Parkview Mountain makes for a close, quick day hike out of Granby
July 16, 2009
Looking for a day hike a bit off the beaten path in Grand County? Parkview Mountain on the Grand/Jackson County line is worth a look.
I happened onto it by poring over a U.S. Forest Service map looking for mountains that can be climbed on an easy day trip from Granby.
After hiking up the mountain last weekend, I discovered that at 12,296 feet, it is highest point in the Rabbit Ears Range. It is also home to what is thought to have been one of the highest fire lookouts in the nation until it fell into disuse in 1948.
The summit offers a commanding view of North Park, as the mountain’s name implies. It also affords a wide-angle view of the Neversummer Range, Rocky Mountain National Park and the Indian Peaks to the southeast.
Don’t expect an adrenaline-inducing technical climb. The mountain is gentle from all aspects and is a “walk-up.”
Nevertheless, it is an easily accessible hike that could be combined with a mountain bike approach on the four wheel-drive roads leading back to Highway 125 near Willow Creek Pass. In a concession to time restraints and aging knees, I used a four-wheeler to get to the base of the southwest bowl at what I’m guessing was about 10,700 feet.
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I say I’m guessing, because I didn’t have a topo map and was casual about logistics, though I had filed my itinerary with nearby help in case the unexpected intervened.
The crux of the direct route up the southwest face, which still harbored a few small snowfields, was surviving the vicious mosquitoes. I wasn’t sure I would make it to the summit without a transfusion, and the higher I climbed, the denser the swarms.
Intermittent winds on top provided some relief, but those were some bad bugs – mountain-tough bugs – and even though it was hot, I donned a fleece pullover in the interests of preserving blood.
The old fire lookout on top, built in 1916, was an unexpected bonus. It now sports solar panels and modern electronic gear inside. Remnants of wooden cable supports march in-line into the distance down the verdant west ridge.
It never ceases to amaze me how much material early pioneers managed to pack up these mountains. While the structure may have been built largely from on-site materials, thousands of pounds of concrete hold it all together, and no small amount of wood had to be humped uphill from below.
I hiked to the summit in a direct line through the snow to a prominent green streak of patchy vegetation that led to just east of the summit.
For the sake of variety and to stay in the mosquito-diverting wind as long as possible, I followed the southeast ridge back down and dropped through the trees to my waiting steed, just in time to enjoy a cooling shower.
What the hike lacked in mountaineering drama, it compensated for with a welcome and increasingly rare feature: I had the mountain to myself, even on a beautiful July Saturday.
– Drew can be reached at (970) 887-3334 ext. 19610 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
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