Palisade Mountain (8,264′) Attempt | Roosevelt National Forest
Drake, CO | 01/27/20| 2.19 miles | 541′ gain
I had a free afternoon for a quick hike with my friend Tori and since weather was supposed to be okay (cloudy but no wind or snow) we opted to try an easy local scramble above Loveland. Palisade Mountain’s rocky cliffs are prominent from the highway on the way to Estes Park as well as from many of the surrounding peaks. Every time I catch a glimpse, I want to climb her more and more.
Palisade isn’t a popular climb and the trail is no longer maintained by the Forest Service so it took a little more research than normal to figure out the basics: where to park, where to walk, and what to expect along the way.
Once I got to Loveland, I could see Palisade Mountain in the distance…with a storm cloud directly over it! What the heck!? I checked the weather again and now it said it was supposed to sprinkle for an hour, but should be cleared up by the time we got there. Perfect!
We parked at a tiny pullout that doubles as a trailhead. We had the entire place to ourselves! And the weather was even cooperating, clouds but no rain. The trail started out nice and easy, with views of the Big Thompson Canyon and nearby Sheep Mountain.
The trail steepened as it turned into the forest and made its way up the back side of Palisade Mountain. We noticed clouds heading our way but hoped they’d pass us by.
Unfortunately, as we continued to climb it started to snow. We stopped for a few minutes, waiting to see if it would let up but it continued to snow harder and harder. We didn’t think the summit scramble would be all that difficult under normal conditions, but it would be made much more difficult by a fresh layer of snow.
We made the hard decision to turn around for safety reasons and it was probably best we did. Oh well, we will be back another day!