Mount Sniktau

While researching hiking opportunities in Colorado on one of my phone applications, I spotted a trail running from US Highway 6 at Loveland Pass to the top of Mount Sniktau--a strange name for a mountain, I thought.  Nevertheless, the easy access and short approach made it an ideal candidate for a "rest day" hike, and after a string of fairly strenuous outings over back-to-back days, Zosia Zgolak and I were due for an easier trip when we arrived at Loveland Pass late in the afternoon on 8 July 2019.  Although we could have conceivably ascended Mount Sniktau that evening, we opted to relax and just enjoy the already beautiful views from the pass before retreating to nearby Pass Lake where we slept for the night.
Looks like it's shedding its winter fur. A fox wanders near the parking area at Loveland Pass.  In the distance is Arapahoe Basin Ski Area.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

We later saw it run off with a ground squirrel in its mouth! The fox does not seem perturbed by the attention it is getting from the many tourists at Loveland Pass.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

Zosia and I got up at a leisurely time the next morning on 9 July 2019, and we drove the short distance from Pass Lake to Loveland Pass where we commenced our ascent of Mount Sniktau.  As expected, there is nothing complicated about the trail which runs all the way from Loveland Pass to the top of the peak.  There are a couple of false summits along the way which entail a bit of elevation loss, but this minor annoyance is easily forgotten amidst the splendor of the panoramic views which are present from start to finish.  Reaching the summit truly felt effortless, and it is my opinion that, in terms of effort versus reward, Mount Sniktau probably offers the best "bang-for-your-buck" of any mountain in Colorado (and that includes drivable Mount Evans--the drive to Mount Sniktau is easier, there are less people here, and the surrounding scenery is way better).  The Loveland Pass environs have many other hiking options, and we could have easily extended our hike to the tops of several other ridges.  However, this being our "rest day", we were content to just take an extended break on top of Mount Sniktau before returning uneventfully to the pass and moving on.

It looks like there might have been a campground with toilet here at one time.

Pass Lake is located about a kilometre south of Loveland Pass.  The ascent route for Mount Sniktau climbs the ridge at right.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak


They should really put a vault toilet at the pass... Zosia climbs away from the trailhead at Loveland Pass.
Looks easy enough, but the initial climb is steeper than it looks. Zosia heads up the lower section of Mount Sniktau's southwest ridge which also happens to be along the Continental Divide.
Some parties climb Torreys and Grays from Loveland Pass. Torreys Peak and Grays Peak are already visible to the southeast from the trail.
This would be an awesome ski tour in winter! Zosia continues along the trail toward the second false summit.  The true summit is not visible here.
Doh! Gotta lose a bit of elevation here! The true summit finally comes into view from the second false summit.
Zosia is somewhere up ahead here, but it's extremely hard to spot her. The well-defined trail rises up the final slope before the summit.
So little effort for so much reward! Sonny and Zosia stand on the summit of Mount Sniktau (4031 metres).
Ground squirrels with ferocious teeth? The summit survey marker is a bit beat-up.
We are planning to climb Grays and Torreys tomorrow! Most prominent to the southeast are Torreys Peak (left) and Grizzly Peak (right).  The top of Grays Peak is barely visible above the right shoulder of Torreys Peak.
And look at all that great ski touring terrain above the tunnel! The eastern entrance of Eisenhower-Edwin C. Johnson Memorial Tunnel is visible to the west.  The tunnel is about 2.7 kilometres long and crosses under the Continental Divide.
A couple of the many neglected Colorado 'Thirteeners'. Notable peaks to the northwest include Hagar Mountain (left) and Pettingell Peak (right).
So many easy walk-ups around here! Mount Parnassus (centre) and Bard Peak (right) sit to the northeast.  Although it is hard to discern, Longs Peak is visible on the left horizon.

You can't see it, but it's very windy now!

Zosia leaves the summit of Mount Sniktau.


This place would be awesome for ski touring.

Zosia descends the final section of trail back to Loveland Pass.


Maybe the best bang-for-your-buck mountain in Colorado! Total Distance:  6.0 kilometres
Round-Trip Time:  3 hours 55 minutes
Net Elevation Gain:  462 metres

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