With a 24 hour window and the weather looking ok, it was time to hike Pikes. My friend Jay was up to it but our last minute scrambling set the departure back a bit. Its ironic that the hikes and climbs up Pikes Peak are so long when there is a road and a cog railway that you can take to the top, Still we knew there would be hardly anyone there at night on a night hike to the top in the dark. it wasn’t too late when we rolled into the Crags campground, which is to the West and North of Pikes Peak near Woodland Park. The beta I had read on 14ers,com had estimates of the route up Pikes from here as being 11 miles roundtrip and 4k elevation gain, so we we departed the campground trailhead in the dark after midnight it seemed about right to catch the dawn on the summit. Bringing along a GPS revealed that it was a good deal longer than that if you took the trail the whole way, we recorded 7.55 miles each way for a 15 mile round trip. One of the great experiences of this hike is seeing this intense artificial starlight beacon that shines from the peak at night. When we came over the crest at Devil’s Playground it was stunning to see. On the summit you can see the contraption set up at the very end of the cog railway tracks. You better stop that train before that light.
On the top there are awesome views all around, and a bizarre Masonic time-capsule worth a look.
We hung around to see the shop open up and get some fresh coffee and donuts, which after that long night hike were exceptionally good. We could hear the Cog Railway coming, so it was time to get going back down. We had to stop and climb around in the Devil’s Playground on the way back down. If you drive up, stop here and check it out. Great bouldering formations up in the high tundra to clamber on.
We also got a better look at what the campground was named for, “The Crags”, on the way back, with lots of clearly great climbing all over it.
All in all, a great half night/day in the high mountains!