. This road parallels a small creek, and passes by a couple shooting areas littered with debris. There has been recent forest thinning activity along this road. The road climbs steadily.

Eventually we came to a branch in the 4WD road, where left continues to follow the creek, and right goes in a southeast direction. Taking the right branch we continued for a few minutes until reaching another forest road intersection, and turned left which continued uphill. This forest road we took until the road got less steep and the terrain to the right seemed reasonable enough to leave the road.

Turning right, off the forest road, we began ascending toward the Button Rock Mtn summit. The slope got much steeper, and we had to maneuver around a few rock outcrops before reaching the summit plateau area. Finding the actual summit rock is a bit challenging on this mountain because the summit area is so large and flat, but Stefan eventually got us there. We reached the Button Rock Mtn summit at 12:22 with the GPS odometer at 1.7 miles.

The old summit register placed by Mike Garratt was still there. The last signing was Jan 4, 2013 by Jim Jensen and Janice Stoodfast. Before that was Dec 8, 2012 by Ken Martin and Pete Kassab. We saw our last signing of March 21, 2012. There is no view on this summit, having forgotten our camera in the car anyway.

For the return, we descended northeast of our incoming track to the gulch between Button Rock Mtn and Point 8261. This descent route being on the north side of the mountain had only a light layer of snow, but a strong northwest wind made it quite chilly. We stopped for lunch on the sunny south facing slope of Point 8261 before descending along the forest road to close the loop.

We returned at 14:11, with the odometer at 3.7 miles (surely an underestimate). The elevation change from start to high point was 1,162 feet.

GPS data
Place Name Elev [ft] Accuracy [ft] Position (lat,lon)
Parking off Big Elk Road 7,321 23 40.26214,-105.40368
Button Rock summit 8,483 16 40.25358,-105.38583

© 2012-2013 Stefan Hollos and Richard Hollos

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