Hiking Trails Colorado: Explosive views on the Lenawee Trail | SummitDaily.com

Hiking Trails Colorado: Explosive views on the Lenawee Trail

A coyote searches for a meal on the slopes of Lenawee Mountain.
Kim Fenske / special to the daily |

Explore important day hike essentials for the Lenawee Trail, a moderate day hike in Summit County

The Lenawee Trail, one of the many local hiking trails Colorado has, offers a glimpse of fall colors as it ascends through groves of young aspen regenerating in the constant upheaval of avalanche flows down the steep slopes of Lenawee Mountain (13,204 feet). About 1.5 miles up the trail at 11,500 feet of elevation, near tree-line, the Lenawee Trail offers expansive views of the area. From the upper trail, Dillon Reservoir of the Gore Range and the Ten-Mile Range lie in the distance west of the Snake River Valley. The ridgeline of Lenawee Mountain from 12,550 feet to 13,200 feet overlooks Arapahoe Basin Ski Area and Loveland Pass on the Continental Divide.

Immediately west of Lenawee Mountain is the ridge of Porcupine Peak (11,803 feet) that forms the wall of Montezuma Bowl. Grizzly Peak (13,427 feet) forms the north portion of the East Wall beyond the Lenawee Mountain chutes at Arapahoe Basin. Directly north of Lenawee Mountain, Highway 6 ascends on sharp switchbacks to Loveland Pass (11,980 feet). East of Lenawee Mountain, and out-of-sight unless you climb to the summit, are the 14er twins Grays Peak (14,267 feet), the southern mountain, and Torreys Peak (14,270 feet), across the saddle to the north.

The Lenawee Trail is a challenging five-hour intermediate hike of 8 miles. The trail has an elevation gain of 2,200 feet from the trailhead at 10,370 feet to Lenawee Mountain ridge at 12,570 feet. Of course, you can split the distance and still enjoy passing through a thicket of young aspen saplings and a rocky overlook 1.5 miles into the hike.

The area is general forest lands, open to a variety of recreation. Wildlife is abundant and includes moose, marmot, coyote and mule deer, species you’ll find on many hiking trails Colorado has. The area is great for hiking with dogs and is often frequented by dog walkers, mountain bikers, dispersed campers and hunters during the fall season.

The challenging terrain and dramatic changes in the weather of Summit County should be respected, even during this short Colorado hiking trip. Since a colleague of mine volunteers with the Summit County Search and Rescue group and spends almost every free day of summer on a rescue or recovery mission, I will reiterate the gear that I carry on any day hike.

In cool weather on an intermediate hike through dry forest and tundra that has no natural source of flowing water during most of the year, I carry at least one liter of water. In my pockets, I have adhesive bandages, cell phone, Victorinox knife and a few tissues. In my day pack, I carry a fire starter, two headlamps, extra batteries, fleece, windbreaker, trail snacks such as nuts or cheese, sunglasses, reading glasses and a global positioning system, regardless of how well I know an area or how far I intend to hike. Even on hikes in the center of cities, I have needed to use my headlamp, adhesive bandages and my pocket knife.

How to Get There

The Lenawee Trailhead is about 15 miles from Silverthorne, east of Keystone. From the I-70 interchange in Silverthorne, you will drive east on Highway 6 to Keystone and exit to Montezuma Road. Drive about 5 miles, crossing a bridge over the Snake River, and take a left turn on Peru Creek Road, Forest Service Road 260. Although the gravel road is rough and dips at water diversion berms, low-clearance vehicles can reach the trailhead 2 miles up Peru Creek watershed. The trailhead is clearly marked and small pull-outs offer parking along the south side of Peru Creek Road. The trail ascends the slope north of the road.

The Peru Creek watershed is part of the Argentine mining district, named after the Latin word argentum, meaning silver. Beyond the Lenawee Trailhead, you can explore historic mining ruins of the Argentine mining district on one of the many hiking trails Colorado has in this area. View buildings associated with the Pennsylvania Mine and the degraded route of the failed Argentine Central Railway that was constructed beginning in 1905 to serve mining claims owned by Edward J. Wilcox. The Panic of 1907 brought a recession and the collapse of the silver market, bringing a close to the mining in the Argentine area.

Map: Trails Illustrated, Idaho Springs, Georgetown, Loveland Pass, 104. Latitude 40°, Summit County Colorado Trails.

Author Kim Fenske has written extensively on hiking trails throughout Colorado. His writing includes Greatest Hikes in Central Colorado: Summit and Eagle Counties; and Hiking Colorado: Holy Cross Wilderness, available from Amazon Kindle Books.

Originally published in the September 5, 2015, issue of the Summit Daily and regularly vetted for accuracy.

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