THE NEW SUMMIT HIKER!
|Come hike Summit County, Colorado's beautiful backcountry!
Alpine wildflowers abound.
Deer and elk browse lush meadows.
Sparkling streams cut through deep green forests.
Mountain lakes ripple with trout.
Come hike (or cross country ski and snowshoe in winter) these scenic mountain trails.
Each trail section has its own topo map and photo illustrations.
Trails are grouped into area categories. Find great hikes and ski tours around
Gold rush history abounds in Summit County's back country.
Explore mine camps, ghost towns and narrow gauge railway sites.
Travel the routes of ancient Ute Indians.
Ski or snowshoe into the secluded back country.
Follow the stagecoach routes over the high passes.
Enjoy a sample trail description from The New Summit Hiker and Ski Touring Guide!
Hike into history surrounded by 1800's mines and gold rush ruins.
Raw granite rock and green pockets painted with wildflowers await hikers.
Find samples of the gray mineral that put early day miners "in a quandary."
Imagine the clanging of ore cars and the shouts of the miners echoing across this high valley.
The Summit Sentinel
"Whether you're looking for a 15-minute stroll or an eight-hour hike, a newly released guidebook to Summit County hiking trails is ready to help you find your ideal path.
"The New Summit Hiker by Mary Ellen Gilliland offers trails into the area's gold rush past, as well as scenic treks through the wilderness."
The Rocky Mountain
The Denver Post The New Summit Hiker ...Mary Ellen Gilliland's guide to hiking trails in Summit County has been updated and expanded with the addition of 11 trails and seven ski tours. Among the most interesting is "Mail Run.' It was the route traveled by Father John Dyer more than a century ago as he traveled through the mining towns near Montezuma to preach and deliver the mail.
Sandra Dallas in The Denver Post,
"The Summit Hiker" (Alpenrose Press, Box 499, Silverthorne, CO 80498) describes 40 historic trails in Summit County which can be covered in anything from a 15-minute walk to an all-day hike. Compiled by Summit County historian Mary Ellen Gilliland, the guide rates hikes by difficulty of terrain, gives time, distance and elevation gain of each trail and includes U.S. Geological Survey maps.
Gilliland tells where to start and describes mileposts to watch for as well as points of interest along the way. She suggests exploring the old mill on the Mohawk Lakes trail, for instance, or watching for famed Methodist minister John Dyer's Warriors Mark mine on the Indiana Creek route or hunting wild mushrooms on Red Buffalo Pass.
This book is laminated and pocket-sized, and has a spiral binding to make it easy to carry on a hike. Moreover, in winter it becomes a guide to cross-country skiing.
Sports Editor Comments
No other book among the eleven that I've written has yielded the joy that The New Summit Hiker has given me. The opportunity to ascend peak after peak in one of America's pristine high country retreats has impressed on me the splendor of creation. Summit County, Colorado is one of our country's loftiest beauty spots. The views of mountain range after mountain range, like white capped waves on the ocean, that one gains from 12,000 feet is unforgettable. Because Summit County starts so high, it's neither a long nor arduous walk to some of these panoramic high passes and peaks.
Another bonus beyond the glorious scenery lies in the mining heritage that the gold rushers left behind here in Summit County. Ghost towns, mineral camps, narrow gauge railway relics, mine tipples, shaft houses and equipment remain to emit echoes of our gold rush past. I admit I am fascinated with this history-in fact I have devoted several books to just that subject. It is a pleasure to share with my readers my knowledge of the prospectors, claim jumpers, shyster lawyers, shady ladies, preachers, schoolmarms and entrepreneurs who paraded across our past.
Trails follow 1860s pack train paths, 1870s stagecoach tracks and 1880s narrow-gauge railway routes. Nature hikes, peak climbs and trails selected for spectacular mountain scenery invite all kinds of walkers, from families with young children to advanced hikers with mountaineering skills, to explore Summit County's exciting high country terrain.
Larry and Mary Ellen Gilliland together walked and skied the guide's trails, carefully compiled driving directions, researched each locale's history and worked closely with the U.S. Forest Service to produce an accurate, up-to-date guidebook specifically for Summit County, Colorado. The New Summit Hiker serves as a companion to Gilliland's lively Summit, A Gold Rush History of Summit County, Colorado.
Mary Ellen Gilliland not only shares information on scenic trails but helps readers to find and understand evidences of the past all around us...Rebecca Waugh, Museum Administrator, Summit Historical Society
Gilliland is well-loved by her readers: The New Summit Hiker is Summit County, Colorado's best-selling book ever, according "Between the Covers," a best-seller list generated by regional bookstores and published in area newspapers. As a historian, she notes every cluster of cabins and mine ruins, telling hikers the rich details of their mineral rush history. Gilliland has become a familiar personality to thousands of visitors and outdoor lovers. She appears frequently on regional TV shows.
A seasoned researcher and punchy writer, she maintains the position of Summit County, Colorado's chief historian, with five books on the 1800s mining mecca. Gilliland is a former New York City magazine editor who has lived in the Colorado mountains since 1969.
The Publisher, Alpenrose Press
Here's A Sample from This Popular Guidebook:
1 BLUE LAKES-MONTE CRISTO
This short hike in an historic area packed with early-day mine relics takes you to the brilliant Blue Lakes, high in mineral-rich Monte Cristo Gulch. A heady 11,748-foot starting altitude puts this entire trail above timberline.
Drive 7.5 miles south on Colorado 9 from Breckenridge's Bell Tower Mall (south end of town) toward Hoosier Pass. Turn right onto Blue Lakes Road (No. 850). At the fork, go straight, traveling 2.2 miles on roadway suitable for the family car. Park just below the dam and cross the walkway above the dam to its north end.
The trail begins north of the dam (right), climbing a very steep slope just yards west of the concrete structure. A slightly easier route exists but is difficult to find: Stand on the dam and look for two large, sandy-brown rock outcroppings above the rubble at the dam's north end. The trail passes in front of the second (or westerly) rock, becoming clear at that point. The track, above the lake's north shore, climbs the southwest shoulder of Quandary Mountain on your right, finally heading along the stream in a northwesterly direction.
Find the trail and wind your way through red-twig willow and alpine meadows for a short 0.7 mile walk to two old mine cabins from the Golden Beaver Mine. One structure has collapsed; a second, with its native rock wall intact, stands in disrepair. A road built in the shard leads to a mine at 12,500 feet. Timbers, barrels and fuel containers mark the area at 1.2 miles, although a rock slide has obliterated the old road here.
Look for dwarf blue columbine, blue alpine harebell (bellflower), yellow stonecrop and rosy queen's crown, all alpine zone flowers found above timberline.
(Another short hike, good for families, begins on the south side of the valley below the lower lake, 1.1 miles into the gulch. Walk this road past the old Arctic and Ling Mines to a roaring falls, using a short trail northwest to the cascade.)
Monte Cristo Gulch abounds with mining history. Miners, who first named the lakes "Quandary Lakes", discovered gold here in the 1860s. The Charlie Ross stood on the saddle between Quandary and Fletcher Mountains. On towering 13,614-foot North Star Mountain, rising at the dam's south end, were the Jack Lode with its own ore mill, the Eldorado, Witch Hazel, O'Reilly Group and the famous Arctic Mine. The Arctic, with its five tunnels, tram and 10-stamp mill penetrated North Star in the cliffs above the lower Blue Lake. Still working as late as 1936, the Arctic ranked as "a big gold producer". Just west of the Arctic stood the Ling Mine. The Senator Mine worked North Star about one-half mile east of the Arctic. As you leave this hiking area look on North Star's curving flank for the old tramway structures clinging to ancient pre-Cambrian rock.
Below the lakes, the valley's richest mine, the Monte Cristo, spreads across Quandary's south slope. R. Widmar, in his 1905 "Blue River Gold Fields and Metal Mines", describes the Monte Cristo's "six or seven foot blanket vein". A blanket ore deposit runs horizontally, sometimes just below grass roots. At the Monte Cristo, a generous Mother Nature had exposed the vein, revealing its zinc, lead, gold, silver, iron and copper riches. In 1904, a modern ore mill built at the Monte Cristo featured a crusher, sizing screens, concentrators and Wilfley shaker tables, impressive machinery installed by the Quandary Mining and Milling Company. An old wagon road leading to the Monte Cristo Mine takes off north just east of the county road's junction with the Wheeler National Recreation Trail. The Monte Cristo mill was across the main road on the south side. Look for the historic Senator Mine's tipsy mine tipple in the lower gulch as well.
Raw exciting views make this quick hike rewarding. High elevation limits the Blue Lakes hiking season. We hiked it three times, all in several inches of snow! Hikers also use this route to cross the saddle on Fletcher Mountain into McCullough and to climb Fletcher.