Mileage: 8.8 miles round trip
Altitude: 12,804 feet at summit
Elevation gain: 3,000 feet
To get there: From Highway 40 at the shopping center near the canter of Fraser, turn south on County Road 72 for 0.2 miles. Turn right on Fraser Parkway for 0.8 miles. Turn left on County Road 73 and follow it for 7.0 miles. There are a few side tracks, but stay on the main road. Make a right and follow the road 3.0 miles to the gate and trailhead. The road has a few potholes, but is suitable for two-wheel-drive vehicles.
We’ve lived in the Fraser Valley for a couple of weeks and already Byers Peak is nagging us. Every day we go out on our deck or walk along the Fraser River Trail or go to the post office and there it is, staring right us from the southwest edge of town. It only seems right that it be the first of the many mountains we will climb here.
We are alone on the dirt road to the trailhead; I think every time we drive on a dirt road now we are both remembering shaking down the washboard dirt roads in Kenya’s Samburu National Reserve. There is one car at the trailhead and the forest is quiet. We know we’ll be able to have some solitude on this trail. We hike the first 1.8 miles on a wide dirt road that is closed to cars and open to mountain bikers. We can see Byers- which was named after William Byers, the founder of Colorado’s first newspaper, The Rocky Mountain News- ahead and above and I am struggling to get my clothes and pack adjusted as we keep heading uphill. For some reason today I am uncomfortable and tired, practically dragging myself up the mountain. Where the dirt road ends, the narrow trail begins. Weaving in and out of the forest floor are sturdy roots, whose tall trees shade us as we climb toward the tundra. Some parts of the hike are made easier by switchbacks; others are made harder by steep, straight-shot inclines. About 1.5 miles up the narrow trail, we reach the treeless tundra. This last bit of trail to the summit leads us over multiple false summits. It also requires some mild rock scrambling. Alex reaches the summit before me and is beckoning me; he sees something. We walk down the back of the hill a little so I can see what he saw: a baby and mama mountain goat! Settling on the top for some lunch, Alex says, “I never knew there were so many mountains around here.” In every direction there are mountains as far as we can see. Long’s Peak- the only 14er north of Interstate 70- towers in the distance, reminding us where our old home was. We can see the weather station on the top of Berthoud Pass, two reservoirs, the towns of the Fraser Valley, and countless unidentifiable peaks and valleys.
A wave of excitement and disbelief rolls over me and a familiar thought crosses my mind: ‘We live here!’
Hiking details from http://www.summitpost.org/byers-peak/151200.