This was the last hike on my Colorado vacation. I checked out of my motel and made a rather late start on this one around 9am. But, there were just some low clouds and nothing threatening, and with such a short hike, I would beat any late morning storms. West Dyer is not a ranked peak using the 300-foot rule, so it doesn't add to one's "official" 13er total, but it is still a nice hike.
The driving directions in Roach's 13er guidebook for this alternate trailhead for Dyer Mountain are incorrect. Drive the roads as described, but you don't park until 6.5 miles after the turn onto 3rd Street in downtown Leadville. The first parking is just after crossing under the high-tension lines, with more parking just a bit farther up the road.
The first part of the hike goes across a meadow which was a riot of wildflowers, in contrast to the talus slopes ahead. After the meadow, one has to get up a steep slope to a flat area with a small lake. In the photo below, this is best done on the left. In fact, on the way down, there was a climber's trail on the very left side which you probably won't find on the way up because it is so far up the side of the gully.
Above this steeper part, you continue on tundra up past the small lake, and then engage the talus slopes as the gully angles left up to a saddle. Most of this is rather shallow, with just one short steeper section. As you approach the saddle, you have the choice of angling farther left more directly toward the summit. I did this on the way up and went through the saddle on the way down. On the ascent, I encountered another climber and we had a nice chat about the virtues of these unpopular lower peaks as opposed to the 14ers and high 13ers.
The summit itself isn't anything special, but it does give an especially good aerial view of Leadville and the northern Sawatch Range, especially Mount Massive. One can see the other high peaks in the immediate area and the steep semi-technical ridge up Dyer Mountain.
Even with the 15 minute conversation, the hike barely took 2 hours, and I spent quite a bit of time taking photos of the flowers. It is easier to find an optimal route on the descent, so it will probably be even faster than you think based on the ascent. So, this is a short report, but also a short hike. A good hike if you don't have much time to kill. From here, I drove 6 hours to Bernalillo, New Mexico, narrowly beating a severe thunderstorm, with another 6 hours of driving home the next day to complete the trip.
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File last modified: 27 July 2006