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Hunt Lake - Bald Mountain - Banana Mountain

My Hike Near Boss Lake and Monarch Pass In Southern Chaffee County, CO - July 6, 2009

Bald Mountain (alt. 12,851 feet) and Banana Mountain (alt. 12,323 feet) are two "12er" mountains in the southern Sawatch Mountain Range near Monarch Pass and the Monarch Mountain ski area. The nearest towns are Poncha Springs and Salida to the east. Bald Mountain is situated on the Continental Divide; Banana Mountain is located east of Bald Mountain and adjoined by a ridge. Adjacent photo: The view of Banana Mountain and Bald Mountain in the general vicinity of Boss Lake.

This was a great outdoor adventure! My climb transpired on Monday July 6, and I did not see another person throughout my approximately 5-6 our hike. Only near the very end, as I was walking away from Boss Lake Reservoir, did I see two mountain bikers, but that was it! Oh and secondly, I was especially grateful that the Colorado weather gods did not perform it's very predictable afternoon rain shower. I started my climb very late (8:45 a.m.) and did not return to my car until 3:45 p.m.

How to Get There: I urge you to get a topographical map. If you don't have one, you have no business being up there. Buy it online (Salida, St Elmo, & Shavano Peak, Colorado - Trails Illustrated Map # 130) or pick one up at The Trailhead Outdoor Store in Buena Vista. Now having said that, I walked up the 4-wheel drive road to Boss Lake Reservoir (C.R. 235 - located west of the Monarch Ski Lodge) to Boss Lake Reservoir. I continued on the well-defined trail around the south side of the reservoir to Hunt Lake and to the Continental Divide ridge between Bald Mountain and Clover Mountain. At that point, I summited Bald Mountain, then walked on the ridge to Banana Mountain and finished by continuing toward Syncline Hill and walking downhill in the forest to reach the trail near Boss Lake.

What a day! Enjoy the photos, friends. :)

-Steve
Buena Vista, Colorado

Twitter: @stevegarufi
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Boss Lake Road
The Journey To Bald Mountain

There are two ways to reach Boss Lake Reservoir from Highway 50. The more common way is via the clearly marked trailhead sign across from the Monarch Ski Lodge. I already did that once and wanted to try this other way - C.R. 235 located a few tenths of a mile west of the trailhead on Highway 50.

Hunt Lake, CO Hunt Lake, CO Two photos of Hunt Lake. So pretty!
Bald Mountain, CO Continuing on the trail with Bald Mountain in view.
Bald Mountain, CO I passed a few small pools of water above timberline.
Bald Mountain, CO

Banana Mountain, CO

Near the Continental Divide ridge, the switchbacks began in earnest.

TOP PHOTO: A colorful photo of Bald Mountain.

BOTTOM PHOTO: Looking back toward Hunt Lake (left) and Banana Mountain (right).

Colorado Rocky Mountains

Clover Mountain, CO

TOP: A large patch of snow near the divide. :)

BOTTOM: The view to the north of the Continental Divide. The tall peak on the right is Clover Mountain (alt. 12,935 feet).

Continental Divide At the divide, I was tempted to continue to walk on the Continental Divide Trail, but that goes around Bald Mountain. Walking / grunting up the divide to the summit was what I did.
Bald Mountain, CO
The Summit of Bald Mountain (alt. 12,851 feet)

THE SUMMIT - Ah the summit of Bald Mountain was uhhhhh ... on the lame side. The top has a very large and flat top. The views are not the greatest unless you walk to the edge of the summit. Here's one token photo of the marker and a modest pile of rocks marking the summit point. :)

The Journey To Banana Mountain

The views became much nicer as I walked along the ridge. What an amazing photo! Hunt Lake is on the left, Banana Mountain on the right and much of southern Chaffee County (including Salida, CO) can be seen way out there.

Hunt Lake and Banana Mountain
The mountain views were very nice to say the least. Colorado Rocky Mountains
On the south side of the ridge, I could view the Waterdog Lakes, the Monarch Mountain ski area and the Monarch Pass parking lot. So pretty! Waterdog Lakes, CO
The view of Clover Mountain. Clover Mountain, CO
I zoomed-in on Mt. Aetna (alt. 13,771 feet). Look at the avalanche shoot on that thing! Mt. Aetna, CO
Looking back at Bald Mountain as I continued toward Banana Mountain. Bald Mountain, CO
Things become more exciting and challenging as I walked along the ridge toward Banana Mountain. If I do this over again, I would stay on the ridge and bear the brunt on any steepness. There was some class 3 climbing in some spots up here - nothing to extreme but a definite upgrade from what I had experienced earlier. Banana Mountain, CO
Almost there! Banana Mountain, Colorado
The Summit of Banana Mountain - Alt. 12,323 Feet

One token photo of myself (top) and the grand view looking toward Salida and the Arkansas River Valley way out there. The distinct gray line is State Highway 50.

My many pages in this area:

  • Bike Monarch Pass
  • Bike Poncha Pass
  • Old Monarch Pass
  • Monarch Pass
  • Maysville, CO Schoolhouse
  • Boss Lake Reservoir
  • Waterdog Lakes Trail
  • St. Elmo Ghost Town
  • Autumn Foliage
  • Snow - Driving Over Monarch Pass
  • Mt. Antero
  • Mt. Princeton
  • Bike Salida & Buena Vista
  • "S" Mountain in Salida
  • Steve

    Banana Mountain, CO

    A vivid photo of the old mining area on the side of Monarch Ridge. This area can be seen along side Highway 50.
    I originally intended to summit Syncline Hill (alt. 11,404 feet), but opted to turn at the saddle to rejoin the trail near Boss Lake Reservoir. Steve's Route
    While in the forest, I was enamored with the site of patches of snow. Look at this!

    Snow baby snow! SNOW IN JULY! 88:)

    What do you Texans and Arizonans think about this? :)

    Snow in July

    Snow in July

    One final photo as I scrambled down the forest to reach the trail. It's a great shot of Banana Mountain (left) and Bald Mountain (right). Banana Mountain and Bald Mountain

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