(G & M: #473)
Gladstone Ridge is a Class 2 hike from Jonesy Gulch, which is located along South Cottonwood Creel, west of Buena Vista. Access is on a graded, gravel road that many passenger vehicles can successfully navigate. The hike involves some tree-bashing work followed by a long, steep, tundra ascent.
Gladstone Ridge South Slopes Route
Short Day // A Wee Little Climb
RT From Jonesy Gulch TH:
4 mi /
From the town of Buena Vista, turn west from US285 onto CR306, also known as the Cottonwood Pass Road. Drive 7.7 miles on pavement to an intersection and turn left (south) onto CR344 for Cottonwood Lake. Drive 3.6 miles on graded, gravel road to the east end of the lake where there's a picnic ground. West of the lake, thee's a forest service campground. See details below. From the east end of the lake and the turn off for the picnic area, drive west another 3.35 miles on graded gravel to the Hope Gulch TH. The turnoff can be easy to miss. Continue another .95 mile for the Green Timer Gulch TH, again on the south side of the road. The road drops steeply down and leads to an attractive, at-large camp area. Higher clearance vehicle may be desirable to access this area. A foot-bridge across South Cottonwood Creek begins the trail.
For Jonesy Gulch, drive another .9 mile to where the road crosses the creek coming out of Jonesy Gulch. Park in the vicinity. There is no official trail here. This trailhead accesses Gladstone Ridge to the north of CR344, so you will be hiking north into the dense aspen trees. If using GPS, you may want to "mark" your vehicle.
The Cottonwood Lake CG sits a little beyond the west end of Cottonwood Lake and is forest service maintained. There are 28 sites. Water and vault toilets are available. As with most such campgrounds, they tend to fill completely on summer weekends. This is a first come, first serve campground.
Beyond the campground, (west) there are several at-large, primitive sites including at the trailheads for Hope Gulch and Green Timber as well. Additional sites may be found farther west up the road. Be aware there are private property parcels along this road. There's a good primitive site about a half-mile west past Jonesy Gulch at coordinates provided below.
Cottonwood Lake CG ›
N 38° 46' 58.22", W 106° 17' 24.75"
Elevation 9585 ft.
Primitive Site ›
N 38° 46' 33.63", W 106° 18' 25.87"
Elevation 9690 ft.
Primitive site 2 ›
N 38° 45' 36.30", W 106° 21' 20.55"
Elevation 10590 ft.
Click thumbnail to view full-size photo + caption
Year Climbed: 2013
Upon parking just west of the creek in Jonesy Gulch and beginning the hike to the north, along the west side of the creek, you will immediately find yourself thrashing through undergrowth and a thick aspen forest with tons of downed trees. Keeping the creek in Jonesy Gulch on your right, bushwhack north for a good half hour before things begin to thin out some. The USGS map shows an open gulch coming into the main gulch from the north and east of the creek at about 11,200 ft. Head into that more open gulch as the main creek heads in a more NW direction. Though it is step ascending, it is almost all on very manageable grass. Farther up, you may encounter some large bristlecone pines. These aged trees can make some good photos. From the bristlecones, the remainder of the ascent is best described as “uneventful.” It just continues as a moderately steep ascent on mostly grass and tundra that eventually gives way to more rock. We took a course that went straight north and brought us out on the west ridge of the peak, about a third of a mile from the summit.
Once on the west ridge, it is an easy walk to the broad summit area. Looking south from the restful summit, you can see Green Timer Gulch quite clearly, with UN 12,837 dominating the view and Morgans Gulch prominently appearing to the right of the 12er.
For a route back down, we walked SE down the ridge and then turned abruptly SW, cutting across open, grassy slopes and heading back toward the same gulch we had ascended in. Along the way, we photographed some unusual “crocus” like flowers which were abundant in one area. They are actually Pasque Flowers, or wild crocus and there were an abundance of them in one particular area. There was also another burned out bristlecone forest to photograph before we dropped back into the gulch. Once back into the trees, enjoy the delightful bushwhack to complete your trip. We never found any evidence of any old trail or path by the creek, so we just forged through the fallen trees and underbrush and almost, but not quite to our surprise, came back out on the road at the exact place from which we had left in the morning. If not very proficient at finding your way through forest and downed timber, you may want to use a GPS and "mark" your vehicle to help navigate your way back. Most able-bodied hikers should be able to complete this hike and return before lunch. This summit does not appear to receive much traffic - at least by this route.
Links to other information, routes & trip reports for this peak that may be helpful.
Mountain Handbook ›
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