RT Length: 15 miles
Elevation Gain: 4027’
Steffen was interested in visiting Barr Camp, it felt like it’d been forever since I’d been, I hadn’t been aware of and the weather was perfect, so today seemed like a great day to hike the Barr Trail.
I wasn’t able to find a lot of information on this peak, but looking at the Pikes Peak Atlas it seemed to be just behind Barr Camp. I figured we’d figure it out.
We arrived at the Barr Trail parking lot around 5:30am and were surprised the parking situation has (again) changed. As of today it’s $10 to park in the upper lot. Last time I was here it was $40, but it’s been $5, $10, and $20 in the past. The parking app is gone, and the fee machine is back. This is all good news.
We gathered our gear and were ready to go at 5:45am. The guy who parked next to us unfortunately left the dome light on in his truck, but fortunately (maybe?) he also left his truck unlocked so we were able to shut it off for him. He was planning on summiting Pikes Peak and most likely had a 12 hour day; we didn’t want him to come back to a dead battery. Also, he was getting a late start if he truly intended to summit today. We ended up passing him within 20 minutes and let him know about the situation.
I’m not going to spend a lot of time describing the trail to Barr Camp because it’s an easy class 1 hike the entire way. There are very accurate mile markers every half mile, great signage, and as long as you stay on the trail it’s difficult to get lost, even in winter. As we ascended the first 3 miles we had great views behind us of the city lights. Too bad it’s difficult to get pictures at night.
We passed the cutoff for the incline as the sun started to rise
And as soon as we crossed the creek (which is usually dry in summer) the trail conditions changed.
They went from a bit of ice every once in a while to a frozen river of water that would be perfect for ice skating
This lasted until just after the junction with the experimental forest (turn left/southwest here)
This is where the trenched snow started, and also where I scattered wildflower seeds two years ago in memory of my Granny (yes, the seeds were local to the area)
If it were summer you could walk three people wide without tripping on each other along this trail, but today we walked single file.
Around mile 4 we heard a noise and looked up, confused to see a rather young looking squirrel jumping around in the trees. Shouldn’t he be hibernating? The views of Pikes Peak were (as always) amazing today
I stopped for a second because I saw something curious on the ground: it looked like some sort of pollen (which made no sense: it’s February) but upon closer inspection discovered they were little bugs on top of the snow! I could see them jumping and wondered how in the world they got there?
We made it to the aspen grove just before Barr Camp and I took a picture: I have a picture of this grove in every season except winter, and was excited to add this one to my collection.
From the aspen grove it’s a quick jaunt to Barr Camp
We decided to use the restrooms there and then went inside to inquire about PT 10245’
The caretaker didn’t know what PT 10245’ was, but when we looked at the Pikes Peak Atlas he said they called it “AdAmAn Peak”. (Note, this ended up being a different peak altogether). In the summer there’s a nice trail that will get you within a few dozen yards of the peak, but since it was winter the trail was covered in snow. He said to go up, then down, then up again, and then back down, heading northwest. Then there would be quartz rocks on the ground in an arrow showing us where to go (but those would be covered in snow as well). We couldn’t miss it.
Um, ok. Good thing we’re good with a map and compass! We exited the lodge, put on our microspikes, and were on our way. We took the Barr Trail again a little bit southwest (just to the end of the fence) and turned right (north) towards Elk Park on trail 652.
The caretaker had been correct: the trail was covered in snow, but some of the time we could make out where the trail was. We hadn’t brought our snowshoes, so we were having a time getting snow in our shoes (and pants, etc.). Next time remind me to bring gaiters.
We hiked on this trail for almost exactly half a mile, and we did indeed have a great view of the summit from the trail. I started to worry we wouldn’t be able to summit today: I hadn’t brought any rope and that summit looked like it needed rope!
The trick to this summit is to summit from the west. After half a mile we came to a small saddle and decided to turn right and head for the summit (this is how the caretaker should have described the route to us: follow the trail until you come to the saddle, turn right, and then scramble to the summit). Coincidentally, there were blue dots spray painted on the trees here, a good indication that’s where you should turn
There was no visible trail here, so we just aimed for the summit block (east)
Here’s how we summited:
It was a class 3 scramble and tons of fun! My advice is to initially go left up the rocks, but you summit more near the middle of the rocks. The summit was flatter and larger than I’d anticipated
There were some great views!
I’ve never seen Pikes Peak from this angle before…
There wasn’t a summit register (we looked longer than we should for one)
Time to head down. It’s not as scary as it looks…
We followed our tracks back to Barr Camp, and noticed our tracks were filled with thousands of those little bugs already! Yuck! I went home and researched them and apparently they live under the snow until it’s a nice day out, and then they hang out on top of the snow. They were very, very small. So small I’m thinking we were probably breathing them in and not noticing it. Yes, those little black dots are the bugs.
We made it back to Barr Camp and decided to buy a protein bar and leave a donation (hey, we used their bathrooms). I noticed the stream where I usually filter water was just a trickle
The hike back down was uneventful except for the flight for life helicopter we saw making a beeline for Pikes Peak (it never landed). Actually, the hike was beautiful! I’ve hiked this trail dozens of times and I never get tired of it! We kept our microspikes on the entire way, even though they weren’t necessary most of the time. The trail cleared and opened up around the incline junction
We made it back to my truck a little before 12:45pm, making this a 15 mile hike with 4027’ of elevation gain in 7 hours.
This was a really nice trail with decent elevation gain you don’t notice much because it’s so gradual.