Elevation: 10, 720 ft - 11,709 ft (USGS measurement)
Elevation Gain: 989 ft
Date Hiked: 16 June, 2011
Dogs: Off leash
Bathroom at the trailhead: No, closest is the Starbucks in Evergreen
A small 11er on Squaw Pass Rd near Evergreen, Chief Mountain is short and delightful (e.g. easy) climb up through a stand of sub-alpine firs and the rare Bristlecone Pines to a bare summit with interesting rock formations and jaw dropping views of Mt. Evans. At the top is a small pile of talus (large rocks) that require a scramble to reach the top. The Fir trees, the views, and the talus are all features of a 14er adventure.
The trailhead for Chief Mountain is approximately 12 miles up Squaw Pass Rd out of Evergreen and the parking area is directly next to the ski lift for the Echo Mountain Ski Resort. The parking area is just a broad shoulder on the right hand side of the road that can handle perhaps 8 cars. The trail starts on the opposite side of the road. A small vertical forest service sign and several rock steps are the only visible features that you are in the right spot.
The last few switchbacks wander through these formations and it is difficult not to linger to admire the lichens and flowers. On this trip, the weather was pressing and I did not know if I would have any time on the summit at all, so I pushed on to the final scramble.
Squaw Mountain, which I have only snowshoed, and Evergreen and Evergreen Mountain, which I had just hiked the week before. To the north is Longs Peak and Mount Meeker along with the Indian Peaks.
Looking at the summit talus pile. It is a short 2 minute scramble to the top. The top of Mt. Audubon in contrast is a 0.5 mile scramble.The summit itself contains a lot of nooks and crannies suitable for lounging, and if you don't want to scramble a small plateau just below the talus pile provides similar views without the final effort.
Chief Mountain is going to become an annual hike for me. While higher peaks are still blanketed in snow, Chief Mountain is snow free. It can provide a tundra fix for those pinning away after a long winter. This is a short hike, however, so if you are yearning for more, try tacking on the Pessman Trail up the Mt. Evans Road. This trail will take you through another stand of much older Bristlecones. You will also get views of the place you just visited.