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Hiking The Decalibron – One of Colorado’s Best 14er Loop Hikes

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Article Categories: Hiking
Article Tags: CO 14er | Colorado | Day Hikes

***IMPORTANT NOTE***

– The summit of Mount Bross is closed to the public. Read about this here: https://www.14ers.org/peaks/mosquito-range/mount-bross/. Starting Friday July 27th, 2023 the summit of Mount Democrat and Mount Lincoln were both reopened to the public.

The Decalibron is a 7.6 mile loop hike featuring four (three official) 14,000 foot peaks, Mount Democrat, Mount Cameron*, Mount Lincoln, and Mount Bross. This is probably the most efficient way to knock off a few peaks for peak-baggers. The views are incredible, and the high elevation trailhead at Kite Lake make the elevation gain of these peaks less demanding than most 14ers.

Difficulty – Intermediate
Distance –7.6 miles round trip (12.23 km)
Highest Point – 14,286 feet (4,354.4 m)
Elevation gain – 3,000 feet (914.4 m)
Duration – 6 to 8 hours (book time)
Hike Class: Class 2
Seasons – Year-round (caution and experience needed in winter – see below)
Trailhead Location – Kite Lake – 12,030 feet (directions below)

 

Trail Map

Decalibron-Trail-Map

Decalibron Trail Map

 

Trails

The below description is completing this loop in a clockwise direction. Hikers can choose to go in either direction.

Hikers will begin at the Kite Lake Parking Lot (directions below – $3 day fee applies).

Starting at the Kite Lake parking lot, cross a small stream network on some rocks. Angle left and continue up a moderate incline on a well traveled and maintained dirt path. Around .5 miles into the hike, the trail gets rockier and steeper. Hikers will continue the ascent with various switchbacks and reach the Democrat-Cameron Saddle at 13,400 feet 1.5 miles into the hike.

Turn left here to continue to the Mt. Democrat summit. This section of the trail gets steep, and features lots of loose rock. It is .4 miles from the saddle to a false summit, and .2 miles further, hikers will reach the Democrat summit.

After summiting, hikers will descend back to the Democrat-Cameron Saddle. At the saddle, continue straight.  It is .9 miles from the saddle to the summit of Cameron. The first .5 miles from the saddle is quite steep, but the trail is in decent condition. The last half mile to the summit of Cameron is relatively flat. The views are just incredible at all angles from here.

At the summit of Cameron, it is easy to see the entire trail all the way to Mount Lincoln. It is a gradual decline for .2 miles, before ascending to the highest point of this loop hike at the summit of Mount Lincoln. From here, hikers can easily see the entire path all the way to Mount Bross as well.

After summiting Lincoln, head back towards Mount Cameron, and bear left of the summit of Cameron to head towards Mount Bross. The next 1.5 miles contains easy to traverse trails to just below the summit of Mount Bross. This is privately owned land, so the trail does not go to the summit. You will see paths to the summit, even though this currently is not allowed by the landowners. It is a steep traverse up to the summit and back down, but only around .2 miles each way. Hikers should stay on the trails as old mines could be unstable.

The descent to Kite Lake from Mount Bross is rough. The trail is steep and features tons of loose rock and dirt. Caution should definitely be taken here. On the bright side, the views are absolutely stunning. The last .4 miles to the trailhead get a lot more gradual and are easy hiking.

 

Hiking in Winter

The entire Decalibron is done in winter, but accidents do happen. Avalanche risk is here. We recommend looking at full winter routes for these mountains before proceeding.

 

Camping Information

There are 5 tent sites available at the Kite Lake Campground. It also features toilets, parking at trailhead, and picnic tables. No water is available. The camping fee is $12. Information on camping can be found here. Kite lake is frequently fished.

 

Directions & Parking

The parking area has a $3 self service pay station. It fills up very quickly due to popularity. You will see cars lined up down the road to hike here.

 

Current Weather Conditions

Here is a detailed forecast for the next 4 days:

Alma, CO

This Afternoon
A chance of snow showers and patchy blowing snow before 5pm, then areas of blowing snow and a chance of snow showers. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 22. Wind chill values as low as -1. West wind 20 to 25 mph, with gusts as high as 40 mph. Chance of precipitation is 50%. New snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible.

Tonight
Areas of blowing snow and a chance of snow showers before 8pm, then snow showers likely and patchy blowing snow. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 7. Wind chill values as low as -7. West wind 15 to 20 mph, with gusts as high as 40 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New snow accumulation of 3 to 5 inches possible.

Thursday
A chance of snow showers before 11am, then a chance of snow showers and patchy blowing snow. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 13. Wind chill values as low as -11. West northwest wind around 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 50%. New snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible.

Thursday Night
A chance of snow showers before 11pm. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 0. Wind chill values as low as -19. West northwest wind around 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%. New snow accumulation of less than one inch possible.

Friday
Mostly sunny, with a high near 15. West northwest wind 15 to 25 mph, with gusts as high as 40 mph.

Friday Night
Mostly clear, with a low around 2. West northwest wind 15 to 20 mph.

Saturday
Mostly sunny, with a high near 22. West northwest wind 15 to 25 mph.

 

Additional Pictures

Looking back at Kite Lake

Looking back at Kite Lake

The Connection Between Mount Democrat and Mount Cameron

The Connection Between Mount Democrat and Mount Cameron

Views from Early on in Hike

Views from Early on in Hike

Views from Summit of Mount Democrat

Views from Summit of Mount Democrat

Views of Kite Lake While Ascending Mount Democrat

Views of Kite Lake While Ascending Mount Democrat

Mount Lincoln from Mount Bross

Mount Lincoln from Mount Bross

Pano Views Heading Down Mount Bross

Pano Views Heading Down Mount Bross

Summit Views on Mount Bross

Summit Views on Mount Bross

Trail on Scree Field Heading Down Mount Bross

Trail on Scree Field Heading Down Mount Bross

Views from Kite Lake

Views from Kite Lake

Waterfall at Base of Mount Bross

Waterfall at Base of Mount Bross

Abandoned Truck on Mount Bross

Abandoned Truck on Mount Bross

Max DesMarais

Max DesMarais

Max DesMarais is the founder of hikingandfishing.com. He has a passion for the outdoors and making outdoor education and adventure more accessible. Max is a published author for various outdoor adventure, travel, and marketing websites. He is an experienced hiker, backpacker, fly fisherman, trail runner, and spends his free time in the outdoors. These adventures allow him to test gear, learn new skills, and experience new places so that he can educate others. Max grew up hiking all around New Hampshire and New England. He became obsessed with the New Hampshire mountains, and the NH 48, where he guided hikes and trail runs in the White Mountains. Since moving out west, Max has continued his frequent adventures in the mountains, always testing gear, learning skills, gaining experience, and building his endurance for outdoor sports. You can read more about his experience here: hikingandfishing/about

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