Watch: Bootprints Hiking Guide to Angler Mountain Trail
SILVERTHORNE — The Angler Mountain Trail accessed off of Bald Eagle Road is an ideal hike for several different types of recreators. For a local looking to fit a solid 1-2-hour workout into a packed day; someone who’s getting back into shape and not looking for a higher-level fitness challenge; or a visitor who’s less adjusted to Rocky Mountain hiking and our elevation, this trail offers solid elevation gain and will leave you sweating while providing great westerly views.
When our Summit Daily Dog Ruger and I pulled into the Angler Mountain Trailhead parking lot on Bald Eagle Road on the northern side of Silverthorne, there were three parking spots available in the middle of the day. We saw between 12-15 parties of people on this hike that is somewhat popular but not swamped with folks — even on a Saturday in summer.
For most active Rocky Mountain locals, this is a tame hike that can be ideal for trail running. But for a visitor, the continuous — yet shallow to moderate — elevation gain over the relatively short 2.5 miles could be exactly what you are looking for to get a solid 180-degree view of much of Summit County. From the 9,820-foot top of the Angler Mountain Trail, you can see all the way to Quandary Peak at Summit County’s southern end, which is a decently expansive view.
If someone has recommended a hike up Mount Royal out of Frisco to you, but you don’t want to trudge up highly-worn (and much steeper) grade, give Angler Mountain a try. The trail is maintained by volunteers and is pristine throughout. It’s a perfect kind of experience for a less experienced out-of-towner.
In the beginning portion of your hike, expect some moderate climbing over switchbacks to start. Through the first half of the trail, volunteers have placed signage next to flora to describe the kind of Rocky Mountain wildflowers you are looking at. The wildflowers, though, remain for the totality of the trail. They were especially pretty during this late-June hike.
There is a bench with about 300 feet of elevation gain further up the trail. This is a good first stopping point for most, as the bench is shaded and a great place to hydrate or hydrate your dog, like I did with Ruger. The trail is clearly defined all the way to the top, you’d have to make a silly mistake to lose it.
The one downside of the Angler Mountain Trail is that you will come across a crossing with a paved road about 20 minutes and 400 feet of elevation gain into the climb. This is obviously a mark against Angler if you’re looking for a middle-of-the-woods trail experience — a third of the way into your elevation gain you are right back at civilization.
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Length: 2.5 miles one-way
Total round-trip time: 1-2.5 hours, depending on fitness level
Elevation: Starts at 8,620, gains 1,200 feet to 9,820
Parking: Driving north on Highway 9 in Silverthorne, make a right onto Bald Eagle Drive. Parking lot/trailhead half-mile up on right
Of note: Ideal for sunset hike, trail running, popular among horseback riders, great for wildflower viewing
From the parking lot the total elevation gain to the terminus of the Angler Mountain Trail is around 1,200 feet over 2.5 miles.
That said, through the first half of the hike, I thought this is an ideal trail for dogs considering the canopied shade throughout. On hot days you should be sure to hydrate when you come through an overarching cluster of Aspens that gives way to an open meadow. For the next 10-or-so minutes, as you climb in a rolling fashion to 9,400 feet, the sun will beat down on you. After that, before switchbacking up a hill, there is a side social trail to a trickling creek. Stop down here with your dog to cool down.
The moderate grade continues up from here, great for trail running for someone in better shape. It was as we climbed the final third of the trail’s elevation gain where we noticed four clumps of horse droppings. It’s a reminder that Angler Mountain is a trail popular among recreators on horseback. Always remember to keep your dog leashed in the chance you turn a corner and potentially spook a horse.
The steepest part of the total ascent — during which you never truly lose major elevation that you’ll have to make up for on the way back — will be final few pitches up to the trail’s junction with Ptarmagin Peak Trail No. 69. This is where Ruger and I stopped for the day before heading back down the trail about 50 yards to take in the best overlook of the entire hike.
Considering how hard the trail is to lose, if you bring a headlamp, this hike and sight spot would be perfect place to take in a sunset looking over the rays behind the Gore Range.
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