Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Where is Cheyenne Mountain's Summit?

I got this comment from a reader today: We tried to hike to the Cheyenne Mountain Summit on Sunday and it just seemed to be going downhill forever. Did we miss a turn? We had the Pikes Peak Atlas with us and still felt like we were never climbing "up" to the summit.After an hour, we turned back and climbed up and out. It was a beautiful trail even tho we weren't sure if we missed a turn.
Not sure if you missed a turn or not, but Cheyenne Mountain doesn't have a very clear summit. There is, of course, a highpoint toward the southwestern end of the rolling top, but there are also other points that could count, including The Horns in the north (on private property) and Robber's Roost in the Southeast (on soon to be public, but currently private property. You can reach the highest point by going to the gentle ridge just north of the aspen meadows and following it southwest. The real goal, for me, though, are those wonderful aspen meadows hidden on the top. Above is a map that helps explain things. Click it for a larger image.


bill_brown_cmc said...

I take it the contouring route is the McNeil Trail and the climbing switchbacks are the Swisher Trail (?)

Erik said...

And for those of us that don't know, where is the trailhead?

linnie said...

We tried again on Sunday and made it up to the top. The 2+ miles on McNeil to the Swisher trail feels like a lot longer. There is a pile of 3 rocks (hard to miss) showing where to turn right and switch from McNeil to Swisher. Swisher is more of an uphill climb than switchbacks-it is HARD-even worse coming down!.We lost the trail about 4 times coming down. Up at the top is a large meadow which is impossible to see a trail. We just went thru what looked like the way.Went thru some areas of very foul smelling odors.Turned around at that point after seeing bear claw marks on the aspens.It is very desolate up there.Only one other person passed us on the trail and he went further to the end.He said he made it to a rock overlook that he had a view to Pueblo.The aspens up there have not turned yet.

Dena Rosenberry said...

Here's a recent Happy Trails description of the route:

To get there: Drive up Old Stage Road 5.7 miles to a sign for the Broadmoor Stables, just over the crest of a hill. Park in a pull-off on the right, or on the side road to the left.

Trip log: Three boots, 6.5 miles round-trip, 800 feet elevation gain, some route-finding possible.

The hike: The Pikes Peak Atlas, the only map that shows both trails you’ll take, could be helpful. The paths are somewhat faint.

Start by walking to the crest of the hill on the road. On the south side is a pile of gravel. Right behind it, pick up a trail that contours around a hill to the northeast. You’ll see a wider track going uphill. Don’t take this, even if the atlas makes it look like you should.

The contouring trail is the McNeil Trail. It leads to the ruins of the Broadmoor’s lodge on private property on top of Cheyenne Mountain and probably was a leg on the multiday trail rides The Broadmoor used to offer. This gentle trail contours at 8,500 feet along the backside of the mountain for 2.2 miles to a point where it meets the Swisher Trail on a subtle ridge.

The Swisher is easy to miss. If you come across an old pump and engine (the water supply for the lodge) you’ve gone about 50 yards too far. Retrace your steps.

Once on the Swisher, the trail climbs relentlessly. The trail switchbacks southeast to a gentle saddle. It is generally easy to follow until it disappears just as the path crests the ridge on Cheyenne Mountain.

A few steps ahead is a lush meadow. This is a perfect place for a picnic. As you wander around, keep your eye out for the ruins of an old settlers cabin on the left. Return the way you came.

Details: Stay off private land: the road, antenna farm and eastern half of summit.

Dogs: Welcome

Information: Pike National Forest, 636-1602