Mt Evans Route Guide – A 14er with a Terrible Namesake
Mt. Evans is one of two 14ers with roads to their summit, however that also means it’s relatively easy to climb by foot. It’s named after the man who ordered the Sand Creek Massacre that killed hundreds of native american men, women and children. Despite the dark history, climbing the peak is a refreshing treat, with many options for advanced routes due to the accessibility of the high country. Taking the road almost to the top, and stopping at Summit Lake leaves you in the right place to climb Evans’ West Ridge. Looking for info on this route? Here’s my handy Mt Evans Route Guide.
Mt. Evans Route Guide Fast Facts
Mt Evans Route Guide - West Ridge Route
The Mt Evans route begins only 2,000 feet below the summit. Leave your car at the Summit Lake trailhead, and head North along the shore until you meet a sign marking a trail up Mt. Spalding. Follow a loose trail up through the rocks to the ridge – don’t take the lower trail along the lake to your left.
Head up to the top of the ridge proper to get to a better trail. Climb until you reach the summit of Mt. Spalding (a good launch spot). The large basin you’re leaving was carved thousands of years ago by glaciers that formed at the cliff walls above you. At this point you head on to the Mt Evans route itself.
From Mt. Spalding, you must head south to the saddle below Mt Evan’s West Ridge and Mt. Spalding. Follow a trail marked with cairns, but don’t worry if you leave the trail at times. Aim for the base of the ridge, just beyond this side (which has steep cliffs).
Work your way along the Western Ridge, following the cairns to find the path of least resistance. This can be a long, slow section on the Mt Evans routee, with a bit of elevation gain and loss as you scramble up and down. Take your time and move carefully here. A fall is unlikely, but wouldn’t be good for you.
With a bit of grit, you will soon come across the parking lot full of confused tourists wondering why you bothered hiking up a mountain with a road? Join the short trail from the summit parking lot to reach the summit before heading back for your descent. For an easier day out, come with two vehicles and leave one parked at the top for an easy drive back down. Enjoy your time, and make sure you head back to tree line before the afternoon to avoid summer thunderstorms.
This topographical map of the Mt Evans route is a good thing to keep with you on your hike. I recommend downloading it on your phone to bring with you, along with a backup printed out paper copy in case anything happens to your electronics. A map is critically important to keep with you.
Checking the weather multiple times and from multiple sources should be a regular part of your 14er preparations. Here are several forecast sources for the Mt Evans route.
Hiking & climbing 14ers is an inherently high-risk activity – do so at your own risk, and use the following best practices to help keep yourself safe.
- Research your route and bring a compass & topographic map.
- Check the weather forecast and stay home during inclement weather.
- Bring the Ten Essentials and the knowledge/skill to use them.
- Leave your plans with someone back home along with a detailed itinerary.
- Start early, and end early: Be back at tree line by noon to avoid lightning.
- Bring a buddy on your first ascent, preferably someone experienced.
About the Author: Alex Derr
Alex Derr is a mountaineer and blogger based in Denver Colorado. He is working to climb Colorado’s highest 100 peaks, and the 20 tallest peaks in California. He created The Next Summit to share advice, stories, history & reflections from the Colorado Rockies & Sierra Nevada. When not climbing, he is managing the Communications strategy at Visible Network Labs.