|Ancient bristlecone pines are guardians of the alpine tundra|
Located above Squaw Pass Road in the foothills of Colorado's Front Range, Chief Mountain rises above the surrounding valleys to offer spectacular scenery from its rocky summit. The panoramic views begin with Mount Evans and the Continental Divide to the west, Longs Peak looms to the north and massive Pikes Peak can be seen to the south. Eastward you'll see Squaw Peak and the Evergreen Mountains.
What makes Chief Mountain special is its unique access to the wonderful world above the trees. After a quick hike through a dense forest of spruce and fir, the trees become stunted and windblown. Rare bristlecone pines are ancient guardians of this incredible ecosystem. The alpine tundra is a stunning expanse of blue sky, tiny wildflowers and harsh climate.
Relentless winds and frigid temperatures limit what plants can grow here. A patchwork mosaic of hardy vegetation clings to the rocky soil. Some plants take two or more years to produce flower buds, which survive below deep winter snows and bloom for just a few weeks each summer. The amazing environment is an adaptable place but we must tread lightly. Crushing footsteps can destroy the fragile plants, leaving the exposed soil to blow away and a centuries long remediation to recover.
|The hike begins in a dense forest|
|Panoramic views are spectacular|
|Chief Mountain's rocky summit|
|Mount Evans looms to the west|
|The tundra is a stunning expanse|
|Wildflowers bloom for just a few weeks each summer|
|Windblown, stunted and gnarled trees|
|Evergreen's mountains to the southeast|
|Chief Mountain is special|
|We must tread lightly|