Elliott Ridge: A Miserable, but Spectacular Overnight
December 23, 2020

Elliott Ridge: A Miserable, but Spectacular Overnight – Technically Elliott Ridge is only 8 miles from my home, but with the trailhead a two hour drive away, I had never taken the time to go hike it. With nothing else really going on, I figured this was the year to finally check it out for an overnight backpack trip.

“Unique in Colorado, Elliott Ridge, on the west side of the Gore Range, consists of a broad, gentle ridge that runs above tree line for about 6 miles. Now a part of the Eagles Nest Wilderness Area, Elliott Ridge was used to graze sheep as long ago as the early 1900s. Some stone structures along the ridge may have been built as shelters by the sheepherders, though this is just speculation.” (Denver Post)

Elliott Ridge Eagles Nest Wilderness Vail

After 5 miles of hiking, I dropped into the headwaters of Cataract Creek and after unpacking and beginning to set up my tent, I was immediately swarmed by deet-immune mosquitos. The hoards were so bad, I rushed through the tent setup and just threw everything else in, diving in to retreat for the next few hours. But I hadn’t hiked all that way into a beautiful spot to stare at my tent walls until bed time so I decided to head up Meridian Peak, assuming the mosquitos would disappear at higher altitude… NOPE.

Had the sunset not been so promising for some epic colors, I would have just gone back to my tent, but instead, I spent the next three hours pacing back and forth on top of the mountain and for one of the first times I can remember, I hoped for some wind. It was brutal, but at least the sunset did turn out to be spectacular!

The next morning, I was able to shoot a mediocre cloudless sunrise, but the swarms of Mossies woke up and came in fast and heavy. I don’t think I’ve ever taken a came down so quickly; Just flinging gear into my pack to deal with later. I bugged out (heyo!) as quickly as I could.

Which is a shame… with gorgeous views of the jagged Gores to the east and the Sawatch Range to the southwest, it’s an incredibly beautiful hike. If it was quicker to get to, this would easily be a regular trek for me.

(As soon as I got home from this, I bought a bunch of Thermocell Mosquito Repellant gadgets to only find out that they don’t work at altitude, where I do all my backpacking. If you’re reading this and have some tricks other than deet (It didn’t work) and to cover up, I’m all ears!)

*If you think this spot is beautiful and you are going to try to visit it yourself, please remember that there are rules in the backcountry. Familiarize yourself with the leave no trace principles and make sure you’re aware of any fire restrictions in the area.*


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