Taylor Mountain (9134 feet, 2784 meters), Big John Mountain (9093 ft, 2772 meters), Peak 8842, and canyon rims of North St Vrain Creek and Rock Creek, 05/14/2005
From Lyons, we headed up CO 7 then turned right, after Bunce School Road and before Ferncliff, onto Taylor Road (40.1875, 105.4887). We headed up this road about a mile until we saw a national forest sign with a closed gate across the road, and then parked on the side of the road near this gate (40.19323 105.48423, elev 8380 ft, acc 17 feet). The sign at the gate said that the forest road was closed to motor vehicles.
Starting at 10:53 we began hiking up the forest road, and reached a high point on the road, which is the saddle point between Peak 8842 and Taylor Mtn, at 11:13. From here, we left the forest road, turning right (southwest) toward Taylor Mountain. The terrain up to the summit was lightly forested, and pretty easy going for off trail hiking. We reached the summit of Taylor Mtn at 11:42. GPS data for summit of Taylor Mtn: 40.19588 105.46796, elev 9178 ft, acc 15 ft, distance from start 1.53 miles. Marking the summit is a large cairn. The summit is a nice place to sit and relax, but the views aren't great because of the trees.
We didn't linger long before heading east toward Big John Mountain. We hiked down to the saddle at 8827 ft, and then up to Big John Mtn, reaching the summit at 12:17. The summit of Big John Mtn is marked by a USGS marker place there in 1938, but the elevation is not stamped on it. There is also a large cairn near the USGS marker. GPS data on the summit of Big John Mtn: 40.19617 105.45667, elev 9121, acc 15 ft, 2.43 miles from start. We left a summit register here, then hiked a few yards to the southern end of the mountain where there is a nice view, and we had lunch there. From this vantage point there are great views of Mt Meeker, Mt Alice, Isolation Peak, Mt Copeland, St Vrain Mountain, Twin Sisters, and the Ironclads. After lunch we hiked over to the northeast side of Big John Mountain, where the trees give way to a better view of North Sheep Mountain, South Sheep Mountain, the North St Vrain Canyon between them, and Peak 8547 which is connected to North Sheep Mountain by a ridge.
Finally, we headed back down to the saddle point between Taylor and Big John, went around the north side of Taylor Mtn, which still had some snow, descended back down to the forest road, then headed over to the other side of the forest road to Peak 8842. Peak 8842 has such a flat nondistinct forested top that the exact position of the summit is difficult to find, even with a GPS. From 8842 we headed northwest to a rocky knob with better views. From there we headed north to the rim of the North St Vrain Canyon, then followed the rim to the left as the canyon view switches over to the Rock Creek Canyon. We stopped for a bottle of water where there is a spectacular view of the Rock Creek Canyon (40.20562 105.48880, elev 8801 ft, acc 15 ft). From there we headed west to meet the forest road, then followed the road back to the truck, reaching it at 16:47.
Total distance traveled: 7.8 miles.
Elevation difference from lowest point to highest point = 9134 - 8380 = 754 feet (230 meters), with lots of ups and downs.
Total trip time: 5 hours, 34 minutes.