Mount Esther Via Crowe Gulch

Distance5.89 mi
Elevation Gain1,037 ft
My Time2 hr 50 min
DifficultyModerate
Closest TownCascade
Food NearbyWines of Co

Mount Esther Via Crowe Gulch

The hike to Mount Esther via Crowe Gulch is a moderate hike through the Pike National Forest with amazing views of the Pikes Peak Area.

Getting Started

The trailhead for Mount Esther is at the Crowe Gulch picnic area on the Pikes Peak highway. This is important to know because it means you will have to pay a toll to get to the trailhead. The picnic area is about 3 miles up the road from the toll booth so should stay open longer into the year.

The trail itself starts off as a narrow dirt trail that heads through a bit of a valley between two hills. If you don’t want to do the entire hike and are looking for some good views, there is an overlook to the left a tenth of a mile into the hike that takes you to a really nice view.

The overlook view.  A long valley leading up to the snowcapped peaks in the background of the Mt. Esther trail.
The view from the overlook near the beginning of the hike

Continuing past the overlook is a gently sloping narrow trail that leads through the valley. This valley will be about a mile long with about 300 feet of elevation gain. Eight-tenths of a mile down the path you will come to a junction. To go to Mount Esther you will need to stay to the left but there are some nice views if you go up the other trail for a bit.

At the one mile mark the trail take a turn to the west and begins to pick up some elevation as you will need to climb a hill to a ridgeline to complete the hike. The view back across the valley is very nice from this hill.

The view looking back towards the  trailhead from the hill above the first valley on the Mt. Esther Crowe gulch hike.

The Hill

One mile into the hike you will turn to the west and start to head up the steepest part of the hike. The hill is about 3/4 of a mile long and has some inclines up to mid to upper twenties in grade. It also has a couple of junctions that make the trail hard to follow.

The first junction you come to while elevating you will want to stay to the left. If you head to the right you will go down a hill and connect to another trail that will take you away from the peak. There are some small signs pointing and plenty of footsteps but it can get confusing. The second confusing part, especially if there is snow on the ground, comes about a third of a mile up the hill.

About a third of the way up the hill you will come to a spot where you can walk straight up the hill or across a narrow path halfway up a hill. The trail is marked to go around the side of the hill if you look for trail markers up in the trees. Again it isn’t marked very well and I ended up coming down the steeper part because I lost the trail.

When you get to the ridgeline the trail will drift off to the north (right) but there are some great views if you take the small path up to the ridge. This is the first time that you will be able to see the surrounding peaks.

This is a nice place to stop and I think a lot of people make this the end of their hike. If you do continue on the hike the views get better but the trail gets harder to follow.

Ridgeline to Mount Esther

To get to Mount Esther you will want to walk along this ridgeline to the north for about a mile. The trail is more of a gradual incline and nothing as bad as the hill was. However, the trail is very difficult to find if there is snow on the ground. I spent a lot of my time staring down at my phone making sure I was going the right direction.

The ridgeline has more trees around than the first valley and is a really nice walk. To the west there are several places you can stop off to get good views of the peaks.

Pikes Peak and the surrounding rocky mountain tops from a spot on the ridgeline on the way to Mt. Esther.

The end of the hike to Mount Esther brings you to a small rocky area with vertical slabs of rock that make for decent benches. The views of the mountains and tree lined hills to the north are worth the price of admission and make for a great ending to the hike.

The return trip is fairly easy from a technical standpoint. Make sure you are paying attention to where you are going though. The trail is just as hard to follow coming back this way as it was going up the hill. If you missed the overlook at the beginning of the hike, this would be a great time to check that out as well.

Elevation and Distance

If you don’t have the AllTrails app you might want to check it out, I really love mine. It records your progress and is a great way to search for hikes that are nearby and gives you difficulty measurements. According to AllTrails today’s hike was around 5.89 miles and had a total elevation gain of about 1,037 feet including undulations. That put the high point at around 9,528 feet. I was also moving for a total of 2 hours and 50 minutes.

Effort

Despite having over 1000 feet of elevation gain this trail wasn’t too difficult as the gains were pretty spread out. The hardest part was keeping track of the trail. Here is the step count from my Fitbit.

The step count for my hike to Mt. Esther via Crowe Gulch was 15,846 steps.

Terrain

The trail to Mount Esther was dirt and narrow for the most part. In the winter the trail does become very hard to follow. There are a few signs scattered about the trail but the snow cover does a good job of hiding the actual trail. I found myself wandering around staring at my phone app to find out when I was in the right spot more than once.

Access

The Mount Esther trailhead is located at the Crowe Gulch picnic area on the Pikes Peak Highway. There is a toll both as you enter from Cascade, Colorado. The tolls for the winter are $10 per person and you can find rates and annual pass options here. At the trailhead there is room for about a dozen cars and a couple of pit toilets. There are also some picnic tables nearby.

Wrap Up of Mount Esther via Crowe Gulch

I really liked this hike. It was moderately challenging more so from the snow covering the trail than the actual hike. The hike is really beautiful with woods and peaks and valleys all to enjoy. It was the perfect amount of effort and relaxing walk in the woods for me to be very enjoyable.

There was a fee to get in which I didn’t really like but I understand. I didn’t know that was the case so it threw me off a bit when I pulled up. The hike takes about 3 hours so you might be able to do this hike and have a picnic or drive the road a bit more to get your money’s worth. Overall a very enjoyable hike with great views.

I have added this hike and all of my hikes to my interactive map page that you can find here. If you have a suggestion or comment you can email me at fatmanlittletrails@gmail.com. You can also follow me on any of the below social media platforms. Happy Hiking!

1 thought on “Mount Esther Via Crowe Gulch”

  1. Pingback: The Wines of Colorado - Cascade - Fat Man Little Trail

Leave a Reply