Cameron, Lincoln and Bross Option
Directions: From Alma, CO head west on County Road 8, there is a small sign for Kite Lake. Soon you will enter the National Forest boundary and there will be more signs for Kite Lake. The road starts off rough but passable by most vehicles. As you get closer to Kite Lake, past the turn off for Windy Ridge, the road get rougher and rougher. 4WD or AWD high clearance vehicle is required. After you pass the pay station, there are numerous places to park on the side of the road, and hike the rest of the way to the Kite Lake Trailhead. Keep in mind that the parking at the trailhead fills up quickly so don't kill your vehicle trying to get there.
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The hike up to Mt. Lincoln is an incredible amount of fun. The effort is strenuous due to the altitude, but the hiking is relatively easy, the terrain is varied and otherworldly, and the final ridge hike is pure mountain joy. Most people include the hike to Lincoln as part of the Decalibron, see here, a 7.5 mile tour of the four 14ers on this ridge. It makes logical sense since the hike to Lincoln comprises more than half of the Decalibron loop. However, climbing Lincoln (and necessarily Cameron as well) makes for a wonderfully rewarding day hike.
From the Kite Lake Campground and trailhead, follow the obvious trail as it enters the basin and starts climbing up the southern slopes of Mt. Democrat and Mt. Cameron. There is a steep section at the start that passes by some mining ruins but after this spot the trail switchbacks gradually all the way to the Democrat/Cameron Saddle. The first really incredible views are from the saddle as it looks over the basin north of Democrat. Turn right (east) at the saddle to start the climb up to the summit of Mt. Cameron.
The hike up to Cameron starts out moderately but gets steeper as you go. The majority of the route stays to the south of the ridgeline, but once you reach the ridge, the views to the north take center stage. These views are amazing, you are looking down on Wheeler Lake Basin and across to Quandary with its class 3 west ridge in full view. In the background the jagged sawtooths of the Gore Range will get the saliva flowing while the Front Range makes up the eastern skyline.
Continue uphill on a steep section of rocky trail until you duck behind the ridge, this time on the northern face. From here the trail level’s out again and becomes incredibly fun. You climb again to the top of the ridge for great views of Mt. Bross across the basin. Follow the ridge until the ridge becomes a flat, wide, rolling hillside. When you reach the top and approach the flat summit of Cameron, the terrain feels like another world. The summit of Cameron itself is just a wind break on a wide open surface but you’ll soon see the enticing summit of Lincoln just to the east.
Head downhill to the Lincoln/Cameron Saddle where the Martian environment will become overwhelming. Head east towards the cinder cone shaped summit of Lincoln and begin climbing gradually to another ridgeline. This ridge will take you to the final Lincoln summit push which is rocky and may require some light scrambling. The Summit of Lincoln is small but the views are tremendous. The views back to Cameron and Lincoln are stunning as are the views in all directions. The list of 14ers that you can spot is too long to detail but you’ll see all the mountain ranges that surround the centrally located Mosquito Range and you can see peaks from Pikes Peak to the south to Snowmass and the Maroon Bells to the west to Mt. of the Holy Cross and Quandary to the North, and Grays and Torreys Peaks to the east.
The route back to Kite Lake can be done in two ways, you can either go back the way you came by re-summiting Cameron and dropping to the Democrat/Cameron saddle and Kite Lake or you can skirt to the south of Cameron and follow the trail past Mt. Bross and down the steep slopes of Mt. Bross to Kite Lake. For more info on Mt. Bross and the trail down, see here. Both ways are about the same distance, but the hike down to the Democrat/Cameron Saddle is a bit easier on the knees. Either way you choose is amazing and will result in the sense of accomplishment that only a 14er can impart.