Cockscomb Trail 2nd Attempt

The rain cut our first attempt on Cockscomb short and, after the torrential downpours on Wednesday, we made our second attempt yesterday.


The hike took nearly 6 hours as opposed to the 2 hours on our first attempt. 7 miles on the trails and we ascended 531 feet. The 500 or so feet that we climbed up on Cockscomb Mountain was pretty much all at once. I’m still feeling that climb today.

We started the hike at the Aerie Trailhead. We took the Cockscombe Trail to Outer Limits and then we made the connection to Ground Control. Ground Control is the trail that takes you up the Cockscomb Mountain. Ground Control then reconnects to Cockscomb and we followed that loop all the way up to Aerie and then followed Aerie back to the trailhead.

Thursday was a much, much nicer day. Mostly sunny and warm. I took over 500 pictures on the hike and I won’t even attempt to share more than a few here. This post will mostly cover our climb up the Cockscomb Mountain.

For the past few hikes, we have been parking at the Aerie Trailhead. From this trailhead it is a relatively short hike over to the Bear Mountain and Fay Canyon Trailheads. The parking fills up first thing in the morning at those trailheads. The Aerie Trailhead remains very quiet. There are no crowds here and the trails are terrific.

This is the view from the Aerie Trailhead looking out towards Bear Mountain.

The hike began at the Cockscomb Trail marker. After the rain we noticed that the vegetation had really come alive.

Although the initial surges of runoff had long passed, there was evidence everywhere of the significant rainfall from Wednesday.

To get to the Ground Control trail we followed the Outer Limits trail. Ground Control. Outer Limits. Someone was having a bit of fun naming these trails.

The Outer Limits trail sits around 4,400 feet in elevation and winds its way around the Cockscomb Mountain. From this point in the trail the peaks of The Cockscomb do not appear that high even though they rise up to about 5,100 feet.

As we made the connection to the Ground Control Trail, we received a caution:

This uphill segment of trail is rocky, steep and has blind corners. Hikers use caution. Bikers and Equestrians not recommended.

I counted 5 exclamation marks on the sign. The US Forest Service must be serious!

Here is a short video that shows our climb up the mountain.

Here are a few photos that capture the ascent. The trail was narrow and there were numerous blind corners. And that can be a bit disconcerting on a steep climb as you are not quite sure which way the trail is going.

This shot provides a perspective. Lorraine is about 100 feet below me. And she is certainly getting close to the height of the surrounding mountains in the background.

We are getting closer to one of the peaks of the Cockscomb Mountain. There are several peaks but the one pictured below is readily accessible from the trail.

The trail, being very narrow, did encourage my sense of vertigo when I looked out over the edge. It is a long way down. Better not slip.

One of several peaks at the top. This one was not readily accessible from the trail.

A shot of Lorraine at the top of the mountain.

Another shot of Lorraine taken with my iPhone. We were both very happy to still be able to scale mountains at 66 years of age.

Loved the views from up here.

After taking it all in we began our descent. And the trail was certainly keeping us focused on our footing. Very steep with a lot of loose soil and rock.

Our hike continued for another 4 hours or so. Just as stunning but we decided to highlight the climb from yesterday in this post.

Here is the view of Bear Mountain as we returned to the trailhead.

Thankfully our car was still there as we were beginning to feel the effects of a long hike.

Such an awesome day.

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