This two-mile trek to the summit takes the climber past ruins of old silver mines and rusty equipment as well as fields of alpine flowers and sweeping views.The two-mile long trail to the summit of Mount Democrat (14,148 feet) begins at Kite Lake some fourteen miles northwest of Fairplay, Colorado via the town of Alma and a rugged jeep road. There is no there way to get here other than a four-wheel drive SUV where there is ample parking for over sixty vehicles. The starting point of the Mount Democrat Trail is at 12,000 feet above sea level. Acclimated hikers should sign the trail register just beyond Kite Lake.
The Best Times to Climb Mount Democrat are Limited
The best times to climb Mount Democrat are from late June through very early September. Be aware that at elevations this high, it can snow any day of the year. The worst times to climb this mountain would be from mid-September through most of June. There are no man-made hazards on this trail, but the hiker should be wary of getting altitude sickness and headaches, so it is best to spend several days in Fairplay to acclimate. In order to avoid afternoon thunderstorms, the climber should begin his hike no later than seven o’clock in the morning. Once he is under way, the hiker will soon become aware that this terrain was heavily mined back in the 1860s through the early twentieth century. High above tree line, the ruins of mining shafts and rusty old equipment can easily be seen.
Southern Miners Named Mount Democrat
After the Civil War many southerners came up to Colorado in search of gold and silver. The Mosquito Range with Mount Democrat became quite a haven for these miners. They chose the name “Democrat” to show their opposition to President Abraham Lincoln. The climber should take time to gain a close view of trail-side ruins of cabins, mining shafts and old boilers and separators. Once beyond the mining area, the climber will begin going up a very steep trail that switches back and forth through a profusion of alpine flowers including king’s crown, paintbrush, phlox, and bright yellow alpine avens. Jet-black ravens usually circle above the climber with loud squawks echoing through the mountains.
From Cameron-Democrat Saddle the Trail Climbs a Sheer Angles to Summit at 14,148 Feet
It is best to take a rest at the saddle separating Mounts Democrat and Cameron where there are magnificent views back down to Kite Lake (shaped like a kite) and to the higher peaks above. If the climber is ambitious, she may elect to climb Cameron Peak one mile on the trail to the right before or after climbing Democrat. From here the hiker has about a mile of trail to the left of the saddle before she stands on the summit. The trail becomes quite rocky and seems to stretch on forever with a false summit and a broad snowfield to cross before the climber ascends a rocky knob to stand on the very summit of Democrat.
From here the climber can see westward to the Sawatch Range with the snowy peaks of Princeton, Yale and Harvard. To the east in the distance looms Pikes Peak. The hike takes up the better part of the day with a vertical gain of 2,148 feet or slightly over a thousand vertical feet per mile. Bring sufficient water as there are no water sources on the trail nor are there any rest room facilities. A map can be obtained at U.S. Forest Service Headquarters in Fairplay or downloaded from USGS website Alma/Climax Quad.