Ypsilon Mountain (13,514′)

You’d be hard pressed to call Ypsilon Mountain a secret since it can be easily spotted from Fall River Road. However, many visitors to Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) may not look upon the mountain with the same passion the I did after climbing it earlier in the day. We enjoyed capturing different angles and vantage points with our eyes (and yes, camera) as we drove through the park that afternoon. Summiting a new mountain is one of the simple joys in life; right up there with capturing a rare Pokémon (is that still a thing?). A subconscious shift is always made in my mind after summiting a new mountain. You are suddenly a part of the mountain’s history and the mountain an element of your being. This is perhaps an extension of my Elevated Summit Theory, which you can read about in my Mt. Oklahoma post if you like.

Ypsilon Mountain was one of my first hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park, which I felt was strange as the day went along. I grew up pretty close to RMNP in Boulder and it is a truly stunning area, so it is a wonder we didn’t make it up there more growing up. It makes perfect sense when I reflect on my quest to climb 14ers over the years. My Dad and I discussed our relative lack of visits to RMNP as well; he mentioned that the summer crowds get pretty crazy at times as well, which deterred us on occasion. Rocky Mountain National Park typically receives over 3 million visitors annually, which can be a bit overwhelming on a peak visitation day. We visited the park a little past the busy season (Sept. 12th) and there were still a considerable number of other visitors, but certainly not an overwhelming amount.

The prior paragraph is by no means meant to discourage one from visiting RMNP of course; it is an awesome place with lots of great hikes and incredible views. The vast majority of the traffic in RMNP is also concentrated in a few specific areas. Ypsilon is definitely not as far off the beaten path as many other options in the park, but it is good option for a more adventurous day hike. We started at the Chapin Pass Trailhead just off Old Fall River Road.

The mention of Chapin Pass suddenly reminds me that our trek to the top of Ypsilon stopped by Mount Chapin (12,454’) and Mount Chiquita (13,069’) first. My memory from September 2015 is letting me down slightly, but I think Mount Chapin is more a brief detour than notable summit. In fact, I’m not even sure if we ventured to the top of Chapin (I’ll have to ask my Dad who I shared the hike with). Fear not though, Mount Chiquita and Ypsilon Mountain did not disappoint!

Well, I think it is right time we dive into a picture tour of day’s hike:

Part way over to Mount Chiquita with Longs Peak in the background
Ypsilon is in the center of the frame…Mount Chapin is up to the right
A glimpse of Spectacle Lakes down a chute on the way to Ypsilon
A common sight in the high country: a Ptarmigan
Ypsilon Mountain from high on the ridge
My Dad and I just down from Ypsilon Mountain’s summit
Spectacles Lakes and Longs Peak
A look at the far more rugged ridge route to the summit
Zoomed in on the alternate ridge route…it was fun to watch a man in a kilt attack this route across the way
Longs Peak with Fall River Road slicing through about halfway
Spectacle Lakes
Looking back at Mount Chiquita and of course Longs Peak

As you can see, the views from Ypsilon Mountain are gorgeous and varied: Highlighting the panorama is a fantastic view of Long’s Peak, Estes Park, and the sun sparkling off Spectacles Lakes. However, the vista also left another indelible impression that is not to be discounted; there is a whole new world of mountains out there waiting to be explored. As I mentioned earlier, this was one of my first times hiking in RMNP, so it was inspiring to see the wide array of peaks surrounding us. Ypsilon Mountain is centrally located in the Mummy Range, so it is easy to get wrapped in up the affluence of nearby peaks. A look to the north further expands one’s sense of wonder as you gaze upon the Medicine Bow and Never Summer Ranges. In fact, this introduction was a significant reason why I jumped at the opportunity to run the Never Summer 100k a few years later (Check out my recap of that epic day in my Race Reports section).

Up to the North
Up to the North…this picture really does do it justice

Unfortunately, I didn’t take as many pictures of the surrounding ranges. However, I assure you that Ypsilon Mountain’s central location provided a great deal of inspiration for me. The remaining pictures are from our drive through Rocky Mountain National Park (up Old Fall River Road and then down around Fall River Road).

A marmot basking in the sun
A good overview of the day’s peaks from the top of Old Fall River Road (I believe). Start at the middle of the picture (right to left you can see Mount Ypsilon, Mount Chiquita, and Mount Chapin)
Longs Peak from Fall River Road
Ypsilon Mountain from Fall River Road
One more before headed back to Estes Park

img_1295Upon their triumphant return of our heroes (um, my Dad and I) to civilization, there was much rejoicing as they chilled in the crisp mountain air alongside the river with delicious milkshakes. The post hike milkshake is a tradition that is near and dear to my heart. As I’ve grown more hairs on my chest, a celebratory pint has been known to infiltrate the revelry as well. Even so, the milkshake remains at the pinnacle of my post hike refreshment pyramid, which is apparently a thing now:


Sorry, no GPS tracks. Until recently I never recorded tracks on my hike.

Happy Trails,