Deer Mountain (10,013′) | Rocky Mountain National Park
Estes Park, CO | 12/06/20 | 6.19 miles | 1,397′ gain
If you’ve ever driven into Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) from the main Beaver Meadows entrance station, you’ve certainly seen Deer Mountain. It’s a low, forested peak on the right hand side of the road. If you don’t remember seeing it, your gaze was probably on the soaring, snow capped high peaks to your left. (Don’t worry, I don’t expect you to pay attention to a “hill” when the big boys like 14er Long’s Peak are visible.) But if you ever get back to RMNP and want to climb a mountain (a shorter one) with great views, you might take a second look at Deer Mountain.
Diana and I started from the Deer Mountain Trailhead. This is the shortest and easiest way to climb Deer Mountain. In the summer months, the trailhead can be packed full all along the road, but there were few people around on a December Sunday. The trail stays mostly in the forest as it climbs the west side of the mountain, switchbacking a number of times before reaching the top of the broad ridge.
There are great views all along the climb, ensuring that I always had something beautiful to look at when I stopped to catch my breath. The trail had some snow and ice but it was easily manageable.
Once we reached the top of the switchbacks, the trail flattened out and then descended slightly before curving to the south and heading to the summit. The last bit is pretty steep with a number of stairs, but if you’ve made it this far, the summit views are worth the climb!
We had great weather so we ate our snack on the summit and enjoyed the beautiful view. After our break, we retraced our steps back to the car. Another awesome RMNP hike in the books!