19316 Goddard Ranch Ct.
Morrison, CO 80465
- 3.5 miles
- 3 - 4 hours
- Trailhead Elevation:
- 11650 feet
- Elevation Range:
- 11650 feet to 14060 feet
- Elevation Change:
- 2410 feet
- Summer to Fall
From the parking areas, the trail descends gently toward Scott Gomer Creek. This first part of the trail passes through a prime example of willow carr (a wetland willow thicket), providing prime White-tailed Ptarmigan habitat. Damage to the willow carr by large numbers of peakbaggers winding their way through the willows, trying to keep their feet dry, and the erosion problems higher on the mountain, was what spurred the decision to create a single, sustainable trail to the summit. After much debate over Wilderness values vs. resource damage, it was decided to construct the raised boardwalk, which allows the natural flow of water through the area and the recovery of vegetation along the route. At 11,470 feet, the trail crosses Scott Gomer Creek and begins its ascent toward the summit. From the creek the trail climbs gradually up through the willows, then up onto the broad northwest shoulder. Nearing the summit, the trail grows steeper and less well defined on the rocky ridge. Pick your route to stay on the rocks and avoid the vegetation growing in the pockets in between
Mount Bierstadt was named for Albert Bierstadt, a well-known painter of landscapes of the American west in the latter half of the 1800’s. He named the neighboring 14,000 foot peak for his wife, Rosalie, but it was later renamed Mount Evans in 1870, for Colorado''s second territorial governor, John Evans, and a nearby 13,575 foot summit was named Mount Rosalie. Special protection for the Bierstadt area began 1/11/1956 with the designation of the approximately 5,880 acre Abyss Lake Scenic Area. This was followed by the creation of the 74,400 acre Mount Evans Wilderness under the Colorado Wilderness Act of 12/22/1980.
Because the trail is almost entirely in designated wilderness, Wilderness regulations apply. Of particular importance on this trail are:
Group size is limited to no more than 15 members.
No bicycles are permitted within Wilderness.
Do not shortcut switchbacks.
The alpine tundra cannot withstand repeated trampling by hikers. Once gone, the vegetation will take decades to return, even if the area is closed to further use. A great deal of work has been done in recent years by the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative in partnership with the Forest Service to build a sustainable trail and restore badly eroded areas on the original route.
Dogs must be leashed.
The area around the around Guanella Pass is prime White-tailed Ptarmigan habitat and loose dogs cause disturbance in this and other communities. Also, dogs must be kept leashed to avoid conflicts with the large number of other hikers visiting the peak. It is recommended not to bring dogs at all.
Because this trail is entirely above treeline, you should be alert to the likely development of summer afternoon storms with their accompanying lightening. This trail is rated difficult because of the altitude and elevation gain. Take time to acclimate if coming from low altitude. Be aware that the weather may go rapidly from hot and sunny to cold and snowy, so prepare accordingly. Please respect the sensitive alpine environment and do not step off the trail.