Grizzly Mountain is a Class 2 summit that offers a little more rugged Class 2 work depending on the route taken, located near St. Elmo to the north and the North Fork Reservoir to the south. Unless you do a lot of extra walking, any access to Grizzly requires a 4WD with good ground clearance. Our suggested route comes in from the North Fork Reservoir, using FR240 which in past experience is a slow, rocky tedious seven mile trip. The other main approach would be up Baldwin Gulch, from the road to St. Elmo.
Grizzly Mountain South Ridge Route
Medium Day // Take a Lunch
RT From North Fork Reservoir:
From Poncha Springs and the intersection of US285 and US50, head west approximately 6.6 miles on US 50 to the little town of Maysville and turn north onto County Road 240 which will become FR240. It's easy driving to the Angel of Shavano Campground and the crossing of the Colorado Trail on pavement. Beyond there, the road begins to degrade and ultimately becomes a slow, rocky affair. For the next 1.3 miles, maps show it as passable for passenger vehicles, but don't count on it. Best to just bring the 4WD with better clearance that can handle the rocky surface. It's 4.7 miles from the campground to the old townsite of Shavano and a trail that heads up Cyclone Creek. This could become an exit point for a climb of Grizzly or an alternate route. The USGS map amd FS2016 show an old roadbed/trail that heads up Cyclone Creek here, but the Trails Illustrated and San Isabel NF map do not show it. It has been in disuse long enough that iot's difficult to spot any of it on Google Earth. From the old townsite area of Shavano, it's another 2.25 miles to the North Fork Reservoir Campground, on the east side of the reservoir. This is a very limited facility with only about 8 sites. We are using it for the "trailhead," though the actual start to Grizzly is farther up the road if continuing on to Billings Lake. 4WD can be driven all the way to there. The start for Grizzly we suggest is about 2/3rds of the way up to Billings Lake. Drive or hike from the campground north on the road and begin the climb after crossing an intermittent stream at these coordinates: N 38° 37' 11.27" W 106° 19' 26.82".
There are two national forest campgrounds: The Angel of Shavano and the North Fork Reservoir. Expect both to be full on weekends. Both are fairly small and the Angel of Shavano CG is a favorite launch point for those climbing the 14ers. Between the two campgrounds there are a number of primitive sites just off the road that can be used.
North Fork Reservoir CG ›
N 38° 36' 41.91", W 106° 19' 09.24"
Click thumbnail to view full-size photo + caption
Year Climbed: 1989
We are using the North Fork Campground as the trailhead for Grizzly, so walk (or drive) back to the main road (FS240) and proceed north toward Billings Lake. About 2/3rds of the way there, leave the road at these coordinates which will be just after crossing an intermittent stream/drainage. N 38° 37' 11.27" W 106° 19' 26.82". Head uphill to the NE on tundra slopes using open areas between the sparse trees. Follow the drainage, staying on the north side, towards a saddle SSE of a large plateau area with a marker of 12,831 ft. There's no need to go all the way to the saddle if you don't desire to do so. Basically just gain the large plateau and stroll to the north end where the ridge to Grizzly heads off.
If you choose the right path across the plateau, you can walk on mostly tundra, but once you reach the ridge, the terrain changes. Follow the Class 2 ridge north to the summit of Grizzly. First, you will need to drop to a saddle losing about 250 feet of elevation. From the saddle, it's another mile to the summit of Grizzly with no real difficulties. Though there will be some limited tundra and embedded rock, much of the trip from the saddle will be on medium rubble. The summit offers a nice central view of all the 13ers in this area.
For the return, it's easiest to just go back as you came, but it is possible to head east on the ridge that connects over to the next ridge that leads to Cyclone & Carbonate. The ridge is a little slower and if you complete the gain from the saddle to the north-south running ridge for Cyclone & Carbonate, there will be one short 3rd class scrambling section after the saddle. From that same saddle, you can also exit south down a couloir and drop down into the headwaters of Cyclone Creek. Once down to the creek, pick up the old road/trail that heads south down Cyclone Creek and re-connects with FR240 near the old townsite of Shavano. If you have not left another vehicle (or bike) here, you will have to walk back a couple miles to the North Fork Campground.
Grizzly is also an easy Class 2 climb from the vicinity of Baldwin Lake by taking FR277 up Baldwin Gulch to the trail that leads to Baldwin Lake. We have drawn a couple possible routes on a GE view. The biggest problem will be getting through the willows around the lake.
Links to other information, routes & trip reports for this peak that may be helpful.
Mountain Handbook ›
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