In Colorado, people summit the top of 14,000ft peaks (14er) as commonly as Californians hitting the beaches on hot summer days. Okay, maybe not quite, but I’ve never seen so many Patagonia-wearing-fit-instagram-couples on trails with their labradors until I go hiking in Colorado.
Climbing a 14er is a default summer activity that outdoor enthusiasts just have to do, and in Colorado, everyone is an outdoor enthusiast. Many even “collects” 14ers or attempt to climb all of the 14,000+ foot peaks in the state. It’s an achievement worth bragging for anyone who can accomplish as there are more than a few 14ers that are very technical and dangerous. But a true Coloradoan would ask “why only climb one? when you can just get four out of the way”. If you ask this question, then look no further than Lincoln, Democrats, Cameron and Bross because this short trail of mere 7.5 miles and 3,500ft of total elevation gain will give you four points on your 14ers tick list.
Let’s get to some details about the trails.
Trail: Democrat, Camera, Lincoln and Bross loop trail
Length: 7.5 miles, 3,700 feet of elevation gain.
Starting Point: Kite Lake Trailhead
Exit: Same point. This is a loop trail. If you do all four peaks, you will walk down to the initial parking spot. Alternatively you can always turn around and walk back but after you hike Lincoln, it will be shorter just finishing the loop trail.
Parking: Plenty of parking all along the dirt road going up to the parking lot. However, I HIGHLY recommend that you drive a 4 wheelers or at least a high clearance here. The road is very rough. If you have a smaller car, you will end up parking 500feet or more away from the starting point. Yay! more hiking!
Camping: A lot of people go there the night before and camp. This way you can wake up before sunrise and get the trail done before the afternoon storm.
Season: It can be done all year with proper gear but I did in shorts and hiking shoes in August. Summer is the most popular time to go.
Democrat, Cameron, Lincoln, and Bross are 4 individual peaks that are all connected via a single loop trail which makes them an attractive and exciting epic day out and the bragging right of having climbed four 14ers. The hiking overall is on a very well beaten path and the summits are bear which gives you amazing view all around through the hike. Also, the trail is DOG FRIENDLY. On a weekend, there could be hundreds of people and dozens of puppies on this trail. But I found that only Democrat and Cameron get really crowded. Then the other two trails are further apart, spacing out hikers better.
From the parking lot you can see the top of Democrat and Cameron. Although it looks close, the hike doesn’t feel like it. The last stretch going up to Democrat is a series of natural rock steps. It’s big pile of boulders and loose rocks stacking on top of each other, making the use of hands necessary at some parts. Once you get to the top, congratulation yourself because you’ve completed the hardest summit of the 4 peaks! The best part of this trail is that you get to go down and hike some more! Now that your engine is hot and your legs begin to feel jello, it’s time to push on! The rest of the hike has less elevation gain with a lot more flat walks and downhills.
My friend and I started hiking around 8ish with his not so young puppy. By this time, many people already finished the trail! Boss! But we’re lazy and can’t wake up early so we started late and risked the afternoon hail storm. I was so out of shape at this time having lived in Thailand for 2 years by this point. Bangkok is lower than sea level so my elevation red blood cells were all gone. I breathed HARD! but my legs are still fairly strong from climbing.
We got to the first peak, finally, after wasting so much time petting all the dogs along the way. The view is as majestic as I could have imagined. We didn’t waste much time and headed on to our second peak. Cameron is a more open and round peak giving you a great 360 perspective. At this point we could see the next two stops.
Moving on to the other peaks was more pleasant as trail was less steep and the hikers were more spaced out. But we did pay for the late start by getting hailed on a little bit toward the end. This was yet another amazing hike in Colorado. Nothing matches a clear blue sky day, lots of friendly folks and puppies and burning shins.