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Cow Creek Canyon is the valley directly north of and parallel to Lumpy Ridge which offers a more secluded alternative to other more popular crags in the Estes area. While the trail to Bridalveil Falls (3 1/2 miles up the Valley) sees quite a bit of traffic, hardy anyone comes here to climb, and odds are you'll be the only party on the canyon's main crag - Sheep Mountain Rock. Two other less notable formations offer climbing here: Rabbit Ears Rock and Kellog's Crag, which hold less than a handful of one-pitch routes each. The climbing here is similar to that found on Lumpy but with much less rock and therefore only a few exceptional routes, but it's still a worthy endeavor for those looking for something new in a beautiful and secluded setting.
From Estes Park, drive down Devil's Gulch road past Lumpy Ridge as if you're heading to Glen Haven. After about 4 1/2 miles at a major right-hand curve in the road, turn left onto a dirt road marked "McGraw Ranch Rd." and follow it to the old McGraw Ranch (which incidently sits below a large crag [Pulpit Rock, according to RMNP folks] whose name or climbing history I've never heard anyone discuss) which is now owned and being renovated by the Park Service. Parking is limited to the left side of the road just before the ranch, and on busy summer days can get a bit crowded. Hike west along the dirt road that runs through the ranch (although with the current renovation, there might be signs directing you to a detour) and follow it up the valley as if you're heading towards Bridalveil Falls where it eventually turns into a trail. In the distance you'll be able to see the eastern flank of Sheep Mountain Rock, located on the north side of the canyon about 2 miles up the trail. The other 2 crags are found on the the south side of the canyon at 1.5 and 2.3 miles respectively.
Cell phone reception
From some checking, it seems you can get a Verizon signal here, but you can't get a AT&T or Cricket signal here.
43 Total Routes
Browse More Classics in Cow Creek Canyon / McGraw Ranch trailhead
Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Cow Creek Canyon / McGraw Ranch trailhead:
Featured Route For Cow Creek Canyon / McGraw Ranch trailhead
Double Fantasy 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ E1 5a CO : Estes Park Valley : ... : Sheep Mountain Rock
Double Fantasy is a quality route with a unique and exciting first pitch (the crux). It's the left-most of Sheep Mountain's documented climbs and is distinguished by two opposing flakes which start about 50 feet off the deck. P1) Find the best way through the bulge right off the ground and work your way up and right before heading back left to the base of the opposing flakes. Stem up between them (10a crux near the top) and traverse up and right to a belay below a small roof. ~130'.P2) From the...[more] Browse More Classics in CO
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