Coffintop Mountain (8,049 ft), 03/15/2003
From our location in southwest Longmont, Coffintop Mountain has a prominent position in the western skyline, being just in front of Mount Meeker. Therefore this was a mountain on our "to do" list for a while. We started at the Button Rock Dam parking area (approx elevation 6000 ft) at about 10:00. For the middle of March, it was an unnaturally warm day, sunny with highs predicted to be around 70. We hiked up the gated road to the start of the Sleepy Lion Trail, then hiked up that trail for about a mile up to the treeless ridge where the trail becomes a dirt road. We left the trail here heading south, soon reaching a sign indicating Boulder County open space, and hiked parallel to a drainage that was on our left. From here it is very difficult to describe how we got up Coffintop Mountain, since there is no single trail that leads up to its summit, nor can you see the top of the mountain from this point. But equipped with a decent topo map and a compass, we headed in a south-southwest direction. We first got a good view of the summit on reaching a ridge top, where we corrected our course, heading in a southeasterly direction until we got to the north ridge of Coffintop. There was less snow on the ground than we expected, there being only thin patches, which allowed us to keep our feet dry for the whole hike. On the north ridge we had no problem heading south up to the summit of Coffintop. We reached the summit at about 12:10. As the view from Longmont suggests, the summit is very large and flat. We traversed the entire length of the summit from the north side to the southern edge. The south side of the summit ends abrubtly at a steep dropoff. We were fortunate that our ascent up the north side was far more gradual. There are at least two knobs on the top that are roughly equal in height, but our topo map showed the actual summit to be the most northern knob. We did not see either a USGS benchmark, or a trail register on the summit. There is a very nice view of Mount Meeker, the Button Rock Reservoir, and the Longmont/Lyons area from the top. We phoned home, took pictures, and had some water & soynuts, then started heading down at about 13:40. On the return, we did not go the way we had arrived, thinking there must be a more direct way. We instead followed the ridge down in a northeasterly direction, then headed north, and finally northwest. Thanks to Stefan's great sense of direction, we eventually made it back to the Sleepy Lion Trail on the ridge top where we had left it hours earlier. We returned to the truck at about 16:05.
I enjoyed this hike very much because of the solitude and the sense of adventure from going somewhere I had never been and finding a place that had no trail leading to it. We did not see anyone else between starting on the Sleepy Lion trail in the morning and returning to it on the way back.