Grays Peak is the highest mountain in the Front Range of the Southern Rocky Mountains in the U.S. State of Colorado. It is one of 54 fourteeners (mountains of over 14,000 feet (4,268 m) in elevation) in Colorado. Its nearest major city is Denver. The first man to ascend Grays Peak, botanist Charles C. Parry, named the peak for his botanist colleague Asa Gray. Gray actually did not see the peak until 1872, 11 years later. It is nearly always mentioned in conjunction with nearby Torreys Peak. Grays Peak is located on the Continental Divide, as well as the boundary between Clear Creek County and Summit County. Its summit is the highest point exactly on the Continental Divide. (There are higher summits, such as Mount Elbert, which are near the Divide.)
Like the other fourteeners nearby, Grays Peak is considered to be an easy hike by fourteener standards, and is very popular among weekend climbers. Often a climb to the summit of Grays Peak is accompanied by continuing on to Torreys Peak, less than a mile away. The main trail, Grays Peak Trail, departs from Stevens Gulch. To get to the Stevens Gulch Trailhead, take I-70 west from Denver about 50 miles (80 km) to Bakerville Road, exit 221. From there, take Stevens Gulch Road south about 2.5 miles (4 km) to the trailhead. As of the summer of 2009, Steven's Gulch Road is still open for traffic, but is no longer maintained.
With cuts in the road over 2 feet deep and large stones in the path, travel to the trailhead is only feasible for high-clearance four-wheel drive vehicles, motorcycles or All-terrain vehicles. From the trailhead, it is a hike of about 3.5 miles (5.6 km) and a climb of 3,040 feet (927 m). The trail, well-marked and well-trodden, begins by following the gulch for a slow rise in elevation, before hitting the steeper slopes. The summit includes a very small U-Shaped rock shelter where a log book is maintained.
Extensive views stretch south to Pike's Peak and the San Luis Valley, east to the Great Plains, West to Silverthorne, and north to Longs Peak and Rocky Mountain National Park. At the climber's option, the trail continues from the summit north to Torreys Peak. The trail descends the saddle down to 13,707 ft (4,178 m) before climbing back to the summit of Torreys Peak at 14,267 ft (4,349 m).
Wildlife in the area includes mountain goat, pika, cougar or mountain lion, mule deer, elk, marmot, coyote, ptarmigan, American red squirrel, and gray jay or Canada jay. Wildflowers that bloom in the tundra area on the Continental Divide of the Americas include moss campion (Silene acaulis), alpine forget-me-not (Myosotis alpestris), sky pilot (Polemonium viscosum), sea pink, old-man-of-the-mountain (Asteraceae Rydbergia grandiflora), and mountain gentian (Gentiana). Below the tree-line, the blooms of monkshood or wolfsbane, blue columbine, fireweed, and paintbrush (Castilleja) can be found.
Highest Point in: Front Range
Elevation: 14,278 ft (4,352 m)