After coming across a review of hiking Ute Peak, it was added to our hiking "list" before the snow fell for the season! My husband and I couldn't believe we'd never talked to any local who had done this one before (maybe because it's not a 14'er 😉 ). We waited for the perfectly clear blue day, as we'd read about the views one is rewarded with at the top! Luckily living in Colorado that's never a long wait. 🙂
To reach the Ute Peak/Pass trailhead, drive north about 13 miles on highway 9 from Silverthorne. Turn right on CR 15 (Ute Pass Road) and it's about 5 miles to the parking lot at the top of the pass. The trail starts on the south side of the road and is clearly marked. Before leaving the Silverthorne area make sure you let someone know you are doing this hike, as cell phone service is very spotty on this hike and we didn't have service on the drive there. It's also not a very busy trail (after seeing the views from the top I have no idea why not!). The day we hiked this in late September we were the only ones on the trail (a rarity in Summit County!).
The hike to Ute Peak is 10 miles roundtrip and that was about 5 1/2 hours for us, with 30 minutes spent at the top. For the first 2 1/2 miles you will be walking through rolling hills... there are some roots and rocks but for the most part it's a fairly easy hike. At the 2 1/2 mile mark you will come to a fork and make sure you go right here. Unlike many other Colorado hikes, this one is spent walking through forest the entire time. Stick with it... the rewards at the summit are worth it! The second half of the ascent is much steeper and you'll be climbing over some fallen trees (this is a heavily hit area of beetle kill). Pace yourself as this portion was much more of a workout!
After emerging from the trees there's a fairly short climb to the top. When you come out of the trees, make sure to mark the trail. It's easy to lose, as once out of the trees the trail becomes harder to see. This mountain doesn't have a definitive peak, but the views are nothing short of spectacular once you are at the top (about 12,300 feet)! To the west we could see miles and miles of the Gore Range - like we'd never seen it before! To the east we could see Longs Peak and Rocky Mountain National Park! After walking on the ridge about 10-15 minutes south, views of Lake Dillon and Copper Mountain also opened up! I highly recommend an app called PeakFinder... we'd never had a view with this many peaks named and spotted! We enjoyed our much earned lunch while soaking up the 360 degree scenery. Having the mountain and views to ourselves, this was a hard one to have to descend. 🙂
Until the next adventure - bon voyage!