From the town of Alma, take Kite Lake road for approximately 6 miles on a partial maintained dirt road. Most 2WD will make it, but the road can be washboarded and rather steep in the later miles. There are few camping places down this road, and private property is frequent. Kite Lake Campground may offer limited camping places near the end of the road.
From the parking lot, continue on the trail as if the road kept going straight (north). Kite Lake will be on your immediate left. The other trail that leaves the parking lot headed west will not connect to this route. Cross a small stream. Rocks are placed to keep your feet dry. The trail will kick up a grade pretty quickly, and start climbing around old mine ruins. There will be a few switchbacks as you gain.
At 13,365ft/mile 1.33, you’ll reach the saddle between Mt. Democrat and Mt. Cameron. A mine ruin will sit just beneath you. This point on the saddle will be used as a reference later in the description. Continue up to the left to follow the ridge to Democrat. The trail is occasionally hard to follow, and contains lots of large rocks and big steps, though is class 2 at most.
Democrat’s summit overlooks the Climax Mine area, the Arkansas River, and has views of Leadville and Mt. Sherman in the close distance. Return back the same way to the aforementioned intersection point on the saddle. From that point, stay left (northwest), following the trail out toward Cameron Peak. Though the trail gets steep, it is way smoother than Democrat and has better footing. Plan for a bit quicker movement in general from here.
You’ll walk across the flat summit of Cameron at mile 3.3. At mile 3.6/14,100ft you’ll reach the dip of the Cameron-Lincoln saddle, which is very flat (football, anybody?). You’ll return to this point in a moment. Mt. Lincoln’s summit is ahead near mile 3.9. Return back to the Cameron-Lincoln saddle’s intersection and head left.
The trail will be evident as it faces Mt. Bross. The summit of Bross is privately owned, and marked accordingly. The proper Lincoln-Bross trail does not summit, but winds beneath it. Summit at your own risk. If you summit, return back to the Lincon-Bross trail just beneath, and continue clockwise/right to begin your descent to Kite Lake. The trail is a mix of dirt and scree. When it splits, head right to follow a ridge down, keeping a drainage valley on your left. Congrats on your four summits!
Climbing your first mountain or 14er is an exciting and rewarding experience! You’ll get the achievement of seeing the world from above and the feel-goods of the endorphins from the exercise. However, the mountains aren’t a walk in the park, and getting down is mandatory. Some situations require extra caution and a little know how. With a bit of preparation, you’ll be able to get to the summit and back safely.
Whether you are training for a race or simply indulging in all the wilderness has to offer, there are a variety of factors, some constant, and some changing, that are likely to have an impact on your journey. Knowing these factors can help ensure your safety and get you back to the trailhead safely.