We headed to Keystone Ski Resort today for some high altitude summer hiking and scenery! Like many of the ski areas in the region, Keystone operates a gondola and chairlift up to the top during the summer for food, scenery, and activities. At Keystone specifically, most of the trails on the mountain are designated for mountain biking but there is a short loop for hiking that goes to a slightly higher elevation.
Keystone’s gondolas are unfortunately rather scratched up from their normal duties of ferrying skiers and snowboarders up the mountain. Not really great for photography but we made do. The poor condition of the glass (or whatever material its actually made from) meant that we weren’t able to get even close to acceptable photos of the bull moose that we saw below us! We saw one male on the way up and two more on the way down!
For basically the entire route, the gondola is paralleled by a slower chairlift. The chairlift was also in operation, primarily used for ferrying mountain bikers and their bicycles up the mountain.
Upon reaching the top, we walked around the summit area and enjoyed some all around spectacular scenery! There is a large deck facing the south. In this direction, we can see more of Keystone’s peaks.
To the southwest, we can see Breckenridge in the distance. In the foreground, more of Keystone’s chairlifts as well as what appears to be a wide open ski trail.
To the west, and a tad to the north, we could see Lake Dillon, aka Dillon Reservoir, in the distance. One again in the foreground, wide open expanses of ski trail.
To the north, we could see a bit of US Highway 6 as well as a tiny bit of the town of Keystone. Its mostly mountains in this direction though!
Dercum Summit Trail
We next headed to the Dercum Summit Trail to the south. This trail is named after one of the founders of Keystone as well as Arapahoe Basin a few miles away. It starts out with a steep descent and enters a wooded area.
There were other side paths that appeared to be used for maintenance and may be ski trails in the winter.
Here, the hiking trail crossed another unmarked route.
Occasionally, we could look back and see the summit area where we started our hike.
Sometimes, a bit of Lake Dillon was visible.
Eventually, we reached an area where some open expanses of land were visible.
Eventually, we reached a small spur trail that led to an overlook at the the top of a rather steep hill. This was the highest point we reached at approximately 11,800 feet. This little mountain top was mostly clear of trees and had great visibility in most directions.
At the end of this scenic spur, we were treated to this beautiful view. The area beyond was closed to hiking so this was as far as we went in this direction.
We switched to the telephoto lens to get a better look at some of the distant scenery! Here we see another one of Keystone’s mountain tops with a chair lift.
We got a nice look at Breck in the distance. It is about 10 miles away.
We had a clear view of where we started our hike. Lots of lift and gondola terminals as well as the Summit House.
We had a nice view of part of Lake Dillon. The little dots on the water are sailboats! There was a good breeze so it must have been quite nice down there!
After thoroughly enjoying the little mountain top that we were standing upon, we headed back to the main trail. It started heading downwards and back into the forest. It ran for little bit further before finally turning back towards where we started.
Part of the trail went through a scree field. Part of it was just broken up rocks but here there were plants growing in between.
As we were nearing the trailhead, we noticed this very yellow patch of wildflowers! It was the densest we saw today.
From the summit of Arapahoe Basin near Snow Plume Refuge, Keystone is easily visible to the southwest with Breck further beyond. If Keystone is visible from A-Basin, then A-Basin must be visible from Keystone! We looked to the northeast and were able to see the Zuma Lift towards the right at the top of the Montezuma Bowl. Towards the left, a few towers and the upper terminal of Beavers can be seen.
Soon after finding A-Basin, we returned to the summit where we started our hike.
After returning to the summit, we quickly looked around with the telephoto lens. Here is Breck again in the distance.
We tried to see if we could see the hiking trail we just did but it was impossible to locate any of it. This does appear to be part of the scree field that we walked through though.
We ended our time at the summit by enjoying the scenery from some Adirondack chairs near the Summit House. Just like a bluebird day during ski season, minus the snow of course!