It’s easy to follow a seasonality in life in Colorado. In the winter, we play in the snow and visit the high glaciers or desert rock climbs. In the summer, we climb the windy plains of Wyoming or alpine granite on Lumpy Ridge. Which is why, I think, that Mark and I have snowshoed the Montgomery Pass trail twice, but had never seen it in the summer until last weekend.
The area surrounding Cameron Pass in northern Colorado is a beautiful little playground. It’s two hours from most civilization in any direction, and sits at the wild northern boundary of Rocky Mountain National Park. But, despite it’s remote and untamed feel, there are a number of beautiful campgrounds and fun well-maintained trails that make it a nice location for families as well.
The Montgomery Pass trail starts as a barely marked and weedy trail just across Hwy 14 from the Zimmerman Lake trailhead. It climbs about 1,000ft in a mile and half, which makes it an aerobic trail, but not one outside the reach of most people. The trail widens to nearly road-width as it climbs up the side of the southern Snowy Range, and passes through old growth lodge-pole pines and fields of wildflowers.
As we hiked on Saturday afternoon, G napped in the backpack and we passed one other group of hikers. It was a family of six or so people, with two kids being tugged up the trail by a very excited dog. We managed a good pace on the way up – about 2.5 miles per hour – and were at the pass pretty quickly. We then climbed up to a small summit just north of the pass, so we could say we stood on top of a peak that day.
We ate some lunch up on top of that little baby-mountain. We let the kiddo run around for a while, took a bunch of pictures and watched grey clouds grow in the eastern sky. The Colorado monsoon has kicked up a bit in recent weeks, so we knew we likely in for storms again that afternoon.
As we packed up, the family we passed on the trail appeared at tree-line and quickly arrived at the sign marking Montgomery Pass. They celebrated and took a bunch of pictures and were heading back down as Mark and I reached them, once again. We complemented the kids on making it all the way to the pass. This family had just hiked up to above 11,000ft on a remote mountain pass, and they acted like it was all just another fun day in the sun.
So, if you’re heading to the Rockies and want a quiet, beautiful spot for adventure, definitely check out the camping and hiking around Cameron Pass. We love having this as our little “backyard.”
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