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Cow Creek Canyon / McGraw Ranch trailhead

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Pulpit Rock Massif 
Rabbit Ears Rock 
Sheep Mountain Rock 

Cow Creek Canyon / McGraw Ranch trailhead Rock Climbing 

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Location: 40.4306, -105.5007 View Map  Incorrect?
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Administrators: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Kurt Johnson on Dec 21, 2001
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Interesting rock. One drainage further north.



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.

Climbing Season

For the Estes Park Valley area.

Weather station 3.4 miles from here

43 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',0],['3 Stars',8],['2 Stars',21],['1 Star',11],['Bomb',1]

Classic Climbing Routes in Cow Creek Canyon / McGraw Ranch trailhead

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Cow Creek Canyon / McGraw Ranch trailhead:
Gimmerton Corner   5.10b/c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Trad, 3 pitches, 350'   Sheep Mountain Rock
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Cow Creek Canyon / McGraw Ranch trailhead

Featured Route For Cow Creek Canyon / McGraw Ranch trailhead
Rock Climbing Photo: A topo of the route in red with the outline of the...

Crystal Highway 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b PG13  Colorado : Estes Park Valley : ... : Second Pew
This is a climb that is far better featured than it appears from a distance, thus significantly reducing its difficulty. There is some really nice, low-end to moderate climbing that makes this fun. In some places it reminds you of some of the better rock in Big Thompson Canyon, like Jug Dome, or a fresher Combat Rock.P1. Start in a left-facing offwidth (crux) with limited pro. Aim for a crack above. Connect this to the obvious, big, right-facing dihedral that protects with far smaller pro than...[more]   Browse More Classics in Colorado

Photos of Cow Creek Canyon / McGraw Ranch trailhead Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Pulpit Rock, per RMNP folks.  This may be some of ...
Pulpit Rock, per RMNP folks. This may be some of ...

Comments on Cow Creek Canyon / McGraw Ranch trailhead Add Comment
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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.

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