Just a preview of some of the wildflowers! Continue on to read about the hike and see more photos! Photo by Deb Stanley.
The hike starts on Shrine Pass, about 2.3 miles from Interstate 70 and the Vail Pass rest area. From the parking lot, walk the wide, dirt road toward the forest.
This road is used for stocking items at the Shrine Mountain Inn -- three huts/cabins in the area that are rented out by the 10th Mountain Division Hut Association. About a tenth of a mile from the parking lot, the road continues past a gate, but hikers turn left.
Here's the trail for hikers. I've seen this hike labeled Shrine Ridge. I've seen it labeled Shrine Mountain. While the sign here says Shrine Ridge, the Forest Service calls it Shrine Mountain.
While the trail is rated "easy to moderate," I would definitely call it moderate. The trail starts at 11,089 feet and it climbs up to 11,914 on the top of Shrine Mountain. That'll get your heart pumping and your lungs working.
If you like wildflowers, you'll find yourself stopping -- a lot -- for photos.
As we walked, there were fields of wildflowers, especially about 0.7 miles from the trailhead. Here flowers filed the hillsides on both sides of the trail.
Yep, flowers covered the hillsides.
There were so many flowers you could frame them with the nearby trees and with old timber in the meadow.
Find log logs and other items to add more to your photos.
You could take pictures of the trail lined with flowers or use the wildflowers as foreground as you took photos of the distant mountain ranges.
The mountain ranges in the distance are also impressive.
About a mile from the trailhead, there was a trail split for guests of the Shrine Mountain Inn who wanted to cut back over to their lodging. For hikers, this is just a spot that tells you that you're about half-way to the top.
And don't worry, there are more flowers...
And more flowers...
The trail heads into the forest at 1.3 miles. However, you're not in the forest for long. An 1/8 of a mile later, you're back in a meadow with a steep ridge next to you. Yes, you're about to start climbing again.
The trail turns and follows the forest, then it begins to climb to the top of the ridge. In the neat .3 miles, you're going to gain about 225 feet in elevation. However, there are spots here when flowers fill the hillsides giving you lots of opportunities to stop and enjoy the scenery. There's also something new in this area -- red sandstone rock formations.
Include a formation or two to add something extra to your photos.
Suddenly, the lupine started putting on a show. Here I found an entire field of mainly lupines.
At the ridge, there were more flowers and in the distance, Mount of the Holy Cross.
According to the Forest Service, Shrine Mountain was named Shrine for its excellent view of the Mount of the Holy Cross.
Another great view of the mountain. Shrine Pass was originally a Ute Indian trail and later used by silver miners and settlers, the Forest Service's website says.
As you hike up Shrine Mountain, the flower show continues.
It's hard to believe, but the wildflowers up here were even better!
One view from the top of Shrine Mountain.