9,708 Feet (Unranked)
Bergen Peak Trail
Meadow View Trailhead, 7,760 Feet
February 16th, 2008
9 Miles Roundtrip
Approximately 2,700 Feet Elevation Gained
Greenhouseguy, KeithK, and Slow Moving Fun Seeker
Bergen Peak was named for Thomas C. Bergen, who came to Colorado in1859 and ran a hotel in what is now Bergen Park. He was a county commissioner and legislator, and was on the committee that petitioned Congress for Colorado’s statehood. Bergen’s namesake mountain is part of the 1100-acre Elk Meadow Park; this Jefferson County Open Space Park has numerous trails for hikers, mountain bikers, and wildlife.
It was bound to be an interesting day. We got stuck in a traffic jam on the Evergreen Parkway while a herd of 50 or 60 elk crossed the road. There was a storm brewing, so we decided to hike Bergen Peak instead of heading up into the Mt. Evans Wilderness Area. I found the trailhead on the second pass; it was on Stage Coach Rd., 1.1 miles off of the Evergreen Parkway.
The Bergen Peak Trailhead
The trailhead is well developed, with restrooms and plenty of parking. It is easily accessible to 2WD vehicles.
Jay (blue) and Keith (orange) preparing to hit the trail
Snowflakes were flying as soon as we hit the trail. The trail was solid Class 1 from bottom to top, and the grade was not too steep. The Colorado Mountain Club rates it as a moderate hike, probably because the trail is too long to be considered easy.
Jay and Keith coming up the trail in the snow
There were some scenic vistas along the route, but visibility was limited due to the snow. The snow was heavy at times, but it was not particularly cold or windy.
Scenic vista along the trail
This trail was all about switchbacks; it seemed like there were dozens of them. The switchbacks made the trail longer, but much less steep.
Keith and Jay preparing to round a switchback
At about 8,700 feet, the trail passed through an open grove of trees for half a mile. The trail was coated with clear ice that was overlain by a few inches of snow; it was dangerously slippery, and I came close to hitting the deck several times.
Icy trail through an open grove
The trail passed through three jurisdictions; it started out in Jefferson County Open Space, passed through Division of Wildlife land, and the summit was Denver Mountain Parks property. Hunting is legal on the CDOW land, but loaded guns are not legal on JCOS or DMP property.
The forest near the summit appeared to be second growth; the area was extensively logged back in the mining era. I saw a small herd of mule deer high on the mountain.
Just before the summit pitch, we reached the junction with the Too Long Trail. This trail offers an opportunity for a loop hike, albeit a long one. The switchbacks on the Bergen Peak Trail were much tighter above the junction.
Junction of the Bergen Peak Trail with the Too Long Trail
We passed through some elk-chewed Aspen trees on the upper part of the trail. We had been hiking for a while, and the snow was starting to accumulate. It was still great hiking weather.
Keith and Jay on the upper part of the trail
The snow on the trail was firmly packed, but I postholed in knee-deep snow when I stepped off of the trail to check out a scenic overlook. After we passed the overlook, the trail wound around from the north side to the south side of the mountain.
Scenic overlook near Bergen Peak’s summit
As we neared the summit, we hiked through some stunted Limber Pines. The high point was a pile of boulders.
Jay and Keith on Bergen Peak’s summit
Greenhouseguy just below the summit
The summit is supposed to offer good views of the Mt. Evans massif, Chief Mountain, Squaw Mountain, and Pikes Peak. We were not able to see any of the surrounding peaks, but gazing into the curtain of snow was interesting in its own way.
View from Bergen Peak’s summit
There was a cell phone antenna on the summit, powered by solar panels on the roof of a storage shed. How well do solar panels work when they are covered with several inches of snow?
Storage shed and solar panels on Bergen Peak’s summit
I wish I could say that our descent was uneventful, but it wasn’t. Jay took a nasty fall and hit the slick trail with a sickening thud. He got up and hiked out under his own power, but he was in considerable pain. He went to the doctor after a couple of days and found out that he had torn cartilage in his ribs. Ouch! I hope that Jay will be able to join us on the trails again soon.
Bergen Peak ranks highly among the best Foothill hikes near the Metro area. The trees offer shelter in inclement weather, the open summit ordinarily offers good views, and the nine-mile trail offers a good workout. I would enjoy this hike in any season.