June 16, 2022
- Grays Peak (14, 270 feet)
- AllTrails route
- 7.2 miles; 2956 feet elevation gain
- Total time: 4 hours 20 minutes
My first time on this popular Front Range peak and it did not disappoint. I feel like it gets a bad rep because it's so busy on summer weekends but during the week it was amazing! It's such a beautifully prominent and recognizable mountain, combined with Torreys Peak, that I knew one day I had to climb it. This was my first solo 14er and a great day, so maybe I am biased. It's been on my list for a while but I was definitely put off by it being a popular hike but the weather looked great so I decided to go for it. I did not add on Torreys Peak, as many do, because I hope to be back for it via the more challenging route of Kelso Ridge later this summer!
I left my house at 3:30am and started hiking at 4:50am. The road to the trailhead was not as bad as I had expected or read about. I drive a 4Runner but I think it's doable in most SUVs, it's just a bit rocky and bumpy. I started in the dark with my headlamp but didn't need the light for long because of the full moon and rising sun. The morning glow was something special yesterday, check out my photo below. The first two miles are very gradual and easy, I averaged 25-minute miles on these. The remaining 1.7 miles to the summit, the incline increases quite significantly with switchbacks for the final stretch. These miles were more like a 50-minute mile pace. It is a rocky trail for these miles and there are still currently a few very deep snow patches. Because I started early the snow was still solid and stable enough for me to not posthole, I bet later in the day it was a slushy mess. I reached the summit in 2 hours and 20 minutes and still hadn't seen another person! I had the summit to myself and spent about 20 minutes up there resting; there was not a breath of wind and the views were stunning!! I glissaded down a remaining snow field and cut off some distance on the descent. The trail was much busier by the time I came down, I probably saw 30 people but surprisingly no dogs. The trailhead was about 75% full when I got back to the car at 9:15am.
Overall, I loved this hike. The views are beautiful and it's a great class one trail with not a lot of driving time. I think this would be a great beginner 14er and I can't wait to go back for Torrey's in the future!