Electric Pass Peak
Now here's a very easy summit - and it's located in the Elk Mountains! UN13,635, aka: "Electric Pass Peak," has a Top 200 ranking and is no more than a trail hike into the Maroon-Snowmass Wilderness and an outstandingly beautiful and impressive area. While most give this a Class 2 rating, it's really a Class 1 hike and follows trail virtually the entire way. The trailhead is accessible by passenger vehicles. This is a good "family" hike. The only thing that could make it better for families would be fewer miles and a little less elevation gain.
Electric Pass PK Trail Route
Medium Day // Take a Lunch
Cathedral Lake Primitive Sites
10 mi / 3,725'
From the busy traffic circle on the west side of Aspen on SH82 and just east of the airport business center, take the exit for the Castle Creek Road (CR15) and drive a long 11 miles to the townsite of Ashcroft. Continue driving south past Ashcroft and at just under 12 miles from the traffic circle there is a road on the right (west) that leads up to the trailhead. The road is graded gravel but may have some rough spots and potholes. It's a half mile to the TH. Coordinates for this road are: N 39° 02' 29.54" W 106° 48' 13.36". If you come to the Ashcroft Ski Touring Center and the Pine Creek Cookhouse, you've missed the turnoff. It's just a short distance back. The parking at the trailhead is limited. On summer weekends, all available parking will fill up and there will be vehicles parked all along the road leading up to the trailhead. Arrive early.
Some maps indicate a "camping center/campground" at Ashcroft. Whatever is there, it is not a national forest CG. Along the road to the trailhead, there are a couple at-large spots right off the road. There are additional spots if you drive up the Castle Creek Road. You can also find some at-large spots at back north of Ashcroft at the turnoff for Taylor Pass. Otherwise, there are no national forest campgrounds in this valley.
For additional information, follow this link to a White River NF publication on this trail: https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5186764.pdf
Though the mileage to Cathedral Lake sounds minimal, with nearly 2,000 feet of elevation gain, plan on taking more time than you figure. The trail #1984 begins by going up through aspen forest (beautiful in the fall) and contours SW above the Ashcroft Ski Touring area and the Pine Creek Cookhouse to eventually reach the Pine Creek canyon drainage. The trail remains on the north side of the creek all the way up and enters the Maroon-Snowmass Wilderness increasing in steepness. As the terrain opens up, the trail goes through some sets of switchbacks. Then it enters an upper area with more willows than trees. There will be a section that crosses a larger talus field and after that, the trail gains steeply up a set of multiple switchbacks. When the trail tops out above the switchbacks, if you see any trail heading off on the right, it will be heading off for Electric Peak and Pass. Stay left to reach Cathedral Lake. The lake will be about 15 minutes more walking.
As the trail flattens out above the multiple switchbacks there is an area of designated? primitive campsites, but there are numerous camping opportunities elsewhere. Camping on the lake shore is neither allowed nor practical. There is a knoll on the east side of the lake that has some nice spots near these coordinates with a couple less used trails that lead to the area. See coordinates below. Bear cannisters are required for backcountry camping here. Also, White River NF requires a self-register overnight permit to camp here. You can register at the trailhead. No fee is required. Dogs must be kept on leash.
N 39° 01' 45.57", W 106° 50' 23.22"
Open This Approach in a New Window
Click thumbnail to view full-size photo + caption
Year Climbed: 1991
For Electric Pass Peak, use the same trailhead and approach as for Cathedral Peak. While you can access the trail to Electric Pass from Cathedral Lake, you can avoid some extra hiking by locating the Electric Pass trail as it heads off to the right not long after the Cathedral Lake Trail tops out above the set of numerous switchbacks. If you see a trail heading off to the right shortly after cresting, that should be it. In a photo supplied by Eddie Mack from August 2017, there was a clearly posted sign marking the intersection. See also a GE photo posted here.
Once on the correct trail, it's an easy walk-up to the summit. The trail passes through some areas of willows and an area of avalanche damage. There are several switchbacks that help keep the angle of ascent relatively easy. The hike is never steep or difficult. Above treeline, it's very easy going as you approach the summit with impressive views unfolding of Cathedral Peak and looking west, to some of the other Elk 14ers & 13ers.
After a leisurely summit lunch, return as you came, or stop by Cathedral Lake for more amazing scenery. It's also possible to traverse the ridge from Electric Pass Peak over to Cathedral Peak. This is a very rugged traverse that will go at a minimum of Class 3 to Class 4. There is a useful report on Lists of John that can be consulted.
Links to other information, routes & trip reports for this peak that may be helpful.
"Real difficulties can be overcome; it is only the imaginary ones that are unconquerable." --Theodore N. Vail