Chief's Head Peak

      by Gordon S. Novak Jr.       July 1, 1988

Chief's Head Peak is easily seen from the Allenspark area; from this vantage point it really looks like the Indian on the buffalo nickel, in a reclining position. It provides great views of Glacier Gorge and the highest mountains in the Park.

I leave at 07:55, directly from our cabin in Meeker Park; there's something satisfying about climbing a mountain directly, without taking a car to the trailhead. I take a shortcut through Meeker Park to catch the Sandbeach Lake trail at 09:00. I hike to Sandbeach Lake, then leave from there to climb Mt. Orton on the way. The end of the Mt. Orton ridge has a lot of large boulders that make for slow going; a better route may be to hike up Hunter's Creek toward Pagoda, then go west up onto the ridge, bypassing Mt. Orton. I leave the Mt. Orton summit at 14:20, reaching the base of the steeper slope of Chief's Head half an hour later.
I reach the summit at 17:12. From the summit, there is a steep cliff dropping down into Glacier Gorge. The ridge connecting to Pagoda is studded with blocks that make it largely impassable. The view of Longs and Pagoda is stunning. I leave at 17:35, returning via Copeland Lake to avoid any chance of getting lost on the shortcut in the dark, ending with a long weary trudge back up the hill on the road from the bottom of the valley. Back about 22:30.

Rocky Mountain National Park: The High Peaks