Yankee Hill Hike
|The hike up Yankee Hill begins off of Mine Road; the Jeep road that leads up the face is, to my mind, difficult even for SUV’s (check out some of the youtubes!), but for hikers, no problem. At the lowest part of the hike are some miner’s cabins that will provide early interest.|
|These cabins are part of the mining town of Ninetyfour, which sprung up during the gold rush in the Colorado Territory in the late 1800’s. If you follow the road that goes directly to the summit, you should see lots of bluebirds from early spring on; you’ll also get awesome views across the valley of the glacier and the old ski runs by Anchor Gulch.|
|To the south, the views of Grays Peak and Torrey’s Peak can’t be beat, any time of the year. Grays and Torreys, both Fourteeners, are the highest points on the Continental Divide.|
|At the crest of the hill, to the northeast, is a large rock outcropping that is home to a colony of marmots. Typically they have a ‘watchdog’ on duty at all times, that will whistle a warning to the others as you come into view. As you reach the crest, you will see a trail that works its way west. This trail eventually ends at Fall River Road, and there is marked as Cumberland Gulch Road. Along the way you will see more cabin ruins, beautiful stands of aspen and banks of kinnickinick, as well as a large mining ruin.|
|There also is a small pond that is populated with the most unusual looking fish I have ever seen, a bit something like a catfish or a really, really large sculpin. This is a very long hike if you take it to Fall River Road; we’ve usually made it when we had two cars on hand, so one car could be parked on the pullout where Cumberland Gulch Road intersects Fall River Road, enabling us to drive back to the cabin.
Alternatively, instead of hiking the crest of Yankee Hill, you can follow the trail north along the front of the cabins of NinetyFour. This trail takes you to the top of the ‘bowl’ on the north side of our valley. (Caution: this can be a difficult hike in winter, as the snow tends to drift at a slant across the road). If you continue around the bowl you’ll arrive at the Glacier. Alternatively, do a glacier hike separately, and from the top of the north side of the bowl, head straight down to Silver Lake far below…in July especially the wildflower meadow you traverse is incredible. It gets a bit rocky with numerous thickets and difficult as you get closer to the roads, so be prepared for that.
SEASONS ON YANKEE HILL
Winter: Prepare for strong winds, but those same winds often blow the snow away, so if it’s a calm winter day, that’s a good time to go for it.
Spring: look for the first bluebirds and pasque flowers.
Summer: this is my favorite time to hike north to the top of the bowl (described above) and then hike down the meadow. In late summer there may only be one spring running, so bring plenty of water for your dog.
Fall: the aspens changing color as your hike toward Cumberland Gulch Road are a must see.