Mt. Princeton

Methodist Mountain (Alt. 11,707 Feet) - Salida, Colorado

Photos From My Hike Of Methodist Mountain In Southern Chaffee County - May 24, 2010

Methodist Mountain, CO

Methodist Mountain in Salida is a mountain that doesn't get a lot of respect. Firstly, it is situated near taller peaks in the Sangre De Cristo Mountains and Sawatch Range. Methodist Mountain doesn't have any distinct features, and the summit is covered with trees. Hikers have the boring experience of walking on a rocky dirt road throughout the ascent, similar to Mt. Antero's standard route.

My hike report of this mountain is different from others. For the first time in about five years, I set out to climb a mountain and did not reach the summit. I turned back about 80-90% of the way due to a variety of reasons that I discuss below. Nonetheless, this page is dedicated to Methodist Mountain. The mountain stands prominently south of Salida at 11,707 feet in elevation, and it is easy to notice from U.S. Highway 50. If and when I return to stand on this mountain's summit, I will surely update this page! For the time being, maybe my hike photos will interest you.

Directions: From Highway 50 in Salida, travel south on Chaffee county Road 107. Then continue on Chaffee County Road 108 at a fork. Take C.R. 108 all the way up to the gate. At the entrance to the San Isabel National Forest, a 4-wheel-drive high clearance vehicle or truck with some clearance is a good idea. This road leads all the way to a high point with radio towers, located southeast of the summit. From there, it appears one can walk on the divide to the top of Methodist Mountain. Definitely review your topographical map!

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Methodist Mountain - Chaffee County, Colorado
Methodist Mountain, CO
A photo of Methodist Mountain (right center) as I was pulled over on Highway 291 north of Salida.
Salida, CO
The view of Methodist Mountain (right) from "S" Mountain (Tenderfoot Mountain) with the city of Salida in the foreground in May 2008. Note the pointed peak with a snowy face to the left - that is the site of the radio towers. The Methodist Mountain summit is on the gentle slope to the right.

Another view of Methodist Mountain at the junction of E Street and Highway 50 in Salida taken in April 2010.
Salida Days Inn
Before my hike, I captured a shot of the Methodist Mountain sign on Highway 50. Standing on the edge of the road, the view of the mountain is blocked by a Days Inn Motel. :)

By the way, my topographical map indicates the summit's elevation is 11,707 feet, a discrepancy of 52 feet compared to the sign above.

Click any image to view it at a larger size.
Dirt Road

The Hike Begins

My low clearance passenger vehicle did not do well once Chaffee County Road 108 enters the national forest. I was forced to park and walk quite a loooooong distance to the gate, located past the roads intersection near the Rainbow Trail.

If I ever do this hike again, I would most certainly use a high clearance vehicle to drive as far up the road as possible.

Methodist Mountain, CO There is no trail. All of this hike was done on the dirt road.

The adjacent photo does not show the summit. That green peak (right) is a false summit in front of Methodist Mountain.

Mt. Shavano, CO As I climbed, the views of the valley become nicer. The mountain scenery includes Mt. Shavano.
Myself beside a patch of beautiful snow. :)
Colorado Rocky Mountains Upward I continued on the road. On the left, the view of the Sangre De Cristo Mountains unfolded.
Colorado Mountain Scenery A scenery photo that includes the Bear Creek river watershed area in west Fremont County.
This was a very long hike. I estimated walking at least four miles when I reached this point - a boring slog on a rocky dirt road with views that didn't meet my expectations.

After making yet another bend in the road, the radio towers still looked very far away.

Methodist Mountain, CO I stitched these two pictures together to show my view. The radio towers are on the left peak, and the Methodist Mountain summit is somewhere on the right.
Methodist Mountain, Colorado On the road and coming closer to the Methodist Mountain summit.

As I came closer, I had two choices: 1) Walk the long distance to the radio towers, and then trudge through snow on the divide to the summit, or 2) leave the road, turn right and do steep climb in a snowy forest, with the hopes I would locate the summit. Option #1 was definitely not happening, and I considered Option #2 despite some reservations. Neither option appealed to me.

Photo Directly Above: As I hiked back down, strong and cold winds swept through and snowflakes came down. You can see the snow sticking to my jacket and flying by! :)

I must admit many factors and personal mistakes bothered me:

  • I misjudged the distance; this hike was very long. I started at approximately 8,200 feet and I was somewhere near 11,000 feet. My body was gassed and there was no way I would continue to the radio towers. (Option #1)
  • Even if I grunted up the steep snowy hill beside the road, I wasn't exactly sure of the location of Methodist Mountain's summit. My map is poor at showing the many "nooks and crannies" of the road, and I generally like knowing exactly where I am. (Option #2)
  • The cold weather and strong winds were affecting me physically with wind burn, and I sensed the weather would become worse. (It did on my way down.)
  • Although I had enough water, I usually carry an unrealistically large amount "just in case," but not this time. Again, I made a miscalculation about the length and physical requirements of this climb.

    So I stood there and rested. I even pulled out my tripod to capture a shot of myself standing on the snowy road. I was genuinely not sure what to do, but then this last event was the final straw: I opened my backpack to snack and saw nothing inside. I left my energy bars in the car! That settled it; I turned back.

    I know I made the right decision, but I felt humbled. I have an excellent track record of successfully summiting mountains including 14ers, but these smaller mountains without a trail that require navigation through thick forest are tougher. Oh well, at least I gave myself exercise today.

    Will I return? Maybe. It would be nice to post a "Steve at the summit" photo on this page. Since I did most of the hike, I would love to drive to the radio towers (if the gate is ever open), and then walk the short distance to the summit. We'll see.

  • Salida, CO

    Salida, Colorado

    Last but not least, two scenic photos that include Salida.

    My other Salida and southern Chaffee County pages:

  • S Mountain
  • Salida Railroad Tracks
  • Bike Poncha Pass
  • Boulder Mountain
  • Southern Chaffee County Overlook
  • Tincup Pass
  • Boss Lake Reservoir
  • Bald Mountain & Banana Mountain
  • Arkansas River Playhole
  • Browns Canyon
  • Mt. Princeton Hike

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