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Bald Mountain Via The Colorado Trail - Buena Vista, CO

A Lesser-Traveled Hike In Buena Vista, Colorado - May 6, 2011

Colorado Trail

The Colorado Trail is a 483-mile trail that begins at the mouth of Waterton Canyon (southwest of Denver) and travels to Durango. Its middle section travels through Chaffee County on the eastern slope of the Sawatch Range.

Today I did a hike on the Colorado Trail to the relatively unknown and undervisited Bald Mountain, a small mountain approximately five miles west of Buena Vista and NNE of Mt. Princeton's summit. I'll admit this hike was not the most exciting, nor is Bald Mountain a "must see" kind of place. Then again, I didn't see another soul today, and c'mon, any afternoon in the mountains is time well spent. :)

Directions: I began at the Colorado Trail trailhead on Chaffee County Road 343. That road is sometimes used as a short cut to Cottonwood Lake. At the trailhead, I hiked approximately 1.0 to 1.2 miles and at a crest, turned northeast on the ridge leading to Bald Mountain. I absolutely recommend having a topographical map handy; I'm never without my National Geographic Buena Vista / Collegiate Peaks map.

Buena Vista, Colorado

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Bald Mountain (elevation 9,825 feet) - NNE of Mt. Princeton, west of Buena Vista, CO
Bald Mountain, CO
If you've ever wondered about this mountain, this is your page! Above is a shot of Bald Mountain taken while driving westbound on Chaffee County Road 306 (which eventually leads to Cottonwood Pass). Cell towers stand at the mountain's summit, and it can be accessed via a 4-wheel drive road from Chaffee County Road 345. Three years ago, I hiked on this road to mountain's summit. Photos can be seen here.

Colorado Mountains
Two miles south of Nathrop, here's the grand view of mountains with Mt. Yale as the most eye-catching peak. Bald Mountain looks quite modest from this vantage point.

Colorado Trail Trailhead

Colorado Trail

My Hike

At the trailhead on Chaffee County Road 343.

Colorado Forest Into the forest I hiked. Aside from walking all the way to Durango, a more reasonable day hike on the Colorado Trail is to go along the eastern slope of Mt. Princeton and finish at the Mt. Princeton Hot Springs. I did that hike once - an enjoyable day hike with ups and downs, but no major climbing.
Snow on Colorado Trail

Snow on Colorado Trail

Beautiful snow on the trail. :)
Mt. Yale, CO

Mt. Yale Colorado

The trail ascends, offering scenic views of the Sawatch Range to the west.

TOP: The view of Mt. Yale with Chaffee County Road 306 traveling up the canyon toward Cottonwood Pass.

SECOND: A closer view of Mt. Yale, a popular 14er climb. I've summited the mountain twice, in 2006 and 2008.

Bald Mountain, CO As I stated earlier, it is very wise to have a quality topographical map handy. From the Colorado Trail, there is no signage or spur trail to Bald Mountain. As you'll see on your map, when the trail reaches a crest and turns right, that's where to turn off and walk toward Bald Mountain.

I went through forest for a few tenths of a mile, hiking down a hill and then back up one, but eventually I saw the cell tower and road for Bald Mountain.

Bald Mountain, Colorado

Chaffee County, CO

Bald Mountain - Elevation 9825 Feet

At the summit. I have no idea why so many mountains are named "Bald Mountain." It's so unimaginative. {Insert sarcastic tone here} Oh sure, I get it ... something to do with one of the slopes of the mountain not having trees. Suuuuuuure. It looks bald.

SECOND PHOTO: Probably the best photo on the summit. That's the grand and sweeping view of the upper Arkansas River Valley. Salida and the Sangre De Cristo Mountains are way out there on the right.

Steve Steve It was a windy day with winds coming for the west, and in fact, it seems this little mountain frequently bares the brunt of winds flying through the canyon. I sat behind a small building to take refuge.

Adjacent are two self-portraits. I tried the green "tropical blend" flavored Gatorade and liked it. :)

Turner Peak, CO

Sheep Mountain, CO

Mt. Princeton

More Colorado mountain scenery before retreating the way I came.

FIRST: Turner Peak (13,232')
SECOND: Sheep Mountain (11,933')
THIRD: Mount Princeton (14,197')

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