Colorado, Colorado 13ers, Colorado Hikes, Colorado Summits

Colorado 13ers: Cupid Peak and Grizzly Peak D

My goal for this summer is to summit more mountains. So far, my progress has been subpar.

I always go into the summer with so many plans and an endless list of hikes to accomplish, and inevitably time gets away from me and suddenly it’s almost time to go back to work and I’ve crossed almost nothing off my to-do list. This summer has been no exception. Of course, this can partially be explained by the fact that my to-do lists are always unrealistically lengthy.

But back in June, when it still felt like I had a whole summer of mountain climbing in front of me, I began my summer of summits with a twofer: Cupid and Grizzly Peaks.

(In retrospect, two 13ers in one day after not spending much time at elevation during the previous two months may not have been the best way to start. But I digress.)

Cupid and Grizzly Peaks rise above Loveland Pass and are two of the more commonly climbed 13ers in the area due to the relatively easy access. The road up Loveland Pass (Highway 6) is paved the entire way and is therefore accessible by any car. It’s also an easy-to-navigate hike; the route is obvious and there is a trail the entire way. Nonetheless, on this particular day I saw very few people.

I arrived at Loveland Pass around 7:30am on a Wednesday and set off. This trail is uphill from the very first step. It’s brutal. Pat and I summitted Mount Sniktau a few years back, a hike which begins on this same trail. At the time, I swore I’d never hike it again. Obviously, that was a lie. I think enough time had passed that I’d forgotten exactly how steep it is. I was quickly reminded.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to hike the whole thing. Rather than climbing all the way to the first high point, I took the bypass trail which cuts off to the right toward Cupid and Grizzly. It’s marked by a giant cairn and pretty hard to miss if you know to look for it.

Cairn marking the beginning of the bypass trail (the hump in the center is Cupid and the point poking up just to the right is Grizzly)
Looking down at Loveland Pass from the bypass trail

The bypass trail cuts across the hillside to a saddle not far below the summit of Cupid Peak. A short walk along the ridge brought me to the top. There was no one else there. In fact, there was no one else anywhere. I’d passed two people headed back down the bypass trail, but that was it. Everyone else parked at the trailhead must have gone the other direction. That was fine by me. It’s not often that you have a popular summit all to yourself!

Summit views from Cupid Peak (elevation: 13117 ft/3998 m)

Unfortunately, I didn’t stay long thanks to the wind. It was the kind that makes it hard to walk in a straight line at times, and whips your backpack straps right up into your face. I briefly debated turning around at this point. Dropping down to the saddle and then climbing Grizzly in so much wind wasn’t all that appealing. But I’d come this far and there was no threat of storms, so I ultimately decided to press on.

Despite the blue sky and sunshine, it was not warm

Reaching Grizzly Peak from Cupid requires losing about 300 feet (91 m) of elevation, climbing 200 feet (61 m) up and over a hump in the ridge, descending 200 feet (61 m), and then ascending the final 700 feet (215 m) up the ridge of Grizzly, all in about 1 mile (1.6 km). And yes, it was absolutely as steep as it looks.

Trail to Grizzly, as seen from the summit of Cupid (Grizzly is the highest point, left of center)
Dropping down from Cupid
Just left of center is the 200 foot “hump” in the ridge
Looking up the final stretch to the Grizzly summit

It took me almost an hour to cover this distance between the two summits. The combination of steep, rocky, and high altitude made for very slow progress. But I did it. And once again found myself completely alone on the mountain!

(By the way, there are numerous Grizzly Peaks in Colorado, which is why this one is technically called “Grizzly Peak D.”)

Summit views from Grizzly Peak (elevation: 13427 ft/4093 m)
14ers Torreys Peak (left) and Grays Peak (right), as seen from Grizzly
Not a bad view while eating a snack

It’s so tempting to stand on the summit of a mountain and celebrate that the hardest part is over and it’s all downhill from here. Except… in this case, it’s not. Going down is often just as challenging as going up. I now had to carefully descend all the steep rock I’d just ascended (thank goodness for hiking poles). And then I had to climb back up over that annoying 200 foot (61 m) hump. And re-summit Cupid. My tired muscles were not amused.

By the time I was back to the car, my face was windburned, my lungs were burning, and my legs felt like jelly. I sometimes forget just how much more exhausting everything is when you’re at elevation.

But I did it.

Another solo hike and two more 13ers in the books!


The Important Stuff:

  • Getting there: the trail begins on the south side of Loveland Pass summit. Check before heading out to make sure Loveland Pass road (US Hwy 6) is open; poor weather, avalanches, and landslides often cause short-term closures
  • Fees and passes: none
  • Hiking: roundtrip to both summits via the bypass trail is 5.74 miles (9.2 km) with 2559 feet (780 m) of elevation gain
  • Where to stay: there really aren’t any camping or backpacking options nearby, therefore this is best done as a day hike from the Front Range, Clear Creek Canyon, or Summit County
  • Other: this entire hike is above tree line; it begins around 12,000 feet (3655 m). There is absolutely no shelter from storms, so start early, keep a very close eye on the weather, and be sure you have adequate time to make it back to your car before storms approach

39 thoughts on “Colorado 13ers: Cupid Peak and Grizzly Peak D”

  1. Cupid and Grizzly are two very nice looking mountains! Way to get after it Diane. While I generally don’t like to lose any hard-gained elevation, to nab a second summit is totally 100% worth it, especially when you are already at altitude. 13,000′ is mighty high! Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I actually don’t mind hiking alone when I’m up above the trees like this and I can see where I’m going. It’s an empowering feeling, too, to accomplish something like this on your own.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. So jealous, and I really want to go on a good hike right now. I so feel the pains of the dreaded downhill climb… They destroy my (getting) old knees! When the Hubs and I hike together, I annihilate him on the uphill stretches, just for him to mock me on the downhills.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. Ooof sorry to hear you have Covid. That was me 6 weeks ago, so I can totally relate. It’s hard to stay inside, especially during summer adventure season. Hope you’re able to get back out there soon!

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  3. Well done! A two-fer! How nice that you got it all to yourself. It’s funny how people forget the pain and keep going back for more, only to think, “Gah! Why am I doing this?!” And you’re so right about it not being finished at the summit. The down-climb can be as bad (or worse) than the ascent – it’s just different parts of the body that hurt. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So true! I just got back from an incredibly challenging (but amazing) backpacking trip with a friend… one that Pat now wants to do with me someday. I told him he’ll have to wait a few years, until I’ve forgotten how steep and miserable parts of it were. Then maybe I’ll be ready to endure the suffering again.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it can be very deceptive here. The sun is intense and often brutally hot at this elevation, and yet the air (and wind) is cold. It’s strange and can be difficult to dress for.

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  4. It’s funny how quick we are to forget the rough conditions on the trail sometimes. At least you had the trail (mostly) all to yourselves. Grizzly Peak looks like it was aptly named with the steepness. I couldn’t help but laugh at how there are multiple peaks with the same name. I guess they ran out of other ideas.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh don’t even get me started on the names haha! There are so many Blue Lakes, Lost Lakes, and multiple other duplicate (and triplicate, and more-than-triplicate) names here. People really needed to be more creative. It’s confusing.

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  5. Wow, such beautiful views – in my humble opinion, mountains are nature at its best. Congratulations on bagging a few more Colorado mountain peaks, Diana! A climb to the summit makes one experience physical, emotional and spiritual fulfilments. Thanks for sharing and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Well done on the summits! It’s beautiful up there. I know what you mean about having a list of summer hikes. Sometimes I make unrealistic goals. Also, it’s smoke from the fires that keep me indoors. Unfortunately, it’s become a common summer occurrence in my area of California.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! We’ve been lucky here so far this summer to not have any major fires (lots of rain, thankfully). But I’m sure smoke from California will make it here eventually. It’s definitely a bummer to have plans ruined by smoke.

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    1. Ah, Diana, how I love your hiking posts. They always give me great inspiration for future hikes and you’re right, there’s never enough time to do them all but some of them at least. 😉 Never stop exploring!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Congratulations for your climbing these twoo summits in strong winds but also for the fantastic panorama shots you provided. In a few days Ieave for Austria, also for doing some hikes in the mountains 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Kudos to you for making it through all of that! Not only does the ascent/descent look tough, but doing so at high altitude (especially while not acclimated yet) is a challenge for experienced hikers! Great views all around, and you really pushed yourself this time this summer!

    Liked by 1 person

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