Peak(s):  Mt. Bancroft  -  13,250 feet
Parry Peak A  -  13,391 feet
Date Posted:  02/10/2023
Date Climbed:   09/05/2022
Author:  MaryinColorado
 Splitting the Loop: Bancroft and Parry   

Mt. Bancroft - 13,250' | Parry Peak A - 13,391'

In my apparent quest to do the “Flora group” 13ers as inefficiently as humanly possible, I got a wild hair to do Bancroft and Parry from Loch Lomond on a day when I needed something “outside the mainstream” but also accessible and reasonably short. It was also Labor Day, so naturally anywhere along the Front Range that is trailed and known was going to be a people festival, and I didn't want that. Could I have my cake - and more importantly, could I eat it, too?

To the Stats, We Go!

Round trip mileage = approximately 6.07 miles (this is with a minor detour to Lake Caroline)

Mile 1 = 827' gain
Mile 2 = 1,066' gain
Mile 3 = 433' gain
Mile 4 = 243' gain
Miles 5 & 6 = 62' gain

You may be asking yourself, "What are some of the benefits of doing Bancroft, Parry, and/or beyond from the Loch?"

  1. It's not as popular an area as nearby St. Mary's.
  2. Accessibility is somewhat inherently limited due to the true 4WD road to get there.
  3. It's also not nearly as crowded as starting off Berthoud Pass.

Ahh, Steuart Road...

Umm, I took no pictures of the road, apparently. I read a wide range of reviews about the conditions of Steuart Road. “Send it!” “A Corolla can make it.” (Let’s be honest, Corollas can make it anywhere if you believe!) “Only drive something rockin’ high clearance.” All I could do was try in my trusty Honda Pilot – Major Michael Collins – and be open to some possible road hiking.

Well, I made it all the way to the lake; however, I would NOT advise this of anybody who lacks off-roading skills. I’m not bragging, I’m just saying I’ve got decent experience under my belt, and sometimes it comes down to the driver. This road had a few different spots hellbent on taking out your car’s undercarriage if you’ll allow it.

For perspective, the vast majority of vehicles parked at the Loch were higher clearance vehicles like Jeeps and 4Runners. Me and my 7.3” clearance parked proudly between an FJ and a Tacoma. (Side note: driving back down was a bit more adventurous with the downhill momentum. I did grimace and “Oh, expletive!” a couple times thinking I’d made a horrible mistake.)

The Hike

Now begins the distinct pleasure of leaving everybody behind. Huzzah! Drop south from the Loch on an old road. The goal is to follow the road all the way to the ridge and then ditch it.

Bye bye, everybody!

You’ll come to a gate. Don’t worry, you’re not trespassing; go around that puppy. The road is a rocky start to the hike, and don’t worry, there are even more rocks in the near future.

"You shall not pass!" And yet, you shall.

Just before 11,800’, you’ll come to a vague intersection and see a vague path off to the right. That is the way to Lake Caroline. (I highly recommend it as a detour either on your way up or on your way down.) Continue on the path veering slightly left, and head up the hill.

My apologies for my poorly drawn arrows...

A little after 11,900’, you will have reached the point on the ridge where you’ll now want to turn ever-so-slightly northwest and just head straight up ridge proper until you get to the summit of Bancroft.


The end!

Just kidding. But in all honesty, there’s not really much to say about the route leading up to the summit other than “rocky interruptions, and remember the ridge curves”. It’s very straightforward how to stay on the ridge. If you get lost here, perhaps consider being more … indoorsy? My only caution, if I had one, is that Bancroft’s true summit is never visible, so you want to be mindful that the ridge curves gently northwesterly until the summit is reached.

The ridge terrain itself can feel a bit tedious albeit I found it to be more tedious on descent than on ascent. It alternates a fair bit between tundra and rocky stretches, and the rocky stretches have decent amounts of ankle twisters.

Lots of rocks
Just keep following the gentle curve. And no, that is NOT the summit. That is actually a "headwall", of sorts; more on that below.
Views of Parry and Eva appear.

There is a “headwall”, of sorts, around 12,800’. It’s the steepest and most tedious part of the route. Don’t approach it too far left or too far right. Remember, the ridge curves. Aim up the middle. When you pop over the top of it, you’ll finally set eyes on the true summit of Bancroft. I found it helpful to make visual note (picture) of where I popped up from in relation to the headwall since the terrain is broad enough and all looks the same. I didn’t trust myself to recognize where to go back down on the way back.

Things are getting pretty steep.
We interrupt this regularly scheduled programming for a view over to Grays and Torreys as well as one heck of a fabulous 13er, Square Top! (I know there are other peaks over there, but those are the ones that I care about the most.)
Once you're over that headwall, you finally see the true summit of Bancroft.

At last, you’ll reach the summit of sweet little Bancroft and gain some cool views, in the process! I stayed for a couple minutes and then began the trot over to Parry. Again, the way is super straightforward. You have eyes on your whole route from Bancroft, and in most places there’s a bit of a social trail to follow. Since Bancroft is unranked, you realize pretty quickly you’re not having to lose much elevation descending from it, hence you also won’t have much gain on the way back.

Looking over to Parry from Bancroft
Looking back at Bancroft and James on the way down to the saddle between Bancroft and Parry

The summit of Parry comes at you soon enough and along with it really nice views over to Eva and of course back at the likes of Bancroft and James.

Looking toward Eva and the great beyond
Looking back at Bancroft and James

Despite being too warm for my liking, it was a really nice weather day, so I stayed on Parry for a little bit before heading back. On Labor Day, I saw a total of three people on these peaks. Not bad, eh? When I got back to Bancroft, I thought about exploring the traverse between Bancroft and James, but you know, it was just kind of a lazy day for me, and I was happy with the trek as it was. I decided, though, I would make the small detour to Lake Caroline on my way back down.

Remember I mentioned about making visual note of my “re-entry point” above the headwall below Bancroft? Here’s what that looked like; I aimed between the two rocks.


On descent, I enjoyed looking a bit more closely at the geological offerings along the route. There is quite the variety of rocks in terms of shapes, sizes, and striation patterns (which always fascinates me). Some rocks even looked like wood. But the ones that glittered the most were these giant chunks of quartz with beautiful veins.

Beautiful, giant chunks of quartz

Did I get carried away and descend past where I actually meant to turn off the ridge for Lake Caroline? You bet I did. I was in a good mood! So I ended up just going back to that vague intersection and going up to Lake Caroline from there. It’s a pretty lake; worth the detour. There was only one other person there. Here's a view of Lake Caroline and the Loch:


Final Thoughts

It’s an uneventful day. I liked this approach a lot, honestly. I think if I wanted to run the whole ridge all the way to Flora, this is a great alternative to starting with Flora off Berthoud Pass. Or, if you want to be like me and simply desire not to knock out the four peaks in an efficient, all-in-one shot, this is a great way to split things up a bit.

And a Personal Note

For sentimental reasons, I feel like I need to dedicate this TR to my father with whom I was very close. He always loved reading anything I wrote - TRs, journal entries, etc. - about my hiking and climbing adventures and took his job as safety contact very seriously, referring to himself as "Communication [Comm] Central". Me being the first person in my family to dip a toe into mountaineering, it piqued his interest, and his knowledge grew along with mine as I progressed in all things 14ers and 13ers. True to form as a lifelong learner, he'd ask great questions and seek information. I even bought a shirt for him, too, mainly as a symbolic gesture, only to discover he actually wore it quite frequently where he lived (in Ohio). He liked to joke and say, "I keep hoping people will ask me about my shirt so I can tell them how many mountains I've climbed! Or at least about that 14-foot hill down the street." This is the first TR I've written since his passing about a month ago, and this trek took place not too long before he got sick. It feels strange ending this knowing he won't be asking to read it, but I find comfort in that he is enjoying better views than any of us now that he's on that highest mountain.

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

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 23 24 25 26 27 29

Comments or Questions
Nice tribute
02/11/2023 05:32
I'm sorry for your loss but I hope writing and sharing that closing is healing for you.

That was a nice weekend
02/12/2023 16:15
to be out in the mountains. I'm sorry to hear about your dad. Where in Ohio did he live? (I lived in Cleveland Heights for six months a long time ago.)

two lunches
love this
02/14/2023 15:00
beautiful TR and a very touching personal note at the end. archer and i will send our kindest thoughts and well-wishes to you and your family when we get around to this one-- hopefully in a few months here

Thank you
02/15/2023 21:18
...everybody. :-)

@d_baker - The writing and sharing definitely helps. Thanks for your kind words!
@Mtnman200 - Thank you, Mtnman... he lived in a suburb of Cincinnati.
@two lunches - Aww, thank you so much! That's really sweet. Archer will enjoy this trek - as will you!

No words
02/16/2023 09:47
While it is expected that parents depart before their children, it doesn't make it any easier to take. My heart goes out to you.

Ah, Jay521...
02/18/2023 15:56
...very sweet message, thank you. There is, indeed, some comfort in the natural order, but I sure could have used a few more years of his wisdom.

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