Lion Head (9,740 ft), 12/08/2002
At the Lion Gulch trailhead there were surprisingly only two other cars parked there when we arrived. Started hiking at 10:42. The trail was frequently icy and the air was cold. Fortunately the sun was shining although we didn't see much of it the first 2 miles or so because the trail went west up a drainage with a steep slope on both sides. At 12:00, after about 4 miles, we came to a trail junction with one branch going to the left toward Pierson Park, and the other branch going straight. We took the left branch, going south. After a few tenths of a mile we got to a 4WD road which we followed south. In this area, much of the forest was burned, due to the huge forest fire that swept thru here last July. Some of the forest was completely black and turned to charcoal, some trees were only singed, while some pockets of trees remained untouched by the fire. We followed this road until it began to descend, at which point we left the road going up a ridge in a westerly direction. We followed this ridge until we got to a rocky knob where we had a view of the Lion Gulch trail far below to the north, and an unnamed mountain of height 9,455 feet to the west. We took a few pictures then headed west down to the saddle point between the rocky knob we were on, and the unnamed mountain. From there, we continued heading west leaving the ridge but staying at about the same altitude. We reached the saddle point between the unnamed 9,455 ft mountain and Lion Head (9,740 ft), then headed northwest up toward Lion Head. eventually following along a line of national forest boundary signs. We got to the summit of Lion Head at 14:00. A small cairn marked the summit, and there was a USGS marker nearby, along with a boundary tree with coordinates posted on it. There were really great views of Estes Park, the Mummy Range, Hallet Peak, Flattop Mountain, Sprague Peak, Stones Peak and others. We took some pictures, then began heading down at 14:15 since it was getting late. Stefan and his superb sense of direction got us down the mountain and to the Lion Gulch trail in the shortest distance and time possible, getting to the trail at about 14:39. Soon we stopped at a rock in the sun and had some nuts and water. We returned to the truck at 15:04. This was a wonderful hike, much of it being off the trail. We saw very few people and had great views at the top of Lion Head. We actually took a very roundabout way of getting to the top of Lion Head, since we initially didn't plan on going up there, so it took much longer than it could have to get to the top.