Sunday, August 1, 2010

Mountain Trail Running Hassell Peak: Excellent Alpine Single-Track

Mountain Trail Running Hassell Peak: Excellent Alpine Single-Track

The other week Tara and I headed up to run Hassell Peak (13,215 feet). Although one starts out at the overly popular Herman Gulch trail head along I-70, trail running up Hassell Peak is really a remote, quite run that takes you through two beautiful alpine valleys. 

Looking towards the saddle between Woods Creek and Herman Gulch... 

The initial climb is a calf-buster, but after about 1 mile and close to 700 feet of vertical gain, you enter Herman Gulch proper. This is a gorgeous alpine valley with spectacular wildflowers and vistas. Most people that are on this trail are heading towards Herman Lake - a fun run in its own right at ~7 miles - but for this run you don't quite go to the lake. Rather, about .5 miles before you reach the lake, after your final steep climb a junction appears in the trail, with the option to head east over to Woods Creek. Take this junction, head around as you cross over a saddle and then wind your way along the edge of Woods Creek Valley. 

Hassell Peak from the saddle of Woods Creek and the broad southeastern slope... 

Here is where you will lose all people and have the rest of the run to yourself. You will also be able to see your objective from here, as the trail winds it's way around the edge of Woods Creek Valley and onto the broad south slopes of Hassell Peak. 

Tara running the alpine single-track... 

Prepare yourself, because the climb up the broad southern slopes of Hassell Peak is long and steep. Work you way up, eventually reaching the Continental Divide just shy of Hassell's true summit. Make a quick tag of the summit, and then follow your footsteps back to the car. While you are up there, you can also scope out several fun link-ups (Jones Pass to Loveland Pass is the best and easiest). On this day it took us 2 hours and 41 mintues. 

From the top of Hassell Peak... 

The numbers for those who care.... 

Beginning Elevation: ~10,200 feet 
High Point: 13,215 feet 
Total climbing and descending: ~ 6,000 feet 
Mileage: ~10 miles roundtrip from the Herman Gulch trailhead 
Other People Factor: moderate (weekdays) to extreme (weekends) 
Time: 2 - 4 hours depending on how often you stop to enjoy the views...

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