Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Midland Hill - Buena Vista

Amazing Collegiate Peaks view
Trailhead Elevation: 7,923 ft.
Summit Elevation: 9,556 ft.
Distance: 5.12 mi. (my Forerunner 230)
Elevation Gain: 1627 ft. (my GPS)
Start Time: 9:12am
End Time: 12:22pm

Trip Report:
We had hiked the Barbara Whipple trails along the Arkansas River a few times now and enjoy them as a wonderful local Buena Vista hike. They instantly provide beautiful views of the Arkansas River Valley. Today, with time at our disposal we decided to up the ante and hike above the Whipple Trails and up to Midland Hill. It was all well-marked trail and so we just needed to follow along. Our main obstacle today would be the sun and rising temps. We were quickly at 80 degrees and sunny, dry terrain so sun protection was a must.

The black dirt section we encountered
We hit the trails shortly after 9a and follow the Midland Trail signs up to Country Road 304. At the road intersection there is good signage on the east (upper) side of the road to continue up the hill for Midland Hill. Shortly after the intersection we encountered a section junction where the bikes are supposed to exit and head north on the "Broken Boyfriend" route. It was in this area that we encountered a small area of fine black sandy dirt which intrigued us as to its origin. You would have thought it was volcanic by nature except it was the only part of this area that looked like it. My father surmised it may have been due to the railroads that used to be in this area.

Arkansas River
The trail remained easy to follow and was mostly single-track meandering its way up the hill. At first it was mostly an ascending traverse heading southeastward. The trail gained a gully which it then ascended with many-a-switchback. The trail was quite rocky at times so you had to watch your footing. This would have been fairly difficult for trail runners to keep a strong pace with the technical nature of it. The route finally topped out at a saddle area about 250 feet short of the summit. It provided a few good views off to the east. A few more switchbacks and a trail that wrapped around the summit area to its southeast side and we were on the top. We summitted in an hour and 35 minutes.

Mt. Princeton and the Arkansas River Valley
The views of the Arkansas River Valley and the Collegiate Peaks were superb and the cloud display was the icing on the cake to this wondrous sight. We enjoyed about 10 minutes on top while making radio contact with my mother. She had hiked with us up to the country road and then headed back to the car. She was off grocery shopping while we were on top. We took it easy on the descent as my father's aging knees pretty much require. The rocky trail also required care in avoiding twisted ankles and falls. When we made it back down to the country road the Whipple Trail section allowed us a little more increased pace. We were back to the river and the trailhead with a 1:26 descent. We agreed the Midland Hill trail was a wonderful hike and offered great views for the effort put in. It makes for a fairly easy local hike for Buena Vista with quick rewards.

Summit pano of Buena Vista and the Arkansas River Valley

Buena Vista and the area of the Rental House

Another beautiful shot of Mt. Princeton


I have a track and waypoints from the hike all contained in a KML file that you are welcome to download and use (at your own risk).  

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