Saturday, August 24, 2013

Kenosha Peak via Ben Tyler

Kenosha Peak via Ben Tyler

I was looking for a nice tempoish run to do with a little altitude gain the other morning, and checking an old map it seemed like the Ben Tyler trail might work. I'd never been on it, but had driven by many times (like most people), so I thought I'd give it a try. Despite feeling a tad sluggish and having a small niggle in the bottom of my right foot, Tara and I headed out bright and early. The Ben Tyler trail is located 6.5 miles west of Bailey off of 285 - there is a small pullout next to the highway on the south side - and climbs up the Ben Tyler gulch into the Lost Creek Wilderness. On a map, it doesn't look too bad, as the trail basically follows the small stream up the gulch for several miles until hitting treeline. However, after about the first mile, I knew my tempo run was going to quickly turn into a hill run with maybe a peak bag or two.

After a couple switchbacks right off the bat, the trail heads back east as you skirt around a bunch of private property before dropping into Ben Tyler gulch itself. Once in the gulch, the trail climbs for a straight 4 miles through a very dense aspen forest (this trail must be spectacular in the fall) until hitting some more switchbacks as the aspen forest recedes and you near treeline. There is a junction here with the Craig Park trail, which heads up and over a small saddle to the southeast. I stayed on the BT trail, climbing a bit more until hitting the wide, alpine tundra area known as Platosha. This is a vast zone at around 11,500' with tundra and willow intermixed. To the north you can clearly see South Twin Cone Peak, Mount Blaine, and North Twin Cone beyond. I thought of cruising over there, but some serious storm clouds were building. So, instead I tagged Foster Benchmark, then crossed Platosha and the willows (not bad really) and ran up Kenosha Peak. Kenosha is more of a blip then anything, but the views to Evans, southwest into South Park, west to the Sawatch, and beyond are spectacular and well worth it. Some light rain started to fall, so I blazed back down into the aspens and back to the car. The trail is a bit rocky, but well worth the run as you most likely will not see anyone, and reaching the top feels like you have entered a vast, desolate zone unlike many other peak areas. A must for this fall to catch the aspens. What I did was 14 miles, 4,000' of gain, and it took me 2:51 car to car. You can extend this by heading over to the Twin Cones for a really long day.

 Looking down what you just climbed - the trail goes up this gulch/canyon which is all aspens
 Looking into South Park...

Back down...
  Later that day...

1 comment:

  1. Cool. Yeah ... I have driven by it countless times ... and it is on the list. Thanks for the prompt via your post. It has made the itch to check it out a little larger.