Cow Creek Canyon / McGraw Ranch trailhead Rock Climbing
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.
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
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics 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:
Featured Route For Cow Creek Canyon / McGraw Ranch trailhead
Peachtree Street 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Colorado
: Estes Park Valley
: ... : Pulpit Rock
The crux of this route is getting into the hand crack at the two foot pine.Boulder to some left-facing flakes. It takes good stoppers. Climb to the roof, step right up on the face instead of pulling the roof. Bindly place a hand-size cam, and balance your way left. This move can be made a lot harder. Once again, footwork's the key. Rap from tree or go to top and walk off....[more] Browse More Classics in Colorado
Pulpit Rock, per RMNP folks. This may be some of ...
|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.