view from summit of Pennsylvania Mountain

Happy Hiking: Pennsylvania Mountain

  • Pennsylvania Mountain
  • Distance:  4.7 miles
  • Type: Moderate, out-and-back
  • Elevation Gain: 1,341 ft
  • Other: Dogs Allowed
  • All Trails Link

Pennsylvania Mountain is a 13,000 foot mountain located near Fairplay, Colorado.  Access to the trail head is via a well graded dirt road. When I arrived early on a Saturday morning, I was the first car in the cul-de-sac parking area.

The Hike to Pennsylvania Mountain

The trail begins at 11,630, passes through some trees, and soon forks to the left on a narrower path through trees and willows.  It is possible to miss this turn, so keep an eye out.

The path snakes through the willows where a missed turn to the left will provide a nice view, but will also result in being off trail again.  A pine tree somewhat blocks the narrow path, so if the route feels confusing in the willows, err toward the right and use the AllTrails app.

willows on pennsylvania mountain

After this flat portion, the path gradually climbs up the tundra of Pennsylvania Mountain.  Quickly of above treeline, hikers may see in all directions.  As a result, while portions of the trail are not that well marked, it doesn’t matter.  Just keep ascending.

Mining Remnants and Survey Markers

The trail passes many mining remnants.  At first I thought the large holes with rocks piled around were windbreaks, but upon more inspection, I realized these were mining locations.  In addition to these craters, Pennsylvania Mountain is peppered with survey markers.

There were new survey flags marking flowers and trees that had been planted.  There were also numbered washers nailed into its slopes.  I presume these were for mining, though they didn’t look 70+ years old.  In addition, I noticed some rectangular markers.  They were crinkled and looked like gum wrappers.  I actually bent down to pick on up because I thought it was trash! 

I’ve never seen any markers like these on any of my hikes in Colorado.  I’m keen to know if it has to do with a nature/tundra study or mining.

False Summit and Summit

Anyway, the path continues through the tundra and wildflowers to a small talus field before it reaches a false summit marked with a cross.  Hikers enjoy a brief reprieve and wonderful views before tackling the next incline to the summit.

view from false summit on pennsylvania mountain

I was the only one at the summit and spent at least 30 minutes up there snapping panoramas, trying out some lensball photography, and even taking a few videos.  I didn’t see anyone until after I had stuffed my Deuter pack with my leftover snacks and layers and descended off the summit.  What a nice way to enjoy a Saturday morning hike!

Panoramic Video at the summit

While I have climbed many 14ers, I couldn’t name a 13er that I’ve summitted, though I imagine there have been some along the way to lakes or over passes on the Colorado Trail.  Regardless, the 4.7 mile hike on Pennsylvania Mountain might have been one of the easiest.  I wouldn’t have known it was a 13er if I hadn’t read about it.

Though I generally prefer a hike with water, Pennsylvania Mountain host a handful of wildflowers and provided panoramic views of surrounding peaks.  ETB

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Published by

Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned travel photographer and blogger.

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