Mount Audubon
excerpts from the book
Colorado's
Incredible Backcountry Trails 
by David Day

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Incredible Backcountry Trails
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    Distance: 7.4 miles (round trip)

    Walking time: 5 1/2 hours
        
    Elevations
    : 2,720 ft. gain/loss
       Mount Audubon Trailhead (start): 10,510 ft.
       Mount Audubon: 13,223 ft.

    Trail: Good trail except for the last 0.5-mile scramble to the summit.

    Season: Midsummer through mid-fall. The trail is generally covered with snow from mid-November until mid-July.

    Vicinity: Near Boulder

    Mount AudubonMount Audubon

     

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    Mount Audubon, though one of the highest summits in the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area, is also one of the easiest peaks to climb. The high, rounded mountain has been whimsically described by author Ruth Cushman as looking like "a dish of ice cream with one spoonful taken from its side". I would describe it as a buxom young woman lying slightly on her side. Yet the gentle curving summit Audubon is bordered by a sea of jagged peaks that seem to be breaking on its western slopes like waves in a fierce tropical storm. It is in large part the views of these other Indian Peaks on the nearby Continental Divide, along with the glaciers and the tarns below them, that make this climb a memorable one. The sweeping panoramas of the rugged wilderness west of Mount Audubon are very dramatic.

    The trail starts out as a pleasant walk through an open forest of Engelmann Spruce and subalpine fir with occasional views to the west of Mount Toll and Mitchell Lake. After 1.5 miles you will come to a sign where the trail splits. The path to the right leads to Beaver Creek; you must bear left for Mount Audubon. Shortly after leaving the trail junction the route immerges from the forest and continues its westward assent above timberline. For the next 1.5 miles you will be climbing up the long sloping side of the mountain towards a low rocky saddle on its northeast side.

    When you reach the saddle, 1.7 miles from the Beaver Creek Trail junction, the route turns abruptly south for the final scramble up the last 630 feet to the top. The trail almost disappears here while several additional "trails" spontaneously immerge. The steep rocky slope is covered with talus; hence it is impossible to permanently locate a trail. The goal is clearly in view, however, and it isnít difficult to pick your way up the rocky slope.

    When you reach the top of the mountain you will notice the presence of a half-dozen primitive rock shelters that have been built over the years to protect hikers from the winds that often howl over the top of the crest. When I climbed Audubon in August of 2000 I thought I had ascended into a jet stream-a cold front was moving through and there was a fifty-knot wind roaring over the mountain from the west. I am told by other hikers that this is not uncommon. There seems to be something about the shape of the terrain in the area that steers the westerly winds up and over the smooth sides of Mount Audubon like a venturi in a wind tunnel whenever a weather front moves across the Divide.

     

     
    The book includes more text, more photographs, and trail maps.

    If you are interested in a supplemental map of the Mount Audubon area
    we recommend:
    Indian Peaks (Trails Illustrated, map #102)

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