It’s been almost two weeks since my Deer Mountain hike and since I promised a post about it, I guess I better get on it. Especially since I plan to go on a NEW hike tomorrow!
Deer Mountain is the bumpy peak just off your starboard bow as you enter Rocky Mountain National Park via the Beaver Meadow entrance station. It looks like this as you’re entering the park:
I chose the moderate 6-mile Deer Mountain hike for my every-other-Friday hike at the beginning of April for two reasons: 1) I wanted to go somewhere that I hadn’t been before; and 2) I didn’t think there would be much snow. Turns out there was quite a bit more snow than I anticipated, but I’ll get to that in a minute.
The trail starts out meandering through a sparse ponderosa pine forest and opens up to frequent fabulous views of Longs Peak and other peaks to the south, as well as occasional glimpses of Horseshoe Park and the Mummy Range beyond.
After about a mile, the trail started switchbacking up the pretty much dry south and west sides of the mountain. At approximately the two-mile mark on this particular day, however, snow started to appear more frequently as the trail curved around the north side of the mountain and very soon it was entirely snowpacked and treacherously icy for a good long stretch.
I soon found myself following the tracks of a fellow hiker who had gone before me.
The trail eventually made its way back to the south side of the mountain with its clearer trail.
Shortly after this point, the trail got snowpacked again and started going downhill and I thought maybe I had actually reached the summit without knowing it and was inadvertently heading back down the other side. But another fellow hiker (not the same one who left the tracks above) wandered by and assured me that the summit was yet to come, so I forged ahead.
The spur trail to the top is clearly marked by a sign and it’s just a short but somewhat steep jaunt to the 10,013-ft. summit from there. It’s worth every bit of effort. WHAT A VIEW!!
(Click HERE for a larger view of the above panorama).
The wind kicked up dramatically soon after I reached the summit and the rain that had been forecast for the day appeared to be approaching rapidly from the south. I snapped a bunch of photos, downed a couple handfuls of trail mix and then managed to make it down the mountain before the weather hit.
This was a really worthwhile hike. I’m going to have to do it again in the summer one of these days.