Deer Mountain

On the first trip that we made to Estes Park, Colorado my wife, my grandson and I wanted to take our first hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. We had never been here before so we weren’t familiar with any of the trails in the park. We obtained a hiking map on our way into the park. The map lists all of the trails on the south side of the park and gives the length and altitude gain for each trail. There is another map that gives the difficulty of each trail marked as easy, mild, or difficult, but we didn’t know about that map. A few miles into the park we noticed a parking area and a sign for the Deer Mountain trail head. We stopped and took a look. The info didn’t give the altitude gain or the difficulty but did say the top was at 10,013 and the trail was three miles long. Deer Mountain wasn’t listed on my hiking map either. Not knowing any better, we decided this was as good a good place to start.

After about a mile of hiking, we were all sucking air. The trail had gotten fairly steep and was snaking back and forth up the side of the mountain. My wife was beginning to question the wisdom of taking this hike, after all we are flatlanders and here we are at a little over 9 thousand feet. I think all three of us were starting to look for some reason to turn around without looking like wimps. I don’t remember what excuse we finally came up with, but we did turn around on that trip. I felt bad that we stopped short of our goal and vowed that next year we would make it to the top. The wife and grandson reluctantly agreed that next year we would make it.

When next year came, the first thing I wanted to do was go to Deer Mountain. With a little questioning by the wife and a lot of complaining from the grandson, we headed up the mountain. When we got to about the halfway point, I could tell that my wife was really having some difficulty and the grandson was still complaining about the hike. I might have made some comment about wimps at some point. When I told my wife that I would be okay with turning back again, she said, “no way”. “I’m not going to hold you back”. I said it would be okay, but she wouldn’t have it. She wasn’t going to be a wimp! Onward and upward we went!

The year before we made this trip, my wife’s father passed away at 96 years old.  All of our grandkids loved their great granddaddy, and Bradley, the grandson who was with us on this hike, talked many times about missing his great granddaddy.  As we were climbing the mountain, Bradley made the comment that he felt like we were going up to heaven.  We chuckled at that and agreed that we were going pretty high.  When we got close to the top, Bradley blurted out, “granddaddy, we are coming to see you!  We are almost there”!  Even though my wife was about to pass out from lack of oxygen, we both had a good laugh from what Bradley said.  Thing is, Bradley was serious. 

After stopping for what seemed like a hundred times, we finally made it to the top of Deer Mountain.  My wife was hurting and for awhile I was really concerned about her but she was able to catch her breath.  There are some great views from the top of the mountain but my wife looked at me and said, “if I live to get off this mountain I will never come here again.”  We found out later that the hike up Deer Mountain is classified a difficult hike.

Fast forward to this year.  Our grandson told us that he wanted to hike up Deer Mountain this year.  What a shock that was!  He is the one who always complains about having to go on hikes but for some unexplained reason he said that Deer Mountain was his favorite mountain.  Go figure!  I was definitely okay with that but my wife wouldn’t have any part of it.  She reminded me of what she had said before.  So, a few days ago, Bradley and I took off for Deer Mountain.  The hike is 3 miles one way and the altitude gain is 1,200 feet from the trail head.  Bradley said that he wanted to make it to the top without sitting down to rest.  So on the way up, we stopped to take some pictures and drink some water, but did not take a sit down break.  We made it to the top in 1 hour 50 minutes.  That’s not bad for a 67 year old and a grandson who gets his exercise playing video games!

I had forgotten how beautiful the view is from on top of Deer Mountain.  The top of the mountain is a fairly small area but it is mostly rock without many trees to incumber the view.  From the top you can see all of Estes Park, the campground that we are staying in, Long’s Peak and back to the west you can see Trail Ridge Road and just make out the Alpine Vistors Center at the top of Trail Ridge Road.  For those who like to hike, it is well worth the effort to get there.  If you don’t want to hike it, there is a 6 hour horse back ride from the Gateway Stables that will take you to the top of Deer Mountain.

Brad and Bradley

Brad and Bradley on top of Deer Mountain

Camground from Deer Mountain

Campground from Deer Mountain. Used a 200mm Telephoto lens

Estes Park from Deer Mountain

Estes Park from Deer Mountain


Mountains to the west of Deer Mountain



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