Mountain Project Logo
To save paper & ink, use the [Hide] controls next to photos and comments so you only print what you need.

Cow Creek Canyon / McGraw Ranch trailhead

Colorado > Estes Park Valley > Devil's Gulch & Dry G…
Warning Access Issue: DetailsDrop down


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.

Getting There

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.

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Interesting rock.<br>
One drainage further north.
[Hide Photo] Interesting rock. One drainage further north.
Pulpit Rock, per RMNP folks.<br>
This may be some of the closest to parking multi-pitch climbing in Estes Valley.
[Hide Photo] Pulpit Rock, per RMNP folks. This may be some of the closest to parking multi-pitch climbing in Estes Valley.