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Archive for the ‘Neota’ Category

Trip report 14

  • Points:  2
  • Trip Dates:  July, 1996
  • Wilderness Area:  Neota
  • Wilderness Size:  9,924 acres
  • Location:  Northern Colorado
  • Destination:  Head of Neota Creek and Iron Mountain Summit
  • Total Miles:  Approximately 6 miles
  • Duration:  1 night

Neota Wilderness

Iron Mountain

I was waking among the willows of Neota Creek after setting up camp at the head of the valley when something caught the corner of my eye.  I looked over and caught the suspicious gaze of a HUGE bull elk about 30 yards away.  I didn’t count the points on the antlers but it was certainly five or six on each side.

The old elk stood there for a few moments, only his giant head and antlers visible above the brush.  He sized me up and then decided he would rather get back into the trees.  With a snort and a swing of the massive head, he turned and galloped across the meadow and into the forest.  I could hear the thumps of his hooves on the valley floor as he ran.  It was a spectacular moment.

Sometimes great things come in small packages.  Neota is one of Colorado’s smallest wilderness areas.  It is wedged between Rocky Mountain National Park to the south, Rawah to the north and the Never Summer Wilderness to the southest.  All of these other areas receive much more attention than little Neota, which, in my view, increases the appeal of Neota as a wilderness destination.  This trip was over a weekend in August, within an hour-and-a-half of the Front Range area, and I never saw another person in the wilderness!

I was originally planning only a day hike into Neota, but changed my mind at the last minute and decided to overnight at the head of Neota Creek. The trail is faint and hard to follow, but generally easy as it gently rises to the head of tiny Neota Creek.

I set up a nice camp site in the forest with a veiw of the pristine meadow spread out below me and little cascades of the creek a few feet away.  It was a Saturday and I had not seen another person yet.  I spent the late afternoon fishing in the small creek and caught two 9-inch cutthroat which were delicious cooked over a small open campfire.

Next morning, Sunday, I decided to climbe to the top of 12,000 foot-plus Iron Mountain.  There is no trail so I chose a small cross-country loop route, first ascending the west side of the valley to the west ridge to the summit. 

Above timberline, I stopped to take in the scenery and spotted a strange looking rock that looked out of place.  the color was off–more brownish than the surrounding rocks.  Then it moved… I realized that it was a distant lone cow elk, grazing at timberline.

I proceeded up the steep ridge to the summit of the peak then descended down the opposite ridge.  For about a mile, this ridge stayed level above timberline making for a fantastic gentle ridge-walk.

I then dove back down the steep slope into the forest and back down to my campsite at the head of the meadow.  I packed up camp and a short 1.5 miles took me back out to the trailhead.  This little overnight trip remains one of my favorites.

The pictures above were found on the internet.

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