15 Grand Summer Adventures
As the snow melts and the rivers swell in Grand County, our thoughts turn to the simple pleasures of summer... like these...
Difficulty: Moderate – Difficult
Length: 17-mile long trail system
Access Points: Follow US-40 for 9.6 miles from the junction with I-70. Just before US-40 begins climbing toward Berthoud Pass there is a sharp turn with a sign for the Henderson Mine. Turn here and follow this road 1.75 miles to the Henderson Mine. Continue on a dirt road on the right side to a sizable parking area 0.5 miles further. Park. The dirt road continues on to the west towards Jones Pass. Several routes can be taken from here to ascend Vasquez Peak which lies almost directly north.
Description: Vasquez Peak is one of the state's most recent wilderness areas. It is part of 100,000 acres of roadless terrain in the area, which includes the Byers Peak Wilderness, the Fraser Experimental Forest, and the Williams Fork - Ptarmigan Peak roadless area.
Vasquez Peak is very close to the Indian Peaks and Eagles Nest wilderness areas, allowing visitors to enjoy amazing views of both mountain ranges without the ordinary hustle and bustle you have to deal with in other places.
The Vasquez Peak Wilderness area 17-mile long trail system above timberline including seven miles of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail that runs through the area. Due to its high elevation, sudden summer thunderstorms can make exposure to lightning in the Vasquez Mountains a dangerous risk. Plan on hiking early and dropping in elevation into the trees before afternoon storms break.
As the elevation drops, you will enter a forest of Engelmann spruce, subalpine fir, lodgepole pine, and Krummholz, German for "twisted wood," which is the perfect description for these particular trees. In the summer, the Vasquez Peak Wilderness is known for an extensive system of Wildflowers. Take a hike and see Indian Paintbrush, White Bog Orchids, Tall Penstemon and more.
If you are looking to stay overnight, car camping is a possibility along the Jones Pass Road, and backpacking camping spots are found along the Continental Divide Trail.