Roadtrip to the Rockies: Geneva Mountain

I’m so glad summer has arrived in Colorado.  It was definitely a long winter for the non-skiiers like me who look forward to hiking.  While some trails are still snowed in, Danelle, Mike and I found a fun hike to Geneva Mountain with little snow on AllTrails.

The Trailhead

The hike begins at the Rosalie Trailhead on Guanella Pass just next to the parking for Bierstadt, one of Colorado’s 54 14ers.  We arrived at 7:45am on a Sunday morning and cars were already parked along the road.

As we were lathering on sunscreen, a couple drove up and asked, “What is going on here?”

At first, we were surprised, but quickly realized they were tourists taking a scenic drive.

After explaining that the masses were hiking the popular 14,000 foot mountain, we carried on to the Rosalie Trail which we had to ourselves.  The trail heads south as it passes through the tundra while providing sweeping views of the surrounding mountains.

The Hike

To reach Geneva Mountain, hikers must cross over the directional boundary leading to Rosalie Trail and continue on a narrow road.  It splits twice and it was difficult to decipher which way to go.  Fortunately, we had the AllTrails app which helped as the single cairn at each intersection didn’t provide a direction to follow. 

Trail and road intersection to Geneva Mountain
Take the road

To help other hikers, we moved one cairn to the appropriate path to follow and added a second cairn in another location to indicate the proper track. Eventually the road fades into the first peak, and a scramble over easy terrain is required.

Geneva Mountain Trail

The Peaks

In looking at the topography, we thought it best to skirt the peak rather than climb it, as upon reaching the summit, we were going to have to descend its east side. As such, we weaved through the willows toward the saddle leading to the next peak we had to summit.

We could have passed through the next saddle too, rather than summit, upon continuing to Geneva Mountain, but instead we decided to climb up to the exceptional views. We were so slow to reach the second peak, it was a little bit ridiculous, as we spent a long time exploring.

Exploring

At the same time, however, we had so much fun.  All science brained and aspiring photographers, we inspected bones, debated the countless types of scat littering the trail, and snapped hundreds of photos of flowers, as we wondered if some were the same flower of a different color.

Despite all the scat, the wildlife eluded us.  We did, however, spot a bird’s nest with several brown eggs in the ground beneath a rock which was awesome.  Insects like ants, butterflies, and bees also enjoyed life above treeline at 12,300 feet, though I wonder why they go up so high when it’s unnecessary.  Perhaps they like the solitude too!

If the wildflowers weren’t enough, we also enjoyed a small lake that seemed simply to be snowmelt. I doubt if it will be there in a few weeks. Neither will the few patches of snow that we pretended was knee-deep.

Ultimately, we stopped at the second peak which we named MED peak for our initials among other things.  We could see Geneva Mountain just one saddle away, but we felt like we hiked off trail and explored long enough. With dark clouds looming nearby, we enjoyed a short snack and headed back before the skies unleashed later in the afternoon.

The Descent

Upon our return, we climbed up the first peak which was really worth it.  Jagged rocks and wildflowers capped the top which provided outstanding panoramic views.  Surprisingly, the descent to the road was rather straight forward, and if we had to do it over again, we would have hiked up to the top in the beginning rather than following its edges through the willows.

For us, this was an unusual hike since much of it was off trail.  We felt a little guilty trampling the tundra, but also enjoyed wandering around without feeling like we had to make it to a final destination.

The total distance to Geneva Mountain on AllTrails was 7.7 miles with an elevation gain of 1,217 feet.  We likely shaved a mile off the hike without making it to the third and final peak, Geneva Mountain, but we didn’t feel like we missed much with magnificent views all around.  Only 1.5 hours from Denver, it was a great Sunday outing. ETB

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Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned travel photographer and blogger.

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