I’ve looked at Parkview Mountain from the window of my childhood home for years. I can’t count how many times I’ve looked at the highest peak and wondered what it would be like to be up there looking back. I decided this was the year to make it happen. My mother, step father, sister and all our children have made the trek. Not just once but multiple times, so it was my turn.
My nephew Turner, graciously agreed to guide me up and most importantly BACK down the mountain. We met at the trailhead, just south of the Willow Creek Pass summit, mile marker 21. We drove up to the old gold mine location which is almost to tree line and started hiking from there. I’ve been told driving that far is “cheating the mountain” but I figured at this point in my life, “the mountain” already had the advantage.
For the most part, we followed the cairns for the Continental Divide Trail. It took about two and a half hours of hiking for me to make the summit, 12,296 feet. Turner could have made it in half the time, but he was patient and held back. Once on top the view was breathtaking! Even with the haze from distant forest fires, I could see in all directions. You can see Highway 125; Rand on the north side of the mountain and then the winding pass as it heads south to Granby. I could pick out familiar ranches, home sites and lakes, it truly was a beautiful view.
The lookout was in good condition considering it was built in 1916. I’ve been told it’s the only “bunker” style structure and second highest lookout elevation in the U.S. It had not been used since 1948. In August 1997, there was an attempt to rehabilitate the lookout and use it as a radio tower. My stepfather Don assisted the forest service during the rehab project and carried the antenna up to the lookout on his back. Unfortunately, the radio tower was unable to reach Steamboat so it was moved to Owl Mountain and the lookout was once again abandoned. Hikers leave their mark on the walls noting names, dates and comments. There was even a notation about watching the Great American Eclipse from the lookout last month. A recent party left a plastic bottle with pencil and paper so we left our “mark” there. We left the summit for the return trip down the trail which took about an hour.
The next day, I heard a childhood friend had died while hiking a Colorado 14ner. Had I known, I probably would have canceled the hike. But I’m sure that’s the last thing my friend would have wanted me to do. Thank you, Jamie, for being an inspiration to all of us! Thank you, Turner, a twenty-something agreeing to take a fifty-something on a hike!
Posted by: Chris Durant Jackson
Here's a link to a site with photos and information: