Sleepy “S” -> Elk Ridge Trail -> Meadow View Trail -> Bergen Peak Trail -> Bergen Peak Summit -> Too Long Trail -> Meadow View Trail -> to Elk Ridge Trail -> Sleepy “S”
Starting elevation: 7600 Ft (Approx)
Ending Elevation: 9708 Ft
Trip Length: 10.5 Miles, based on the trail map 12.5 based on my fitbit pedometer. It took us 5 hours to complete.
Trail Uses: Multi-use trail; hikers, bikers & horses
Pets Allowed: Yes on leash, however there is an off leash area at the south-west parking lot
Rating: Moderate ( books & web) Personally-> Difficult due to length
Bathrooms: Yes – At the parking lots
View of our goal from the beginning
I can’t lie, I have been nervous about this hike all week. It is the furthest we have hiked in conjunction with an actual climbing of a mountain, 9.5 miles ( I thought but was wrong). Plus it was the most elevation gain we have done, 2000+. AND it was the highest we have hiked. So needless to say, when we pulled into the parking lot I was a bundle of nerves hoping I had prepared enough to this point.
Ok here is the best part of living in Colorado, it was 88 yesterday and this morning when we left it was 54 degrees. When we got to Evergreen it was 60 degrees and when we left 5 hours later it had only climbed to 70 but we were in tank tops and shorts for the entire hike. I have been watching the weather in Evergreen all week because this peak is high enough that weather is major factor and any chance of a storm could change our hike dramatically. I knew that there was a chance of afternoon storms in the area so we were out the door at 6:55AM and starting on the trail at 8AM. Here is the other thing we have to start doing now that the weather is changing, I made sure my sister had my hike details and texted when we started and when we finished.
This is the weird luck I seem to be having lately, there was a race going on when we got there. This is the third time this has happened to us on a new trail. Today it was on the just the lower trails so we got out of the way pretty quick, but not before we saw these 2 little kids, 10 & 12 maybe, kicking all the adults butts it was awesome! They had to be brother and sister and they looked like they had been running in races for a while, made me wish I had started doing that kind of activity when I was kid but it was all Barbie dolls, bikes and running behind the mosquito spray truck for me in a flat suburb of Chicago.
Ok lets talk trail, we started out from the parking lot on the Sleepy “S” Trail for half a mile:
This part is pretty easy and it is all along the meadow. The best part is seeing our goal of the summit ahead of us. Plus it was such a beautiful morning, if not for the haze from fires in neighboring states, it would have been perfect. We took this to the Elk Ridge trail for another half of mile:
This is where the ascent really starts, it’s not too much but felt like about a 3-5 % incline. We took this to the Meadow view trail and turned south on it for just .2 miles and then hit the Bergen Peak trail.
We already were seeing beautiful vistas at this point
The Bergen Peak trail is the one on the right that looks sort of intimidating with its incline:
It is really nicely covered at this point too, so while we were sweating the shade helped keep us cooler. Plus there was a nice breeze about half way up. One thing I read a lot about was the wind at the summit, so we had long sleeve shirts in our water packs/backpacks if necessary.
Ok, so the Bergen peak trail is a climb and while there are a lot of nice flats on the switchbacks, it was truly a long slow climb. We came about half way through to a lovely picture spot
As we continued on the trail we walked through a part of the trail that is designated as a Division of Wildlife hunting area and has all these signs so you know….Us non-hunters were a little nervous not having any idea if it was a hunting a season, so I am pretty sure this was the fastest part of the trail for us. Pretty quickly we found ourselves out of that area and there was the summit trail looking inviting and yet still more to climb:
So this climb up is marked as a 1 mile spike but I have read other places that is more like 1.5 and I agree with this. There is a scenic outcropping that is north facing but the tree cover makes it hard to get a good picture of the north view of the mountains. We still checked it out and let some bikers get past us. BUt this one picture is worth showing:
Most of the trail to this point had been pretty empty, outside of the race of course, but we saw the most traffic up here. As we made our way to the summit, it was rocky and a lot of trees all around and then suddenly we turned a corner and it was just beautiful. There were so many people up here just taking in the beauty. It was all Mt. Evans, the surrounding mountain ranges and the town of Evergreen down below. I actually changes lenses on my camera to really capture it all. I had hoped it would help get past all the haze, but I don’t think I quite captured the amazing beauty at the top. The next pictures are just of the summit:
Here is where are parked, 2100 feet up and 6 miles of a hiking away.
And then we went down…. So. Far. Down.
We wanted a full loop and in looking at the trail(s) map it was 6 of one, half a dozen of another. So we went down Too Long Trail, which is a nice set of switchbacks but this is where all the bikers were hiding we saw at the top but not on the way up on the Bergen Peak trail. And as a bike hater, I get it, it looks fun and terrifying to me as we hiked down. If I could find a way to get past my irrational fear of a bike to do it, I imagine I would be going weeeeeeeee all the way home…..
It was a tough hike down at this point for me. I was pretty tired and my knees seemed to feel every step of descent but I also felt really good about what we had accomplished. Oh and let’s face it, I had to use the bathroom so bad I wish I had a bike just to get down fast. It took us almost 3 hours to get to the top but only 2ish hours to get down.
At the bottom of Too Long, we hit the Meadow VIew Trail again and then took that a mile south back to the Elk Ridge and then finally Sleepy “S”, which I practically ran it get to the bathroom at the end.
AGAIN, this was a tough hike. I look at it as a stamina builder, because let’s face it 14ners will be really tough even if they don’t have the mileage we did today. Plus at the end of the day I finished which I will always celebrate.
Try this hike if you can and hopefully not on a hazy day like we had, it is why Colorado is so amazing. The majesty of the mountains and the semi-mild climate, makes it paradise for us.