On Sept. 3, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Wilderness Act into law. Since then, four wilderness areas have been established in Grand County that are managed by the U.S. Forest Service’s Sulphur Ranger District.: Indian Peaks, Never Summer, Byers Peak and Vasquez Peak.
Calendar of Events
Grand County Wilderness Group and the U.S. Forest Service’s Sulphur Ranger District are hosting a variety of events this season to celebrate 50 years of wilderness. A full listing of events is available at GCWG.org. August’s events include:
Aug. 10: Walk for Wilderness. This hike will be a great opportunity to share the wilderness with any children in your life. Meet at 9 a.m. at Hideaway Park in Winter Park.
Aug. 13- 16: Reroute of Columbine Lake Trail. Come for a day or camp overnight and lend a hand in rerouting a half-mile section of the Columbine Lake Trail and restoring meadow habitat. Contact GCWG.org.
Aug 24: Grand County Wilderness Group Annual Picnic. Starting at 5:30 p.m. the Double AA Bar Barn. Come celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act and the 20th Anniversary of the Wilderness Group. Contact GCWG.org.
Byers Peak Wilderness
Standing at 12,804 feet, Byers Peak is a distinct feature on the landscape of Grand County, visible from Granby to Winter Park. Surrounding that crag is more than 8,801 acres of Wilderness, more than half of which stands above treeline. Far from any roads, Byers Peak Wilderness, designated in 1993, is home to mountain goats, ptarmigan and marmots.
Although comparatively small, this wilderness area includes several scenic lakes and some 23 miles of trail offer visitors some of the finest ridge hiking in the state. Byers Peak Trail traverses the area north to south from Bottle Pass to Saint Louis Peak almost entirely through the alpine tundra. An ascent to the summit, an 8.8-mile round-trip bike/hike (1.9 miles of biking and 2.5 miles of hiking each way from the trailhead), offers views of the county well worth the effort. On the lower flanks of the mountain, Engelmann spruce and subalpine fir forests provide habitat for elk, mule deer, snowshoe hair and possibly even the elusive lynx.
“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity ...”