Cheyenne Mountain, Southwest slopes

23 Oct 2007 - by Patrick Lilly

This one turned out to be easier than expected. Cheyenne Mtn. is covered with a large amount of private land, especially on the north and east sides, so legal access is far from obvious. However, the summit and parts of the mountain are in Pike National Forest, so the peak is actually available to the public. But there is no developed trailhead or trail. At 9,565 ft., Cheyenne Mtn. is not a lofty summit. It ranks 2560th in elevation in Colorado. But, as its visibility from the Colorado Springs area attests, it boasts prominence, ranking 322nd in this category. This, plus its proximity, makes it worth climbing. The intersection of dirt roads where I started (the "trailhead") is about 5.4 miles beyond the point where the pavement ends on Old Stage Road (FS 368), as it heads west out of the Broadmoor residential area on the eastern slopes of Cheyenne Mountain. The left-hand turn-off onto FS 369 is well marked, and just over the crest of a small hill on the road. That hill is where the road crosses over a major ridge of the mountain, running down from the east. There is a wide spot in the road on the westbound side, just across from FS 369, which is useable for parking. I started right at the crest of the hill. The route leads first east, straight up a gravelly gully to a ridge crest. The ridge then leads north for a short distance, over a small high point, before dropping to a saddle. Continuing east, I crossed another small high point to a second, smaller saddle. At this point, I picked up the major ridge. Following its rounded crest (generally) through trees and over, or around, a few rocky outcroppings, I reached the point where it joins the north-south oriented summit ridge. This is perhaps an eighth of a mile south of the actual summit, and no more than 150 feet below it. An easy hike over (or around) a couple of small ridge points leads to the true summit, a small group of rocks which sit in a small clearing amid the trees, but don't really poke out visibly from any distance. Peeking through the trees, good views can be had in every direction except north-northeast, along the continuation of the summit ridge. In that direction lie the much more visible ridge points, the "Antenna Farm," and "The Horns." Pikes Peak, completely hidden from the road and for most of the way up, is finally visible from the summit. So are the Spanish Peaks to the south. As of October 2007, there is a pole in the rocks to mark the summit, and a register placed by Mike Garratt. Thanks, Mike! This is an easy hike; no real climbing required. I wore gaiters, as there was some early snow on the ground, but much to shallow for any postholing. It took me only 54 minutes to climb the roughly 1,200 feet to the summit. I found only six entries over the previous two years in the register, which surprised me. I had been prepared for some genuine route finding difficulty. Perhaps for someone new to backcountry hiking, it might have been confusing, but I found it so easy that I was really sorry to have put off claiming this nearby summit (I drove 7.5 miles to the starting point!) for so long.

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