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  • Writer's pictureJoanna Lee

Pettingell Peak

September 28, 2023

Pettingell Peak | 13,553 feet

8.7 miles; 3306 feet elevation gain

Total time: 4 hours 30 minutes

This hike starts on a well-known trail, Herman Gulch, that is popular a very a good reason. This trail is stunning all year round with magnificent wildflowers in the summer, golden aspens in the fall and a great snowshoeing route, albeit with avalanche danger on high risk days, in the winter. My timing was perfect for the leaves changing but I do recommend getting there early to avoid the crowds. I started at 6AM and didn't see anyone until the last 3 miles!

The first and last 3.25 miles are on a class one trail that is well maintained and easy to follow. The elevation gain is gradual until 12,200 feet when you reach the beautiful Herman Lake. Along the trail until this point you will see your objective multiple times. From the lake, head to the right where you will follow a steep gully that has a faint trail up above the lake. From this point, there is no trail for the remainder of the hike to the summit. I recommend having the .gpx file downloaded to help navigate the mixture of talus and alpine grassy terrain. I recommend staying to the left as you head directly up to the saddle for the easiest route. This segment is very steep but it does not exceed class two hiking. When you reach the saddle you have a few hundred feet left of climbing left, alternating between talus and a faint trail. The summit has stunning 360 degree views and is especially beautiful in the fall as you look down on all the bright colors in the valley.

I was the only one on the mountain this day and enjoyed a beautiful morning of solitude on the summit before making my way to admire the golden aspens that I missed in the dark on the ascent. I loved this hike and highly recommend it as an introduction to 'route finding'. It is very straightforward for the most part until the mile after the lake. It would be beautiful with wildflowers in the summer but I loved the views with the fall colors.

Hike Details:

Trailhead: accessible in any car.

Camping: no camping nearby.

Fees & Reservations: none.

Bathrooms: porta-potty at trailhead.

Trash: no garbage at the trailhead.

Dog-friendly: this route is dog friendly.

Recent Conditions: see peak conditions.

Forecast: (nearest peak)

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