Eagles Peak (9,328)

Eagles Peak is a trail accessed through the Air Force Academy.  It’s a 3.6 mile up and back trial that has an elevation gain of 2100 feet in 1.3 miles.  As I was driving in I got to take a detour through the USAFA housing development (they’re working on the roads) and  I saw a turkey this time in the same place I saw one last time.  He gobbled at me as I took this picture.

The trail begins at the visitors center.  I parked my truck in the lot, crossed the street, and followed the service road past some power lines to the trailhead.  I want to note the beginning of the service road stated “authorized vehicles only” and when I got to the trailhead there were two unauthorized vehicles parked.  Well, I’m assuming the Accord and Subaru weren’t authorized.  Oh well, I got an extra half mile out of my hike and they didn’t, and it let me know there were at least 2 other groups of hikers on the trial.  I passed them both coming down as I was going up relatively early in the trial.  One was a man in his 50s, the other looked like a cadet with her two dogs.

Here’s a picture of the trail.  It looks deceptively short and easy, but look at that elevation gain!

Oh, and the trail also looks easy to follow in this map.  What it doesn’t show is how it follows a waterfall for most of the way, so when you’re looking at the trail thinking “There’s NO WAY the trial goes up that waterfall, it must follow this worn path to the left”, you’d be wrong.  I was.  Right where the ‘17’ is on this trial I ended up hiking up that ridge, only to notice my mistake once I got to the top and it was a dead end at a rock face.  I had to retrace my steps and hike up the waterfall I didn’t think was a trail…

This hike is a steady uphill/up rock climb all the way to the top, except for a small meadow just before the final climb.

And what a climb it is!  Like most trails in the area, it’s not well marked and hard to follow, but at least someone spray painted these blue dots that indicate what general direction you should follow.

As always, the view from the to was amazing!  I love looking west towards Pikes Peak.

I was actually able to find the summit marker this time, which is an anomaly.  Most summits don’t have them in the area at this elevation.

The hike back down was uneventful, if a bit slippery.  Granite is really slippery when wet (remember the waterfall) and also when it’s crumbled up into pebbles.  It is trickier hiking down in many areas than hiking up because it’s easier to slip and fall.  Gravity isn’t on your side. 

In any event, I made it down safely, hopped into my truck, and floored it to work, as I had several texts asking me for help (my team is in Brussels this week and I’ve been working odd hours while they’re overseas).