Hike the Decalibron Loop

Leadville, Colorado

4.8/5
based on 4 reviews

Details

Distance

7.5 miles

Elevation Gain

3000 ft

Route Type

Loop

Description

Added by Kyle Frost

Hike Mt Democrat, Mt Cameron, Mt Lincoln and Mt Bross (all 14ers) in a relatively short loop hike. 7.5 miles RTRoughly 3000 ft of elevation gain.

Start your hike at the Kite Lake trailhead, where you can find overnight camping for a small fee, or park a bit down the road for free. The trail starts above treeline, so you'll avoid that usual pesky romp through the forest that so many 14ers begin with.

First, head up past Kite Lake to Democrat's east slope. The trail zigzags up to the saddle between Democrat and Cameron. You'll make a left turn here, at about 13,000ft and climb the rest of the way up Democrat's ridgeline to the summit.

Return the way you came, back down to the saddle, and continue straight on up the west ridge of Cameron. You'll climb quickly and reach the large broad summit of Cameron. It's "technically" not a 14er by some standards, but hey, it's a summit over 14k.

Continue heading northeast off the summit of Cameron on an obvious trail down to the Cameron-Lincoln saddle. You should be able to see most of the trail up to Lincoln from the summit of Cameron. Head up to Lincoln's summit, which is small and rocky, but maybe the most fun of the 4.

Head back the way you came towards Cameron, and take a trail veering to the south at the Cameron-Lincoln saddle towards Bross. Continue on this trail until a junction heads to the left towards the obvious high point. Head on up to the summit of Bross from here.

Head back the way you came and continue on the trail that heads down and west past Bross. The steep trail will cross the ridgeline and then take a steep downturn back to the Kite Lake trailhead.

All in all, an excellent short loop with fantastic views.

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Features

Hiking
Lake
Scenic

Reviews

I love the Decalibron - but please note, it is still CLOSED to public access at this time. The Kite Lake trailhead is open to access public land - but the trails leading to the summits are not open to access. Please help us resecure access for the future by respecting the closure at this time. Thank you! Find updated information on this issue on the US Forest Service page here: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/psicc/recarea/?recid=12505

The last time I summited over 14,000' was when I hiked Mount Whitney in 2007. I live in Park City at an elevation around 6200' and regularly hike in the 9000-10000' range, but as I approach 55 years old, it is difficult to find adventurous hiking partners. I was able to convince a college classmate in Colorado Springs to meet at the Kite Lake Trailhead after work one night (while I would spend the night outside of Grand Junction the prior night) and then we would have Friday to hike the loop. I had only done one winter hike to the top of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park this past Jan (2020) with hiking poles and my friend convinced me to buy my first hiking pole for our adventure and I was glad I had it. There are other words of wisdom that camping at 12,000' having not acclimated prior is not a good idea but neither my friend nor I had any trouble except for the fact that cars started arriving at 3:30am to get to the first summit for sunrise. We decided to stay with our plan and started our hike at 6am, after many of the day's hikers had already started. I happen to have written a children's book about pikas so I was thrilled to hear their little calls all day long as if to cheer us on. When we reached the saddle, it was very, very windy and my friend was not sure if she wanted to continue. I encouraged her to keep going a step at a time and on the way down (before traversing to Cameron) we could decide what to do. The day was perfect and during a huge season of wildfires we were fortunate to have clear, clear skies and just the particularly strong winds at that one saddle point between Democrat and Cameron so once we were heading up the trail to Cameron, we did not have the winds so a fairly easy hike to Cameron and to Lincoln. Along the way it was fun to see people we had seen either behind or head of us. It was busy but not so busy that it was crowded and it seems the number of hikers dwindled as we continued from Lincoln to Bross. On the way down was tricky for both of us - very loose rock and steep. So we were in no hurry and took our time and still managed to finish the four peak loop by 1:30 or so (having started at 6am), but we also took our longest stop (which I wouldn't call a rest) towards the end when we reached the stream and wildflowers. It felt as if nature was rewarding us for our courage with its spectacular beauty. This is a hike not to miss. Just go for it! You will not be disappointed!

Hitting four 14ers in under 8 miles is like a gift from the hiking gods! The summit of Bross is technically private property so proceed there with caution. If you're feeling especially trepidatious, the grassroots Kite Lake Triple mountain race is held over these four summits in September. You can bag 4 summits in 2-3 hours!

Great way to start the climbing season with this loop. Being above 13,000ft for that entire loop is a good way to get acclimated to high altitudes for the summer!

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Nearby

Hike Mounts Democrat, Lincoln, Cameron and Bross

Hike Mt. Democrat

Camp at Kite Lake

Discover Ancient Trees on Windy Ridge

Backcountry Ski at Fremont Pass

Winter Climb of North Star Mountain