Total Time: 8 hrs 48 min
Total Distance: 9.5 miles
Minimum Elevation: 10,308 ft
Maximum Elevation: 13,633 ft
Elevation Gain: 3,325 ft
Difficulty: Mostly road and class I trail hiking until Wheeler Trail splits towards the resort. Then light class II to the summit with a spit more road too.
Date of Hike: September 11, 2010
Some days the weather cooperates perfectly. On this day we had a companion that hadn’t been at altitudes like these for many years. After seeing the multitude of pictures set as the computer screensaver, Michelle was in for the next hike. This was the first time we had taken a not so active person along and I learned a lot. For instance, 9.5 miles is a long haul at 1 MPH. Another thing is new hiking partners need to be strongly encouraged, not suggested, on what appropriate layers are. Yeah it’s 27°F when we start, but that quickly goes away once you start gaining ground. All in all it just turned out to be a bit longer day than anticipated.
The spruce creek trailhead. Simple to get to, 2wd friendly and many hiking options to suit any mood. After walking the 4×4 roads many times, I wouldn’t hesitate to drive my minivan up the Spruce Creek Road to the wide pullout and right fork. It is rough in spots though.
On this day we took off up the first right fork that’s a rough and steep 4×4 road along Crystal Creek. About 800 vertical on the road itself.
Not much to talk about on these road hiking portions. It does make for a nice warm up with plenty of room to stumble around and gather your bearings.
Shortly after passing a gate at the aqueduct, the sign for the Wheeler Trail is where we turned north to start up the far east side of Peak 10.
Once in the basin below Crystal peak the summit of Peak 10 is visible nearly the entire hike. Somewhat disheartening, but the lack of any false summit keeps the goal clear.
There is quite a long trail segment that relentlessly gains elevation and tops out along the east slopes. The obvious cairn and wooden post show where the Wheeler Trail continues on its way to meet up with the Colorado Trail on the Copper Mountain side. This is where we simply stuck to the ridge crest and took the least rocky path possible.
For the most part the rocks were small enough that the dogs didn’t have any problems working through.
From the rocky portion it’s not much more than a half mile to the summit, if that. With a bit of road walking too.
East-ish. Grays/Torreys on the left and Bald ‘A’ on the far right.
The Gore and Copper Mountain below.
As with every hike, the way down feels immensely longer than the trip up. The daytime sun really takes a toll at elevation. Must be the extra UV through the thinner air.
The trailhead is always a pleasant sight!