Rhyolite Mountain – 10,780’


RT Length: .75 miles
Elevation Gain: 473’

I’ll apologize in advance for the fuzzy and cloudy pictures: I’ve had my mirrorless camera since October, and it still confuses me. I’m not sure why these photos aren’t clear, but I think they’re good enough to get the point across. Also, don’t buy a mirrorless camera.

After our failed attempt on Bull Mountain this afternoon and not even being able to attempt to summit Cow Mountain and friends this morning, we were keen on a summit. But it seemed luck was against us! The roads that were present on CalTopo were not where they were supposed to be, and the road we found had private property signs. (Notice the road on the topo map below that goes on the west side of Rhyolite looks doable, but that road doesn’t exist, or at least, the connecting roads don’t line up). We stopped at the sign that said “Keep Out” and parked on the side of the road and looked at our map. We were less than a mile from the summit and decided to skirt the private property as best we could and head up. We noticed there was a “for sale” sign and decided to head up through the property that was for sale instead of hiking through the private property signs.


This hike is quick, and only required us to keep heading west, first through some grass and juniper



And then we came across the road we’d been on previously (but stopped due to the no trespassing signs). We crossed the road, careful not to take it through another set of no trespassing signs.



We kept heading west, this time through trees, being careful to straddle markers indicating boarder lines



After .35 miles we came to a rocky area and climbed straight up


The boulders/rocks here were loose and we were careful not to upset any of them. At the top of this rocky area there was a new microwave tower. So new we could still see the shavings from when they placed it there.


This wasn’t the summit however. We continued west over a boulder filled ridge towards the highpoint.


We found a benchmark along the way


And some printing on rocks we couldn’t read


We left a summit register at the summit


We had great views of Bull Hill (the mountain we’d just attempted) and tried to visually see a way to hike it without traversing on mining property. I think I figured a way out, but will need to do more research. We had a cool view of the back side of Pikes Peak


We headed back down the way we’d came, being careful not to trespass on private property



Here’s a topo map of our route


Since the road had been narrow and I didn’t want to drive through private property I backed my truck all the way down the road and turned around at the bottom. On our drive in we noticed the trails we’d intended to take tomorrow were blocked off by private property/ no trespassing signs and locked gates, so we were going to need another alternate plan. It’s clear Teller County highpoints are going to be frustrating!!! Everything’s on private land!

We drove to where we could find cell service (Victor) to look up alternate routes, and also to see if there was any way we could find routes for the peaks we’d attempted today but couldn’t summit due to blocked gates. We were unable to find alternate routes at this time, and in the end decided to head back to the campsite we’d occupied last night, hoping it would still be available, and instead hike closer to home.
We saw a Teller County Sheriff patrolling the road as we drove through. We headed back through the tunnel


And all the way back to our campsite. Check it out: No one was there! We reclaimed our site and started a fire. Steffen was upset to see the large rock he’d dug out last night was gone (he’d wanted it to put in his garden). I relaxed while we made dinner and set up for tomorrow. I planned on setting out all necessary items tonight and adding another sleeping bag to the bed (I had another one in my truck). I noticed my truck topper was loose (the road had been rough) so we re-tightened it.


I also put together some trip notes from the day: it had been a log day full of disappointments and summits and highs and lows.


We ate Ramen and Elk Sausage and cheese and bacon and went to bed early. Before going to bed we lit the heater for about 5 minutes, until it burned one of the lights and I was worried the fiberglass would start to melt. That made it warm enough to last the whole night however.

We were woken up twice during the night: once at 10:30pm to a couple of kids shining lights into our windows. Of course they couldn’t see inside because I had blackout curtains, but I thought it was dumb of them to try. Both of use were prepared to scare them off if they tried to open any doors/throw any rocks. Stupid kids: we camp with guns. Luckily self defense wasn’t necessary.

The second time was around 2am when someone drove in blaring their music. I guess this is a popular spot? Well, two cars on a Friday night actually isn’t all that bad… and the view is incredible, so I totally understand!

Author: Laura M Clark

Laura has summited over 500 peaks above 13,000' solo, including being the first woman to solo summit all of the Colorado 14ers, as well as the centennials. After each hike, she writes trip reports for each one and publishes them on her blog, which is read by fans all over the world. Author of Wild Wanderer: Summiting Colorado’s 200 Highest Peaks, which is available to purchase on Amazon.

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