Peak(s):  Pikes Peak  -  14,110 feet
"Devils Playground Pk"  -  13,070 feet
"Little Pikes Pk"  -  13,363 feet
Date Posted:  10/05/2015
Modified:  10/06/2015
Date Climbed:   10/03/2015
Author:  ajlavigne
 Pikes from Crags TH - My first solo and longest route so far  

I know there is a lot of beta for Pikes, it being so easily accessible and not a technical climb by any means, but there were a few things I wanted to add to the reports I read from recent years. I apologize for bits of redundancy.

For starters, this trail is very easy to follow, but here are the few places I had to pay closer attention:
1. Starting at Crags TH (not from the campground), you'll cross a little bridge and ascend the hillside via switchbacks. At one of these, it looks like foot traffic has created an off-shoot toward the campground. Continue on the switchbacks by going left (ascent) to the northeast to stay on the trail. (Though if you find yourself in the campground I'd imagine following Fourmile Creek east would be simple enough).
2. As you contour to the east, the pipes that Bill Middlebrook's trip report describes are visible, and the signed trail junction shortly thereafter points you across the stream on a log bridge to continue toward Devil's Playground. You'll head E-SE and cross another log bridge within a few minutes before the trail steepens.
3. The only place you need to cross the road is at Devil's Playground - there is a crosswalk that guides you and a cable to step over to regain the trail. There were a couple (three?) instances where I wasn't comfortable walking the edge of the cliff outside the guardrail and jumped over to the shoulder of the road - where the trail touches the hairpin turns of the road and just before the summit at 14,030'. It's easy to pick the trail back up on the north/east side of the road after each one.
4. The summit pitch climbs about 400' up a slope covered in larger talus rock via switchbacks. The route is cairned, but many of them are not visible from the previous cairn. I went up via what I thought were the flattest/easiest sections and didn't wander off the cairned route by more than a few feet at any time. If you do, it's still only hard 2 or low 3, using your hands a bit will keep you comfortable.

Other mental notes I took:
1. I saw more cars than people in the AM. I passed a couple small groups and a solo male on the ascent, some of whom I passed again on the descent, but the trail itself was not very crowded. The summit was relatively empty other than the cog train patrons; Devil's Playground was empty on the ascent, but had a few groups on the descent with people who had driven up. However, getting back to the Crags TH area, I was reminded of a neighborhood park, where children, dogs, and cars were everywhere.
2. The hardest part of this route for me was the climb to the saddle before Devil's Playground from 11,200' to 12,700' in about a mile. I got calve cramps once on top of Pikes summit, but this stretch was the reason. Descending this portion of trail wasn't easy either, as there are stretches of loose dirt to contend with, resulting in a lot of side stepping.
3. I climbed to the high points on Little Pikes and Devil's Playground on the descent to make sure I could get Pikes before any weather rolled in. I didn't find a trail on Little Pikes, so I ascended from the E/NE, scrambled up the little summit block, and then descended the N/NE slope. Some of this is loose dirt, but the majority is tundra strewn with rock - try your best to rock-hop to limit damage. I succeeded in all but a few steps. Devil's Playground has a mix of different footpaths to the top. I ascended from the road on the E side, and descended SE to meet the trail.

I was really happy with this trip overall. Driving up the night before was a bit of an adventure with the dense fog along Hwy 24 resulting in a max speed of about 25 mph between the cliff dwellings and Divide. Car slept at the TH parking lot w/ restrooms. Some of the fog lingered the next day, making for some pretty cool cloud inversions at lower altitudes. I think the cold AM temps kept the route less crowded than most Saturdays probably are. This was my first solo and longest 14er route so far and I felt like I would have been fine with some additional mileage even after running most of the descent below tree-line. After walking off summit calve cramps, (and taking advantage of the facilities), my legs felt great - 24 hours later the calves are a bit sore and I did develop a blister on the ball of my foot between my big and second toes on the final leg of descent, something I'll have to keep in mind for longer trips. I've also come to terms with getting headaches about halfway through the descent on 14ers - not sure if it's the altitude or just from looking down at my feet so much - but taking a couple tylenol when i feel it coming on seems to do the trick.

Trip Details:
Crags TH - 9,980': Departed 6:45
Devil's Playground road crossing - 12,930': 8:45
Pikes Peak - 14,110': 10:15 (3:30 ascent)
30 minute summit break: 10:45
Little Pikes - 13,363': 11:20
Devil's Playground - 13,070': 12:00
Crags TH - 9,980': Arrived 1:20 (2:35 descent)
Total travel: 13.8 mi, 4,430'+, 6 h 5 m (6:35 car-to-car)



Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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 Comments or Questions
Mntn+Wave
Pikes planning
10/06/2015 12:12
Thanks for the updated route info. I’m planning on hitting Pikes from Crags TH this weekend depending on conditions...weather and wife!



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