Added by Amy Kesic

Easy access to Denver. Beautiful scenery. Plentiful snow. Start Elevation: 9850. End Elevation: 11,250. Elevation Gain: 1400. Distance: 3 miles (6 miles round trip).

In summer, Stevens Gulch Road, the access point to Grays Peak and Torreys Peak, is typically packed with adventurers intent on summiting a 14er or two. Once the snow comes, this unmaintained road becomes impassible, and the once busy lane transforms into a silent and pristine haven for snowshoers and cross-country/backcountry skiers.

Taking the Bakerville exit off I-70, you’ll see a parking area on the south side of the interstate. You may be tempted to drive up Stevens Gulch Road, but I’ve tried it, and the signs posted that the road is impassible are not lying. Park in the parking lot and start hiking up the road. I think a lot of people pass through these three miles to the trailhead in summer without really looking around them. Indeed, the road is in such a condition to require a driver’s complete attention. Snowshoeing up the road gives you the opportunity to really look around and enjoy Colorado’s winter scene.

With snowcapped peaks in the distance, both north and south, traveling this section on foot is truly breathtaking. To the south you will see majestic Torreys Peak and Kelso Mountain, along with the rocky ridge leading to Grays Peak. To the north are the beautiful 13er peaks of the Arapaho National Forest and Continental Divide. The views are ever changing as you gain altitude.

After about one mile, you’ll come to a fork; keep left (Grays Peak). At about the two mile mark, you’ll see an old abandoned house right next to the road. While I do not recommend going inside due to missing (and probably rotten) floorboards, it’s a fun place to explore and to photograph. At about this point you will be crossing through private property, and there are several charming cabins up until you reach the trailhead.

This being a strenuous three mile climb, I did not go any further on my showshoeing adventure, and this is where most people turn around. The scenery at the trailhead is stunning, and Grays Peak begins to show itself in the distance. It might be a bit windy and cold to stop for long, but if conditions are good, it’s a perfect place to take a break, have a snack, and contemplate how wonderful life is.

(If you are interested in continuing on to climb either Grays or Torreys Peak and ski down, I recommend doing thorough research on conditions and requirements before attempting it. These trips usually require camping overnight, and this article doesn’t cover mountaineering.)

One of my favorite things about this trek is that the scenery on the return trip is just as beautiful as going up. By now you’ve worked up a sweat, so the return trip may feel much colder as your body cools in the winter air. Be sure to be prepared for all kinds of weather, as sudden snow storms and bitter winds are very common in the high country.

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