A generally easy and popular Class 2 hike, mostly on trail when combined with Mount Parnassus. Quick and easy access for Front Range cities.
Bard Peak West Ridge Route
Long Day // Back for Dinner
RT From Herman Gulch/Watrous Gulch TH:
2.2 mi /
Drive west up I-70 from the Denver metro area and approximately 2.9 miles past the Bakerfield exit, turn off the interstate at Exit 218 and park at the Herman Gulch trailhead parking area on the north side of the highway. On weekends, this popular trailhead can be very crowded and a parking spot may come at a premium. Plan on early arrival. The two trails share a common start. Watch for the turnoff to Herman Gulch after about 1500 feet.
No designated camping is close by. You may be able to get away with sleeping in your vehicle in the parking lot if you can tolerate I-70 traffic roaring by all night. There are private residences on a road above the parking lot. If you really need a place to spend the night, drive back to the Bakerfield exit and you can locate a few spots near some designated parking on the south side of the highway.
The other possibility is to backpack into the area around Herman Lake where you may be able to find some good camp spots on the tundra near the lake. Please respect Forest Service rules regarding how close to the lake you may camp.
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Year Climbed: 1988
Use the route description for Mount Parnassus first and hike to the summit of Parnassus. From the summit of Mount Parnassus, walk east along the connecting ridge to Bard Peak. At first, you will lose a little over 500 feet in elevation to the saddle, then regain 600 feet to the summit of Bard. Most of the terrain is over tundra with chiprock, some rubble and talus. To descend, either retrace your steps by way of the Parnassus summit (easiest and least complicated; 2.5 miles RT) or it is also possible to head directly south from the Bard summit to Bakerville Exit on I-70. Further down, you may stumble across a trail that will lead you down, but if you don't find it, this descent will lead to some serious bushwhacking. You should probably only attempt this descent if you have left another vehicle at the Bakerville exit, otherwise, you'll have 3 miles of interstate walking to get back to your vehicle parked at the Herman Gulch TH.
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