Beaver Brook Watershed Open Space (Squaw Mountain)
- TH: From Evergreen, take Squaw Pass Rd towards Mt. Evans for 5+ miles. Make a right on Old Squaw Pass Rd (it’ll be one of the larger roads feeding off of Squaw Pass Rd) and there will be a small dirt parking lot on either side of the road.
- Attempted 1/27/13 and 2/22/13 (and many more times)
- Apprx 2 miles round trip (to reservoir) and another 2 miles to the “summit” of the mountain
- Apprx 1 hr hike (to reservoir) and another 1 hr to the “summit” of the mountain
- Easy snowshoe trip, easy hike w/o snow
- Snow will melt quickly on this hike, as it is pretty low elevation (probably about 8,000′)
- sunblock (the reflection off the snow will burn you like you wouldn’t believe)
- snowshoes (if it just snowed, definitely will make the trip easier)
- cross country skies (most often my choice of weapon here, perfect place for learning X-country skiing)
- microspikes (there was a slippery ice patch by the lake that was perfect for microspikes)
While I have certainly snowshoed this trail a few times when I was first learning to snowshoe (perfect place for beginners to practice because it’ll hold fresh snow in the winter but nothing steep enough to have an avalanche). Remember, one should be looking out for avalanche terrain by looking for slopes between 30-60 degrees (any lower than 30 and it probably won’t slip, more than 60 degrees and it is unlikely enough snow will stick to cause a dangerous avalanche). I would also suggest this trail for cross-country skiing. This was the first trail I tried XC skiing and it was great since there are some light hills and slightly steeper ones, so good practice. Moreover, Evergreen is pretty close to the Denver area, so I tend to go here for a quick half-day kind of winter hike.
From the TH, there is the steepest hill of the whole hike just a 1/4 mile away. It is a great hill to practice getting speed and carving a bit. Have I fallen going down this hill? Yeah, but it is no big deal. Have I made it down the entire hill? Yeah, I can do that now! Great hill going up and down for XC skiing (or snowshoeing if you want to practice hills). At the bottom of this pretty lengthy hill is the reservoir. While I have gone across it during the middle of winter, I would not advice it. Take it from me when I say that there is nothing on the other side of the reservoir: waste of time and unnecessarily risky.
Continuing on the trail from the reservoir, there will eventually be a small gate where you are presented with two hikes (both of which I have done): Go hiker’s left and remain in the trees or go through the gate (to the other side of the river) and hike up the mountain. Going left basically be a slight hill (5 degree slop) the entire way and you won’t be able to ski down it with much speed. While the snow will more likely be untouched and the hike prettier (I like hiking in the trees every once in awhile), I do not know how far up it goes – I always just turn around eventually and head back home. Going right through the gate will take you on the other side of the river and up the mountain. The service road here tends to not hold snow as well as if you go left; however, it’ll be a steeper run down the service road if it does have snow.
Eventually there will be a small trail branching left off of the service road. While the service road continues on, I always have turned up here to the “summit” of this mountain (not Squaw Mountain, but just the one I am hiking up). It is beautiful to be surrounded by the Evergreens on your way to the summit. I would advice going up, but do tell me what lies beyond on the service road if you choose to venture down that road (lol).
It isn’t long from here that you’ll make it to the summit. This hill is steep enough, maybe 10 degrees or so, and steep enough to ski down.
It should be noted that from where you see those tracks it is a pretty steep, but short, climb up to the summit. It is worth it, it really isn’t too bad to hike up or down, but exercise good judgement if you are not experienced with steep and snowy climbs.
Overall this is a perfect hike for anyone looking for a quick winter hike or any beginners looking to get into cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. It’ll give you a feel of how to handle the equipment in an avalanche-free environment. One thing to consider is that this mountain sometimes attracts hunters to shoot their guns. In Colorado, it is legal to fire guns if you are 100 yards from a trail in any direction, and that is achievable on this mountain. I have been hiking and heard some gun shots in the background. While it sounds concerning, I don’t feel like I am going to accidentally be shot or anything like that, I trust that these hunters are exercising caution. It does, however, take away from the beauty in the silence of nature, so that is a turn off for me. It is just something to consider! I have had better luck with this when I go during the week rather than the weekend.