|Cow Creek Canyon / McGraw Ranch trailhead
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
['4 Stars',0],['3 Stars',8],['2 Stars',21],['1 Star',11],['Bomb',1]
Featured Route For Cow Creek Canyon / McGraw Ranch trailhead
Walk In The Park 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- HVS 4c CO
: Estes Park Valley
: ... : Pulpit Rock
This is the obvious line up the middle of Pulpit Rock's central chimney. It may have been done a long time ago, but details are lacking at this point. If you have more info, let me know and I can update this.There are a number of different ways to get up to the chimney. Currently either the left or right starts to Griff-Orama seem reasonable.P1. Climb Griff-Orama either up the crack to the tree, 8, or out right into a groove, back left into a slot of sorts, and up to...[more] Browse More Classics in CO
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|Photos of Cow Creek Canyon / McGraw Ranch trailhead Slideshow
One drainage further north.
|Comments on Cow Creek Canyon / McGraw Ranch trailhead
|By Charles Vernon|
From: Tucson, AZ
Dec 22, 2001
The hike to Sheep Mountain Rock is long and annoying enough that it's a good idea to try to do a least a couple of routes (all the routes are only about 2 and 1/2 pitches). Since the routes see very little traffic, guidebook descriptions should be taken with several grains of salt, as we found out. A nice, uncrowded place to climb though. Sheep Mt. is closed much of the year for raptor nesting.