The pup-friendly Captain Mountain Trail is located within the Lincoln National Forest, with sections crossing into the Mount Evans Wilderness. A permit is required to hike here, but it's free at the trailhead, which is located across County Road 195 from the Bear Creek Guard Station. The trail and surrounding area are officially closed from January through June.
This trail features pawsome rock formations both on the route and towering into the sky. While Captain Mountain isn't the highest peak in the area, it's high and obvious enough to be a focal point for your hike. A higher peak, Rogers Peak, can be hiked via the saddle between the 2 mountains, and Porcupine Hill is also nearby via the saddle.
The gradual climb from the trailhead wanders through a lodgepole pine and aspen forest and skirts around the base of Captain Mountain. Meadows appear on the route as well, and feature lovely wildflowers in spring and summer. You and your pup may encounter elk drinking at a stream or foraging in the undergrowth near the edge of the forest. At the point where the trail begins the steep climb to the summit, be prepared for many rocks on the path, which takes you through a dense forest of spruce and fir. Above the treeline, the summit will appear ahead as a rocky cairn whose .25-mile final push is difficult and treacherous, but will reward you with fine views and interesting formations like potholes in the rock.
Returning to the Beaverdam Creek Canyon, you'll proceed to the Echo Lake Campground, where perhaps you and Fido will stay the night before returning to your vehicle 7 miles away at the trailhead. Dispersed camping is available along the trail as well. Please practice Leave No Trace principles and either bury waste in a deep trench, or be prepared to collect and carry it out. After snowfall, snowshoeing is a popular activity on this trail, although the climb to the summit is made even more dangerous by collections of ice and snow.
Whether you do this hike as a day trip or backpack for an overnight stay, you and your furry bestie will find the views on the ground, as well as the far vistas just furbulous!
Hunting is permitted near this trail from September 1 to November 1. Be sure to dress both yourself and your fur-baby in blaze orange during hunting season.