Palisade Mountain (8,264′) | Roosevelt National Forest
Drake, CO | 03/01/20| 2.71 miles | 925′ gain
I wanted to get in a quick hike before the afternoon snow storm rolled in. And what better hike than Palisade Mountain: short, close to home, and it would be a redemption hike. (Read about my first attempt here.) It did cross my mind that the snow might come in early and I wouldn’t be able to finish yet again, but I shoved that thought aside to deal with later.
Ours was the only car at the small trailhead so we set out along the trail, following other footprints through the patchy snow. I spotted a herd of mule deer off the trail but thankfully the dogs were oblivious. The trail starts out pretty flat but soon steepens as it enters the forest.
The trail wraps around Palisade’s western sub-summit and climbs up to the saddle between it and the true summit. Once we reached the saddle, the snow deepened and the footprints faded. Unfortunately I wasn’t expecting this much snow, so I was only wearing trail runners. But the summit was SO close and I didn’t want to turn around again. Stubbornly I ignored my wet feet and tramped around, following an occasional footprint in the snow or dry patch of trail. Sometimes there would be a boulder or outcrop to scramble over but it stayed relatively easy. The snow made route finding a little more difficult, but I did my best to find a way that was doable for all of us.
I kept seeing rock outcroppings and thinking they were the summit, but it was always a little bit farther, a little bit farther. Finally we reached the summit scramble. It didn’t look as bad as I was expecting, and both dogs and I made it up relatively quickly.
At the top of the scramble, the summit is just to the left. There we found panoramic views and a summit register.
Coming back down the scramble section was a lot more difficult. There was one spot that was a pretty big step down and Bob was too scared to jump. I ended up making Otis go first (he had no trouble) and then I half dragged, half lifted Bob down so we could continue on. (If I ever do this hike again, I will leave the dogs at home. As they have gotten older, climbing has become more difficult for them.) It was pretty easy to follow our tracks out after that, and we had an uneventful trip back to the car. Thankfully the snows held off for us so we could summit!