Peak(s):  Bard Pk - 13,641 feet
Robeson Pk - 13,140 feet
Parnassus, Mt - 13,574 feet
Date Posted:  10/27/2021
Date Climbed:   09/26/2021
Author:  CaptainSuburbia
 A Quick Climb to Bard Peak   

Bard Peak was my nemesis last year. Twice I bailed on summit attempts because of bad weather. The first time was in the spring when I got winded off after getting to Parnassus Peak. The second time was in the fall when fog, rain and sleet moved in on us after reaching Robeson. I was still able to add Englemann that day, but Bard was out of the question. This day would be my third and hopefully last attempt.

Day of Climb: Sunday September 26th, 2021.

Trailhead: Ruby Gulch (URAD mine)

Peaks: Bard Peak, Robeson Peak and Parnassus Peak

Mileage and Elevation Gain: 9.24 miles and 4448 feet of gain

Duration of Climb: 4 hours and 59 minutes. Start time: 9:02, Bard Summit: 11:15, end time: 2:01

Orange = First attempt at Bard from Herman Gulch, Green = Second attempt with descent down Englemanns NW ridge directly to the trailhead, Blue = Bard route for this trip report

I arrived at the Ruby Gulch trailhead just before 9 am.This would be a late start. I wasn't concerned though because a perfect weather forecast was predicted and the hike was reasonably short and very straightforward. I do really like this trailhead and it's proximity to the Front Range, and I'm surprised it doesn't get more traffic. There were only a couple other cars parked there on this day and the 1.5 hour drive from Fort Collins was more than delightful. So, just after 9 Leo "the wonder dog" and I headed up an old mining road to start our journey.

Trail begins behind this sign on a mining road.

The road was an easy hike. A bit steep initially but nothing too bad. Our first goal was to find and climb the Northwest Ridge of Robeson Peak to its summit. There seems to be 101 ways to access this group of peaks with everyone seemingly doing something different and saying this is the way. Most of them involve some sort of scree gully or bushwack, so I decided to stick with the route I did last fall going up Robesons NW ridge which I thought had worked out pretty well. After reaching Robeson we would then climb Bard Peak by its Northeast slope.

Following Leo up the mining road

We made good time up the road and at a split we went left and eventually came to a small flat area. There were some old mining rails scattered about here. We left the road to the right and went up a steep embankment and then started following a faint trail through the woods. A short distance later we came out into a meadow and cut left to the base of Robesons NW Ridge.

Meadow with a view of Parnassus Peak.

We had slightly passed the best place to access the ridge so we back tracked a bit not wanting to ascend a scree slope. We quickly found a nice, mostly grass slope and started up it instead. There was a log cabin remnant to the left. The slope was very steep to start but manageable, and led us directly to the ridge proper after a short distance.

The scree slope we avoided at the base of ridge. I did this slope last year and it's doable but not fun.
The more friendly slope we ascended to the ridge.
Leo on ridge proper with Englemann Peak in the distance.

Once on the ridge we didn't waste time and started up. It was steep but easy class 2 terrain with a mix of rock piles and grass. I threw in lots of baby switchbacks to make it easier while admiring the great views of Parnassus and Leo effortlessly marched up leading the way. About half way up, the ridge widened into a large grassy slope making the final summit push easy.

Gully to the left of our ridge that some take to summit the Bard Group.
Leo taking in the views.
The ridge is now a wide slope.
Looking back down the ridge.
The final slope to the summit.

The high point of Robeson was pretty nondescript and only marked by a small cairn. We didn't stop as we hiked across the flat summit area and continued on towards Bard Peak. The descent off Robeson was fairly gradual and it didn't take long to reach the saddle where we began our climb up the North ridge of Bard.

Robeson summit with Bard in the distance. Parnassus is off to the right.
Approaching the saddle and the northeast slope of Bard.

The climb up Bard was pretty simple class 2. There was no trail, but it was obvious where to go and we stayed close to the ridge line working our way up. The terrain got a little more rugged the higher we got, but the climbing remained easy to the rocky summit. It was great to finally be standing on Bard and the views of the surrounding peaks were fantastic, especially that of Torreys and Grays.

Climbing Bard over easy terrain.
Getting more rugged.
Looking back at Robeson and Englemann.
Nearing the summit.
Leo on Bard summit.
Torreys and Grays.
Robeson and Englemann again.
Ridge to Parnassus.

With my main goal accomplished I had a decision to make on my descent route. My original plan was to get Bard and then quickly head back over Englemann and down it's NW ridge to the trailhead for a quick day. Now, I'm looking at the traverse to Parnassus and it looks fun. I hadn't done it before, so I'm thinking maybe I'll head that way instead. I figured I might as well complete the loop (minus Englemann). This route might end up taking a little longer, but there looked to be a good descent route off Woods Mountain down a mining road. Either way, I had the time and the weather was perfect, so Parnassus was next.

Leo is checking out Parnassus as we start our descent.

With my mind made up we descended off Bard following a nice trail. Surprisingly, we past two separate solo climbers going the opposite direction. The distance to Parnassus from Bard is approximately 1 mile over mostly easy terrain. We did get into a short talus hop as we approached the summit, but otherwise, we stayed mostly on a nice trail and made the summit in good time.

Following Leo on a nice trail.
At the saddle.
Parnassus is hidden behind the false summit.
Typical terrain for the traverse to Parnassus.
Almost there!
On Parnassus summit looking back to Bard.

The climb to Parnassus went quickly and we enjoyed a nice break on our 3rd summit of the day. There was no wind to speak of and more great views of Torreys and Grays. We ended up lingering much longer than we should have, but the rest was good and we did eventually get going. Woods Mountain was next and we descended northwest off Parnassus.

I -70 from Parnassus

The descent down Parnassus went quickly with a trail part of the way. We then crossed a big, wide saddle before starting up Woods. There was a nice trail to follow on the mellow slopes of this 12er and we were on the summit in no time. I'm not exactly sure that was the actual summit though. There was a register and a large cairn marker, but it looked like there was a higher point just to the west. I didn't really care though and started hiking northeast towards the old mining road I had seen from Parnassus. I hoped it would lead us back to the road we started on.

Looking back at Parnassus and Bard as we started climbing Woods.
Looking at our descent route off Woods.

After leaving Woods Mountain we skirted underneath a point to the northeast and found the old mining road. There were several switchbacks and some mining ruins and then the road just disappeared. I'm not sure where it went, but I didn't look around much. Leo and I instead descended a short gully and then were below treeline and started bushwacking through the forest. Luckily, there were game trails to follow making it easier. We eventually found the 4wd road we had started the day on and took this back to the car.

Old mining road. Parnassus is on the right and Bard the left.
Englemann (left) and Robeson (right).

My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
10/27/2021 09:06
One of my fav areas - thanks for posting this, Judd!

Bard Group
10/27/2021 12:15
Thanks! I agree Jay521, it's a great area and easy to access with fun 13ers.

Only 9.2 miles!
11/02/2021 06:55
Pretty sure if I did this it‘d be at least 11 miles. You should write a book with all your secret shortcuts!

Will E
11/02/2021 11:21
I was just following Leo.

Good Ol'
11/02/2021 11:26

Talus Cat
11/02/2021 20:30
I don‘t know who you are, but cats that climb mountains are my kind of kitty!

Will E
11/03/2021 00:59

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