Peak(s):  Paiute Pk  -  13,088 feet
Audubon, Mt  -  13,223 feet
Date Posted:  10/13/2020
Date Climbed:   10/10/2020
Author:  Peaks4Days
 Paiute + Audubon Clockwise Loop  

Did this trip on Oct. 10, 2020, or just after peak "leaf peeping" season. As such, the road into Brainard Recreation Area was packed. I ended up parking just outside of the park and hiking to the trail head (just over three miles one-way). Once you get to the trailhead, you have to decide if you are going to do this loop clockwise (Paiute 1st, Audubon 2nd) or counter-clockwise (Audubon 1st, Paiute 2nd). I'd strongly recommend clockwise - the southern slopes of Paiute are relatively steep and can be quite loose, therefore ascending this is safer than descending it.

Doing the clockwise loop, I started at the "Mitchell Lake" trailhead. This is a well-established trail past Mitchell Lake and then up to Blue Lake. Once past Blue Lake, there is no good trail and you will have to find your own route.

Standing on the east bank of Blue Lake looking west. Mt. Toll is visible on the left, while the false summit of Paiute is just right of center.

The first point to get to is the "Upper" Blue Lake. Once at "Upper" Blue Lake, the ridge to get up Paiute is apparent on the left/west side of "Upper" Blue Lake. About 1/3 up this ridge, you have the option of going up a sandy gully or climbing some steeper rocks to climber's right. I went on the rocks and think this was the right choice. There are a few Class 3 moves going up, but nothing too hard, and certainly more enjoyable than the sandy gully.

Looking at "Upper" Blue Lake
The sandy gully is visible in the center. I found climbing the larger rocks just to the right of the gully to be the best option.

This ridge will end up taking you all the way to a (very near) false summit for Paiute Peak. The true summit is just a bit farther west with a bit of a notch in between.

Crossing the small notch from the false summit of Paiute to the true summit

Once at the summit, there are stunning views of the Indian Peaks to the south, while Longs Peak is visible to the north.

From the summit of Paiute looking south to the Indian Peaks

From here, the descent and subsequent ascent to Audubon is not bad, nothing more then "2+" in my opinion, and certainly easier than the climb up the rocks adjacent to the sandy gully. The descent off Audubon down back to the parking lot is even easier, although long.

On the summit of Paiute looking east towards Audubon and the connecting ridge.

My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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 Comments or Questions

Well done
10/14/2020 14:06
I climbed Paiute via your suggested line. It is a classic. Thank you for sharing. This brought up more great 13er memories

Nice report
10/22/2020 16:28
Thanks for posting this. i love to see photographs of the the IPW as it is such a beautiful place.


Great IPW TR!
11/17/2020 15:03
This looks like an amazing hiking experience, with lots of options for varying levels of climbing. I'll definitely be adding this to my climbing To Do List! Thank you for sharing!

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