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For more information about the publicly accessible peaks in this wonderful mountain playground, see Gerry’s book, Colorado’s Indian Peaks.

Summits of the City of Boulder’s Watershed

– Sorted by Elevation

Notes
Rank Elev
feet
Prom
feet
  Summit Name Parent Iso
miles
  Quadrangle Rg Sg
1 13,502 1,665   North Arapaho Pk Chiefs Head Pk 15.4   Monarch Lake FR IP
  13,397 97   South Arapaho Pk North Arapaho Pk 0.5   Monarch Lake FR IP
2 13,276 736   Kiowa Pk Navajo Pk 1.3   Ward FR BW
3 13,150 570   Arikaree Pk Kiowa Pk 0.8   Monarch Lake FR BW
4 13,038 338   “Old Baldy” North Arapaho Pk 0.7   Monarch Lake FR BW
  13,023 163   Niwot Ridge Navajo Pk 0.6   Monarch Lake FR BW
  12,820 240   “Deshawa” North Arapaho Pk 0.7   Monarch Lake FR BW
5 12,609 389   Albion, Mt Kiowa Pk 0.7   Ward FR BW
  12,310 10   Caribou BM “Old Baldy” 1.4   Ward FR IP

Notes by Gerry Roach

  1. This list’s scope is all the summits in or on the boundary of the City of Boulder’s Watershed.

  2. This list covers 9 summits, of which 5 are hard ranked.

  3. The abbreviations used in body of the Sg (Sub Range) Column are:
    • IP - Indian Peaks Wilderness Area
    • BW - City of Boulder Watershed

  4. The City of Boulder grants public access to 5 of the summits on this list, but denies public access to the other 4. The 5 summits that the public can travel to are North and South Arapaho, “Old Baldy”, Caribou BM and Niwot Ridge. The watershed boundary does not follow the ridge line surrounding the large cirque formed by the broad ridge running east from the Arapahos to the south and Niwot Ridge to the north, but rather takes a convoluted stair-step path along these ridges and along the Continental Divide in between them. The city’s logic to determine access also takes a convoluted path that follows neither the ridge line nor the actual stair-step boundary. The city grants access to some summits in the watershed and not others. This Byzantine blundering has confused hikers for more than a century. In an effort to help climbers unravel the mysteries of the city’s ponderous pontifications about their private preserve, I offer the following observations on each of the summits in or near the Boulder Watershed. I’m not as wise as those lawyer guys, and none of this is legal advice. Nothing on this page constitues a recommendation, it is just a recounting of my understanding of the city’s policy, which can change at any moment.
    • South Arapaho - Access Allowed - The summit of this peak is on a north-south portion of the stair-step boundary, but the normal route to the summit via Arapaho Saddle enters the watershed. The city has always granted public access to the Arapaho Saddle from the south, and once ran an annual city-sponsored hike there. The city allows the hike from Arapaho Saddle to the top of South Arapaho.
    • North Arapaho - Access Allowed - The summit of this peak is on the same north-south portion of stair-step boundary that holds the summit of South Arapaho. The famous ridge between South and North Arapaho is out of the watershed, and the traverse between these two summits is not controlled by the City of Boulder.
    • “Old Baldy” - Access Allowed - The summit of this ranked Thirteener is 0.35 mile east of Arapaho Saddle, and both the summit and the route from the Arapaho Saddle to the summit are in the watershed. Nevertheless, the city allows this hike.
    • Caribou BM - Access Allowed - This minor summit is 1.5 miles east of “Old Baldy” on the border of the watershed. A direct approach to Caribou BM from the south is outside of the watershed, but a hike up the Arapaho Saddle Trail from the Rainbow Lakes Trailhead enters the watershed. Nevertheless, the city allows this hike.
    • Navajo Peak - Access Allowed - The summit of this peak is just outside the watershed near the westernmost of the watershed’s two northwest corners. The normal route climbs from the saddle at the top of Airplane Gully to the summit on the south side of the ridge, and this route touches the watershed boundary at one point. Although they only control one point on it, and a single step to the north would remove the hiker from even this one point, the city graciously “allows” this hike.
    • Niwot Ridge - Access Allowed - The summit of Niwot Ridge is PT 13,023, which is 0.4 mile east of the saddle at the top of Airplane Gully. The summit is just within the watershed. The city allows the hike to this summit when approached from the north via Airplane Gully, and the ridge traverse from the saddle at the top of Airplane Gully.
    • “Deshawa” - Access Not Allowed - This summit is 0.7 mile northeast of North Arapaho on the Continental Divide, and due to the vagaries of the stair-step boundary, this summit is just within the watershed. An approach from the west via Wheeler Basin to the 12,340-foot saddle just north of “Deshawa” would be a legal hike, but the last 105 yards of the ridge traverse from there to the summit is a trespass. Why much greater transgressions into the watershed are allowed elsewhere, but that this 105 yards is off limits is one of the City’s secrets.
    • Arikaree - Access Not Allowed - This summit is 0.6 mile southeast of Navajo on the Continental Divide, and due to the vagaries of the stair-step boundary, this summit is just within the watershed. An approach from the west via Wheeler Basin to the 12,780-foot saddle just south of Arikaree would be a legal hike, but the last 130 yards of the ridge traverse from there to the summit is a trespass. Why much greater transgressions into the watershed are allowed elsewhere, but that this 130 yards is off limits is one of the City’s darkest secrets.
    • Kiowa - Access Not Allowed - This ranked Thirteener is 0.75 mile east of Arikaree, and is well within the watershed. Any approach to this summit is a trespass.
    • Albion - Access Not Allowed - This ranked Twelver is 0.75 mile southeast of Kiowa, and is near the center of the watershed. Any approach to this summit is a trespass.
Copyright © 2001-2017 by Gerry Roach. All Rights Reserved.
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