McQuaid Butte (W0C/SP-019) is a 9043-foot mountain near our cabin in Park County. Joyce/K0JJW and I activated it for Summits On The Air (SOTA) way back in 2013 but for some reason, we had not been back to it. The access road (Salt Creek Road, FS 435) is gated closed from January 1 to June 15 to protect wildlife habitat, so I suppose that is a factor.
Today, we decided to make a return trip to the summit and activate it on VHF/UHF. I remembered that Salt Creek Road can turn into a muddy mess but today it was dry and easily drivable with most vehicles. Salt Creek Road is accessed from Highway 285, south of Fairplay but north of Antero Junction.
There is a good parking spot shown on the map above at 38.95791, -106.00790. A trail begins here, heading east. It used to be 4WD road but it is now closed to motor vehicles. This trail/road heads east and then curves to the north and eventually disappears. About that time, you’ll encounter a fence that needs to be crossed as you make your way towards the summit (approaching from the west). There are pieces of a trail here and there but its mostly bushwacking up the side of the summit. In places, there is substantial downed timber that can be stepped over and around but its mildly annoying.
Our route turned out to be 1.3 miles one way with 650 vertical feet. We both quickly made enough QSOs to qualify for activator points, working W0BV, KD0MRC, K0MGL, WZ0N on 2m FM (and some on 70 cm). The weather was excellent, resulting in a fun SOTA activation in the Pike National Forest.
We will probably return again to this summit because it’s a nice hike that is easy to get to from our cabin. It would also be a great choice for someone passing through on Highways 24 or 285.
73 Bob K0NR