From the Niwot Ridge
Navajo Peak, located in the Indian Peaks Wilderness, is an awesome day trip. The trip is quite long (around 12-13 miles roundtrip, depending on your route) but is loaded with excitement and fantastic scenery, escpecially if you take the Niwot Ridge route.
Niwot Ridge is definitely not for the faint of heart as it includes some sections of exposed 4th class scrambling. So, this should not be your introduction to hiking in Colorado. If you’re not experienced, at least go with someone who is.
As you can tell, the morning was quite cloudy for us. This overcast weather stayed with us all day even providing a hailstorm and some distant yet frightening thunder on top of the peak.
We took sort of an unconventional route to get up to the ridge. In fact we were planning on doing Pawnee Peak and Mt. Toll this day, but the ridge and Navajo Peak looked too inviting. Plus, because we spent so much time off trail around the lake, we missed the turn-off to go to Pawnee Pass. So, instead of backtracking, we continued and decided to go up the ridge at the far side of the lake.
Once we got to the top of the ridge, we took a lunch break and surveyed our upcoming route. We knew the fun part of the trip was just about to begin. In fact, if you do Navajo from this route, the crux of the climb is definitely traversing the ridge. The climb up Navajo is actually quite easy in comparison.
We initially decided to go around the right side of the rock tower in the picture to the right, but that turned out to be to difficult. Instead, though it doesn’t really look easy, the easiest way is just to go over the top of the ridge for the entire route.
The final leg to the summit of Navajo Peak is actually quite easy compared to the ridge. It’s a no-brainer if you come up Airplane Gully. There is a bit of scrambling near the top of the tiny summit but it’s very easy. The best way to get to the top is to go in a clockwise around the back side of the summit when you’re about 50 below the top.