Exploring Colorado's Political Peaks

Old Glory on the summit of Colorado's highest peak, 14,440' Mount Elbert.
Old Glory on the summit of Colorado's highest peak, 14,440' Mount Elbert. James Dziezynski
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It’s election season, a time when Americans convene in thoughtful discourse to set a path for our nation that will benefit the health, wealth, and prosperity of all citizens. I’m kidding of course. Everybody’s angry, nasty ads with scary music interrupt our favorite TV programs, and people we thought we knew will display (in our humble opinions) the decision making logic of a moldy eggplant. It’s ugly out there and I’m not just talking about Donald Trump’s day-glo orange hair weave and Hillary’s frumpy pant suits. To escape the demoralizing din of democracy, why not grab your hiking boots and check out some of Colorado’s politically inspired mountains.

Republican Mountain - 12,386’

Republican Mountain's summit crown.
    James Dziezynski
Republican Mountain's summit crown. James Dziezynski

Republican Mountain is hidden in the Front Range near the town of Empire. It’s actually a mighty fine hike, despite not having any established trails to its modest summit. The easiest way up follows a 4x4 road to its highest point, then goes off-trail along a gradual hill (class 2) about 1.7 miles from the end of the 4x4 road. Views of the I-70 corridor and the impressive 13,647’ Bard Peak are spectacular. Chances are if you ascend this overlooked summit, you’ll be in the 1% of Colorado’s hikers!

Mount Democrat - 14,148’

Sunset behind Mount Democrat.
Sunset behind Mount Democrat. Jerimiah LaRocco

In Colorado, Mount Democrat is far more popular than Republican Mountain thanks to it being one of the coveted 14,000’ summits. You won’t need a donkey to haul your gear up, since the standard route is considered one of the easier 14ers and it’s often climbed with fellow 14,000’ peaks Mount Cameron, Mount Lincoln, and Mount Bross in a single day. It may be worth noting that Mount Democrat is in the Mosquito Range, a group of peaks named after the vicious little bloodsucker… probably just a coincidence.

Clinton Peak - 13,857’

Clinton Peak from Clinton Gulch.
Clinton Peak from Clinton Gulch. Zach Dischner

You DO want to have relations with this Centennial 13er, located at the junction of the Mosquito and Tenmile Ranges. It’s a fun and adventurous summit that is mostly off-trail hiking with a bit of light scrambling, but nothing technical (class 2). There are great views of the Sawatch Range from Clinton’s summit and the terrain is suitable for most adventurous dogs. For those keeping track, this is the 82nd highest mountain in the state.

Mount Pence - 9,907’

Pence Park, the gateway to Mount Pence.
Pence Park, the gateway to Mount Pence. Jeffrey Beall

For those who might have forgotten, 2016 features Mike Pence as the VP candidate on the Republican ticket. Mount Pence is a wooded summit located in Denver’s Pence Park system, though the peak itself doesn’t have any established trails due to its proximity to privately owned land. Seldom visited, Mount Pence is sometimes hiked along with the more popular Mount Judge.

Bald Eagle Mountain - 11,913’

Once you summit Bald Eagle, hike over to Bald Eagle then back over Bald Eagle.
    James Dziezynski / CalTopo
Once you summit Bald Eagle, hike over to Bald Eagle then back over Bald Eagle. James Dziezynski / CalTopo

Seriously, what’s more American than the majestic bald eagle? How about two bald eagles? This humble summit is a short detour off the Colorado Trail near Turquoise Lake in the Leadville area and it features two identically named summit points less than a mile apart. If you want a double dose of ‘Merica and the odd bragging rights of snagging an overlooked avian-based mountain, this is your hike.

American Flag Mountain - 12,713’

Many people leave flags on American Flag Mountain.
Many people leave flags on American Flag Mountain. Carodean Road Designs

Patriots rejoice, your mountain awaits just outside of Gunnison! Each year, hikers bring up a new collection of flags to this quirky peak, meaning the stars and stripes are going to wave proudly for years to come. Admittedly, there’s something very meta about planting your American flag on the summit of American Flag Mountain. It’s a great place to watch twilight’s last gleaming, assuming you brought a headlamp to navigate your way down.

Whitehouse Mountain - 13,492’

Approaching Whitehouse Mountain.
    Liba Kopeckova
Approaching Whitehouse Mountain. Liba Kopeckova

It’s a tough, long, road to the Whitehouse—it’s got quite a long approach. Towering above the town of Ouray, this aesthetically pleasing peak is the taller of two Whitehouse Mountains in the state (the other stands at 11,975’ along the Treasure Mountain massif near Crested Butte). For peak baggers, this is a challenging but enjoyable summit that looks out on some of the more beautiful summits in the San Juan Range, including Potosi Peak and Mount Sneffels.

Worth Noting

Trump, Colorado (Ghost Town)

It's not exactly Trump Towers but it has good ventilation.
    James Dziezynski
It's not exactly Trump Towers but it has good ventilation. James Dziezynski

Boasting a population of 3 in 1936, what’s left of this town is even smaller than the boastful candidate’s itty-bitty hands, municipally speaking. As far as ruins go, they are great, probably the best ruins there are, and I know ruins, and these are some of the best. Currently, there is no mountain named "Trump" in the state but given that there are many peaks on private land, this may very well change some day.

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