Late last week we made the trek to the summit of Cinnamon Mountain once again. After four trips to the peak I’ve still not grown weary of it. It sits nestled within Paradise Divide, enveloped by striking Rocky Mountains, blanketed in rich foliage and fragrant native wildflowers. Despite the drought or perhaps because of it the flowers were in full bloom. There were no shortage of lupines, purple aster, columbines, osha, and a vast variety of paintbrushes. You may recognize Cinnamon Mountain from Hiking Mountains at 55+ when we took my mom on her very first peak hike. What a memorable day that was! Cinnamon is actually a perfect introductory peak for beginners or anyone wanting to summit a relatively mild mountain. There’s no real technicalities, no boulders to scale, no dramatic cliff edges with a pretty well-defined, stable trail. Basically, you don’t have to be as sure-footed as an alpine goat to navigate the terrain. The peak is broad and spacious and covered with cinnamon colored rock. So when my friend Olivia mentioned wanting to hike a peak I didn’t hesitate to say YES! And knew right where we would take her.
Olivia on the peak of Cinnamon Mountain, Crested Butte, Colorado.
Several dirt roads lead to the base of Cinnamon Mountain or Paradise Divide. Gothic, Washington Gulch, or Slate River Road are best driven by a comfortable, experienced driver in addition to a 4×4 vehicle with clearance. The trail starts around 11,000ft and the summit reaches 12,293ft making the hike a bit more gradual. The time it takes to make it out and back will largely and almost solely depend upon your pace. We reached the peak within 2.5 hours and that’s with a first timer, a 60+ hiker (although well seasoned), and then there’s me who has to take 1 million photos of a scene I’ve already photographed on several occasions. I’m the real hold up! John and Olivia did great! And of course Alex, the CB native, and the 2 rescue dogs were old pros too. Really it was just me and my camera that slowed down pack.
It is wild to think I was just beginning to hike mountains myself 4 short years ago and have since taken several first timers to peaks in colorful Colorado. Not that any of those numbers matter but they definitely put things into perspective for me. I’ve always loved and appreciated the outdoors but the outdoors in Colorado were incredibly overwhelming at first and everyone seemed to know so much about the landscape, the geography, the gear, all of it. What I knew of nature was pretty suburbanized and tame in comparison to what I was learning about the backcountry. And it’s a huge honor to share what I’ve learned with others and to watch someone develop confidence through understanding. Little compares to witnessing someone experience the reward of their own hard work and natures bounty from peak altitude.
We were off the summit before the afternoon storms rolled in and with enough time to spare we went out of our way to stop by a couple of waterfalls. Why not right?! They were uncommonly crowdless but just as picturesque as ever. We all had to feel the cool, emerald tinted mountain water for ourselves but only Alex jumped in giving the rest of us a series case of FOMO. So we will definitely be going back to redeem ourselves in the near future.
If you find yourself in the mountains this summer please be safe! Take the time to familiarize yourself with your surroundings, hire or find an experienced guide to take you into the backcountry, and always take appropriate preparations before any trek. This landscape is absolutely beautiful but can also be incredibly disorienting when one is unfamiliar or unprepared. And please use mountain manners in addition to practicing leave no trace tactics. Find out more here.
Have you hiked a mountain before? Is hiking your thing? Yes/No tell me below!
Thank you all for joining me here and until next time,
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