A beautiful Tuesday morning prompted us to drive Cottonwood Pass Road to the summit and then on to Buena Vista and back. We took two walks near and at the summit, and they were out of this world! Nancy and I agreed that these walks were probably better than anything that either of us have ever experienced.
The National Forest Wilderness trail started at a lookout maybe a mile or two from the summit and would take you to the summit if you chose. We didn't, but may do that another day, or year.
The summit trail started at 12,126 ft. elevation at the parking lot and ascending we estimate in excess of 1,000 feet in maybe 1 1/2 miles. It was a steady uphill grind, but we took our time and it didn't prove to be that difficult. I went out ahead and Nancy followed with the big camera. We had the trail to ourselves except for one family that we met as they were descending. The weather was just about perfect and both of us were blown away by the spectacular views in every direction. The Nikon does a great job of showing scenics like this, but it was truly much better in person than what the pictures show.
We would recommend this trail to anyone who is up to the high altitude climb. We're acclimated to the high country as we've been at 8,400 ft elevation all summer and it showed. When we first got to this area I would have been huffing, puffing, sucking wind, and stopping every 20 ft to catch my breath. I expected it to be more difficult, and was very pleased that it wasn't. In any case it is worth the trouble even if you go very, very slow.
Another post to follow with pictures of the drive from the summit to Buena Vista and back.