Douglas County Highpoint Trip Report

Thunder Butte

Date: September 2, 2008
Author: Edward Earl

The entry for Thunder Butte in "Hiking Colorado's Summits" by Dave Covill and John Mitchler is generally good but some conditions have changed since the book was printed. Dave informed me that there was a fire in 2003.

I saw no power line 0.3 mile from the start of the hike, despite looking carefully for it. There is, however, an obscure power line at 0.5 mile which I noticed only on the return leg. This power line consists only of small utility poles with two wires strung along them. The power line runs through the broad saddle just before the ridge junction.

I could not find the rock cairn marking the ridge junction. There are a few natural outcrops in this area but nothing obviously man-made.

All in all, this is a "ridge route", not a "stream route". I tried to cut off some distance by crossing some side gullies of Shrewsbury Gulch but I still found myself back on the same main ridge where I was before. It is best to stick to the ridge crest until it leads you into the slope of Thunder Butte itself. I then temporarily descended into the gully that heads to the ~9060 foot saddle that lies 0.4 mile south-southeast of the summit of Thunder Butte. Unfortunately, this gully is now choked with immature cottonwoods that started growing after the fire. The going was difficult and after just a couple of minutes I bailed out, climbing slightly up the north side, then heading parallel to the gully when I found easier going. I gained the summit ridge about 100 feet above the saddle.

The report by Trapper Robbins mentions a gate on CR 9-J and a sign indicating possible private property concerns but I saw no such evidence of any access problems.