Mount Audubon is a 13,229 ft mountain located in the Indian Peaks Wilderness, Roosevelt National Forest. It is named after the famous 19th century painter and researcher of North American birds, John James Audubon. You may recognize the name from the National Audubon Society.
If you go to the top of the mountain, the hike is a strenuous 7.4 miles round from the Beaver Creek Trailhead, with 2,670 ft elevation gain. The strenuous nature of the hike comes from both the elevation gain and high altitude.
You start on Beaver Creek Trail. At about 1.7 miles from the trailhead, close to the treeline, you take a left onto the Mount Audubon Trail. You follow this trail for 2.4 miles all the way to the summit.
Due to elevation sickness, we only made it to about 12,900 ft, but were still able to enjoy most of the views that the trail has to offer.
Beaver Creek Trail
The trek starts out on Beaver Creek Trail, along which you climb about 1,000 ft over 1.7 miles.
There are multiple switchbacks on the rocky trail that take you up.
From the higher height you start to see some beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and lakes below.
Mitchell Lakes –
Roosevelt National Forest and Long Lake –
Even higher up, closer to the treeline, you start to see panoramas of the mountain range below to the east –
Mount Audubon Trail
After turning onto Mount Audubon Trail at about mile 1.7, you climb higher along the rocky trail above treeline for 2.4 miles to the summit.
Along the way, you start to see peeks of Longs Peak and Mount Meeker –
Near the Summit
As you get close to the summit, the views of the north side of Indian Peaks Wilderness and up into Rocky Mountain National Park are breathtaking. There is a small outcropping at 3.6 miles from the trailhead where you can look out at this vista before climbing the talus to the summit –
It was super windy that day, with wind gusts up to 80 mph. I nearly got knocked over a few times and it was difficult to place your feet on the rocks, because every time you stepped forward, the wind would push you a bit and your feet wouldn’t land where you expected. With the very rocky terrain, this made it quite uncomfortable to hike. I was constantly worried that I’d trip and injure my ankle.
Views from a bit higher up the mountain –
The cliffs in the middle are the cliffs that we saw to our side as we hiked and backpacked on Buchanan Pass Trail this summer, and mark the border between the Indian Peaks Wilderness and Rocky Mountain National Park –
The view out east and south –
It was about at 12,900 ft in elevation that elevation sickness really started to hit us – nausea and a strange tingling in the fingers. The cold was not helping, either. Even though we were decked out in full winter gear we were shivering. Between feeling sick and the strong wind gusts, we decided it would be best to turn around and head down the mountain. It’s always best to listen to your body and know your limits.
If you go to Mount Audubon or any other high elevation mountain, we highly recommend being prepared with appropriate clothing for cold and windy conditions.
Hiking Back Down
On the way down the wind was not hitting us in our faces any more, but it was pushing us forward, so we had to continue to be careful where we placed our feet on the rocky trail.
It took a bit of time to get down to an elevation where we were starting to feel normal again, but at least the views on the way down were beautiful as well!
A Hike for Experienced Hikers
Mount Audubon is a serious thirteener and we can only recommend it for experienced hikers. The breathtaking views near the summit are worth the climb. However, between the high winds and rocky trail, be prepared for some uncomfortable conditions to get there.
If you want to hike this mountain, we recommend working up to it by training at altitude. Make sure to be prepared for cold conditions and bring layers of clothing. If you experience altitude sickness on this hike or any other hike, always listen to your body, drink plenty of fluids, and head back down the mountain ASAP.