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Eight Hikes on Guanella Pass Scenic Byway

Guanella Pass Scenic Byway

Guanella Pass Scenic Byway stretches 22 miles between Georgetown and Grant and takes about one hour to drive. The road climbs through an evergreen forest and aspen stands before it tops out above treeline offering expansive views of the Rockies. It’s north end is only about one hour from Denver, thus it is easy to reach a variety of hikes from the metro area.

Here are eight choices that rank from easy to difficult on AllTrails:


The Rockies: Another Hike at Abyss Lake Trail, Colorado

I went back to Abyss Lake Trail, number 602, on the way to Guanella Pass. This time, along with Kristin and Justin, I followed the trail all the way up to Abyss Lake as opposed to turning off the trail at the Rosalie Intersection.  We hiked over 14 miles in 6 hours and gained over 2,000 feet.

It wasn’t long before we met our first challenge, one of the early bridges over the creek was washed out. Logs and rocks were scattered across the creek, but none made it all the way across nor did they look stable enough to hold us. We followed the shore of the creek a bit as we contemplated our options, when I suggested that we just take off our shoes and wade. As we were preparing, another couple didn’t think that was such a good idea because the water was cold, and asked if I had ever crossed a creek. Multiple times at Estabrook, I thought.

Yes, the water was ice cold, the creek was wide, and our feet burned immediately, but we made it to the other side! After drying our feet and lacing up our shoes, we went on our way, following the path beneath the aspens that were just beginning to bloom.

The rest of the bridges seemed to be hanging by a thread as the water came up to the bottom from the high runoff. We crisscrossed the creek, passed by the beaver ponds, and slowly turned up the switchbacks, many of which were blocked by fallen trees. As such, occasionally we followed the most used looking trail, crossed a little snow, and sometimes ended up on our own trail until we found our way back to the marked trail with the help of cairns.

We eventually made it above the treeline around 11,000 feet and hiked through the tundra as the wind whipped behind us. Our lunch at the lake, tucked beneath sheer mountain peaks dotted in spring snow, was quick as the body heat we worked up on our climb plummeted while we sat unprotected from the wind.

We didn’t spot any mountain goats or sheep that like the area, but the views at the lake and along the way were lovely. After we had thought we’d reached our final destination, a nearby camped said we sat at an unnamed lake and Abyss Lake was farther.  Oh well, we were ready to return to the car.  It was another great hike in the Colorado Rockies! ETB

The Rockies: Abyss Lake Trail, Colorado

Abyss Lake Trail

Today I drove up toward Guanella Pass to join a Meetup Hiking Group at Abyss Lake Trail, also known as Scott Gomer Trail, to enjoy the Colorado fall colors which a peaking early this year due to the dry weather.  I was already up in the area, and the group was coming from Denver, so I planned on meeting them at the trailhead at 8:45.

I ended up being fifteen minutes late, so with two cars in the parking area, I thought I missed them a jumped on the trail quickly.  I started up the path on the brisk morning and met Karen, a lady from Boulder, who also planned on meeting the group from Denver.  It turns out, we must have been ahead of them, so we hiked together.

Karen was retired from Sun Micro Systems and a strong Democrat.  It was interesting to hear her political views.  In fact, just living in a swing state has been somewhat eye opening with the barrage of political ads…it’s insane.  I saw a state the other day that people over 40 or 50 in Colorado will vote Democrat and people under will vote Republican: opposite of norm.  Hmmm.  Well, my blog isn’t about politics…it’s about travel, and all my travel has been to the mountains before the cold comes…then I’ll go some place else!

The Abyss Lake Trail, Number 602 winds 8 miles through the Mount Evans Wilderness to the Abyss Lake, located high in the mountains between two fourteeners, Mt. Evans and Mt. Bierstadt.  The trail is rated difficult, begins at an elevation of 9,620 feet, and gains 3,030.  The group only planned a 7 mile hike, so I was curious to see where the turn around point was going to be.

Karen and I climbed path upward that followed along the Scott Gomer Creek and that got prettier and prettier as we passed through multiple groves of golden aspen trees.  The aspens lined both sides of trail that was also dotted with yellow leaves that had already fall to the ground.

We crossed the creek three times as Mt. Bierstadt, rock cliffs, and the multi-colored mountainside came into view.  Eventually we reached a large meadow skirted by beaver ponds on one side where we sat to enjoy a quick lunch.  This seemed to be the half-way point where the Abyss Lake Trail crossed the Rosalie Trail, number 603.

Instead of turning around or following the Abyss Lake Trail up multiple switchbacks, we followed the Rosalie Trail toward Guanella Pass until it took us into an expansive open space.  At this time, I turned around, as I had already hiked a few miles farther than I had planned and Karen continued on.  Another beautiful hike, another 4 miles longer and couple hours longer than planned! ETB


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