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Dillon, Colorado, United States

Mt. Bierstadt to Mt. Evans via Saw Tooth

Hiking from Mt. Bierstadt to Mt. Evans via the Saw Tooth route.

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Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 6.6 miles / 10.6 km
Duration: Full day
 
Overview: This is a great all day hike in which you will climb two 4ers, Mt. Bierstadt and Mt. Evans. In the process you will also traverse the saw tooth that seperates these two mountains. The hike up Bierstadt itself is faily easy and we even ran into people with their dogs. However, the crossing of the saw tooth will take you on a very intense class 3 scramble and is not dog or little child friendly. In fact, its not friendly for anyone who is not in shape or not able to take on a class 3 scramble. Its a great hike and a fun way to bag two 14ers in one day!

Tips: Start out early if you plan to do both peaks, especially if you aren't used to the altitude. Wear clothes that will keep you warn during the ascent up Mt. Bierstadt and that will be easy to shed once you reach the peak and sunshine. Also, be prepared for strong winds and colder temps on the way up Bierstadt.

I would strongly recommend leather gloves for the crossing of the saw tooth.

You will need to call the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to check the road conditions to the trail. As of August 2010, the Guanella Pass road was closed from Georgetown south. However, you could still access the trail head from the south on 285 turning onto Guanella Pass road once you reached the town of Grant.

Points of Interest

Water
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Crossing the Creek

Through out the first leg of the hike there are wonderful wooden bridges built above swampy areas. However, when you get to the stream, no bridge; just a log! Easy crossing though
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Rock Formation

As you face the mountain look to you left and you will see the a beautiful rock formation in the valley. It reminded me of Stonehege for some reason.
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Switch Backs

Up until this point the elevation gain has been relatively easy. This is the point in which the switch backs become steeper.
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Mt. Bierstadt Summit

Once you reach the summit, don't forget to sign the log book. Also, look to the west and you'll see Grays and Torreys peak; to the north is Jame's Peak; and to the east is Mt. Evans.
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Beginning of Saw Tooth

This is the beginning of the descent down the saw tooth. Make sure you REALLY want to do this, as once you descend, there is no easy way back. The saw tooth is a class 3 scramble, meaning that you will be using your hands in places to climb and navigate around rocks.

We had the fortune to speak with a ranger on our way across and he gave us some good advice which I will pass along. Stay as high as possible when crossing. Yes, it will take longer. However, if you don't go down, you don't have to come back up. This is important, because on your way out of the saw tooth you will do some heavy climbing. How much climbing depends on how far down you chose to go.
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Middle of Saw Tooth

This is just about the middle of the saw tooth. Depending on your route, you may have to hug some rocks to get by. Just take you time and judge wisely and you'll be fine.
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Cross to the other side

You'll notice that you will hike on both sides of the saw tooth. At this point you should take a look back at where you've come from. It helps give you a sense of accomplishment and boosts your will power for what is about to come.

Also, look for the little rock piles that have been built as trail markers. They help reasure you that you're on the right path.
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Ascent up the Saw Tooth

If you've followed our trail get ready to make a heft ascent. You will need to use both hands and feet due to both the steepness and the loose rocks. BE VERY CAREFUL as rock slides can happen without warning here.
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Final Push out of Saw Tooth

At this point you will almost climbing out of the saw tooth. Take a deep breath and if you are afraid of heights, don't look down. To the left is a drop off of at least 500ft. Don't be too nervous as there is a nice path to climb up that doesn't take you too close to the edge.
Mountain
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Mt. Evans Boulder Field

From here you will be able to see a lower peak of Mt. Evans. The final peak is not in view yet as you will need to hike around to the south side of the peak shown in the picture.

The boulder field isn't too hard to navigate but you will have to keep a close watch for those trail markers. There really isn't a defined trail at this stage, but the markers keep you on a relatively course.

Also, watch for wildlife.
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Seeing the Top of Mt. Evans

After traversing through a boulder field and the south west side of Mt. Evans you will finally be able to see the peak. You still have a small bit of boulder hoping to do yet, but the end is in site.
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Trail to the Top

When you finish hiking around the peak, you will come out just above the parking lot and onto the easy trail to the top. Enjoy the relaxed switch backs as you ascend for the final time.
Mountain
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Mt. Evans Summit

At the summit, make sure to sign the registry and then take a look around. Its a breath taking view and on a clear day you can see down town Denver.

It's possible to go back the way you came to get back to the trail head, or you can arrange to have someone meet you at the top of Mt. Evans and give you a ride back to your car. We opted for the car ride and even gave a couple of other hikers a ride as well.
Pictures in this guide taken by: montyfox, Grays and Torrey's Peaks

Mt. Bierstadt to Mt. Evans via Saw Tooth Trail Map


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montyfox
montyfox
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Mt. Bierstadt to Mt. Evans via Saw Tooth 3 Day Forecast

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