At an elevation of 13,739 feet, Ptarmigan Peak offers everything a high-country trekker could wish for in a climb (although it won’t succor those afflicted with the fourteener fever). The six-mile, 3,407-vertical-foot journey weaves through shimmering aspen groves, stands of hardy lodgepole pines, spruce and fir forests, and sagebrush meadows ringed with eye-catching wildflower blooms. Near the summit, on a vast stretch of open tundra, omnipresent cool winds howl; throw on another layer, because the view at this exposed spot is worth reveling in. On clear days, you’ll spy just about every peak in the region, including the entire Gore and Tenmile mountain ranges, and you can look down upon Lake Dillon as if it were a mere puddle. If you’re lucky, you’ll share the panorama with the resident elk herd—and no one else.
From I-70, take the Silverthorne exit and head north on Hwy 9. Turn right at the first traffic light (Rainbow Drive) and take the first right onto Tanglewood Lane, then go right on Ptarmigan Trail, which turns into dirt. Look for the parking lot on the right. The well-marked trail begins farther up the dirt road on the right.