After Aspen’s morning swim in Shadow Mountain Lake, we turned our attention to another first adventure. Friday afternoon, we embarked on a hike to the Shadow Mountain Fire Lookout positioned atop of Shadow Mountain. This is a hike that I have been waiting to complete since we first came to Grand Lake a year ago.
After a quick drive to the East Shore trailhead from Base Camp, Stella and I gathered our packs and began the trek to the top of the mountain. From the trailhead, we started with an immediate climb followed by a fairly steep descent down to Shadow Mountain Lake. The trail continues along the lakeshore for about a mile and a half passing underneath an Osprey nest that we see frequently while paddling on Shadow Mountain Lake.
Hiking along a bit further, we happened upon the junction in the trail. The trail, which shares the Continental Divide Trail, continues south along the lake to Shadow Mountain Dam, further onto the Roaring Fork trailhead and beyond. However, we opted for the slight left and began our assent to the top of Shadow Mountain and the Fire Lookout.
The trail begins with a steep trek through a short series of switchbacks. Once through the initial series of switchbacks the trail becomes fairly easy. We passed underneath a rock out cropping that looked as if a mountain lion would take refuge while gazing below for its next meal. One final push through the last series of switchbacks and we had made our destination.
The Fire Lookout tower is the last of four original Fire Lookouts located in Rocky Mountain National Park. The lookout was built in 1932 by the Civilian Conservation Corps wth the three other lookouts located at Twin Sisters Peak, the north fork of the Thompson River and near Longs Peak. The look out was last used in 1978, and unfortunately, you are unable to climb the tower to gain a better view due the dry rot from lack of upkeep.
However the view from the top is magnificent. You are able to look down into Grand Lake through the pines, further north deep into Rock Mountain National Park and the Never Summer Range. Looking south, you are able to see Lake Granby and beyond into the Indian Peaks Range. Just before we began our trek back down the mountain, I looked to the east at Mount Baldy (technically Mount Craig). Mount Baldy tops out at just over 12,000 feet, but there are no trails to the top.
Reversing course, we began our descent. We hiked just over 10 miles gaining 1747 feet of elevation and topping out at 9850 feet, just below the tree line. Total time: 4 hour and 10 minutes including spending time at the Fire Lookout. We would rate this a moderate hike, although the National Park Service rates it as “difficult.”
I would like to thank Stella, my wife, for joining me because she does not like hiking in hot weather. Once back at Base Camp, we enjoyed a protein rich meal consisting of vegan meatballs topped with pesto and fresh mozzarella, accompanied with garden fresh sautéd yellow zucchini. Another great day in the rockies.