“Summit four Fourteeners (Democrat, Cameron, Lincoln, and Bross) in one fell swoop.
— Tyler Prince
Lake · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife
"DeCaliBron" (Democrat, Cameron, Lincoln, Bross) provides an awesome way to do four Fourteeners in one easy day. The linkup involves a fairly steep run up Mt. Democrat, followed by a prolonged walk along several ridges.
Mt. Bross is on private property, so it cannot be legally summited. The trails and route shown here pass just below its summit and are on public land.
The land manager requires leashes for all dogs. You'll see many dogs and few leashes.
Need to Know
Expect to be above 13,000 ft for the majority of the day, and bring plenty of water. Like with any other run at this elevation, be prepared for alpine winds and weather. This route isn't all that long or technical, but if you aren't well adjusted to altitude you're likely to feel the effects of acute mountain sickness (AMS) more on this than on other easy Fourteeners.
While rocky and in some parts steep, DeCaliBron provides an excellent trail run for the sure-footed. Expect a 2.5-5 hr trip depending on your fitness and motivation.
Get to Alma on CO 9, south from Breckenridge or north from Fairplay. From downtown Alma (the highest unincorporated town in the USA), drive west on the Kite Lake road. It is marked with a small sign and is right in the middle of town (which is only about six blocks long). Pass through a residential area and drive 6 miles on a good but washboarded dirt road to Kite Lake. 2WD cars should suffice.
Pay to camp at Kite Lake, or camp a few yards down the road along the stream and camp for free.
Starting at the Kite Lake parking lot, cross a small stream network on some rocks. Angle left and continue up a slight incline on an excellent dirt trail. After about half a mile the grade begins to kick up as the trail gets rockier and turns around some switchbacks. Once coming up the first headwall, the trail straightens out but remains rocky. After a few more switchbacks, reach the Democrat-Cameron Saddle at 13,400 ft. There is an abandoned mine shaft to the left right at the saddle.
Turn left here to continue to the Mt. Democrat summit. From here the trail is steep and rocky, but remains along the ridge and is easy to follow. Reach a plateau around 13,900 ft and walk about 100 yds before coming to the summit block. Continue about 200 vertical ft along some switchbacks to reach the summit. NOTE: at 13,600 ft there is a clear trail angling left before reaching the plateau mentioned above. This provides a less direct but more gradual alternative to the direct walk up the ridge, which is more popular with faster runners or if any snow is present.
Descend back to the Democrat-Cameron Saddle, this time staying straight and heading up the clear trail to Mt. Cameron. This will be fairly steep to start, but is less rocky than the trail up Democrat. Once it flattens out at 14,000 ft, it's hard to tell where the actual summit is - the summit is basically one big, rocky football field. After this summit, you're just about done ascending for the day.
From here, run down a gradual and clear trail before reaching the Cameron-Lincoln saddle. This is a slightly aggrandizing term, seeing as once you're here it's only about 200 vertical ft up over a rocky class 2 trail to the Mt. Lincoln summit. At 14,286, this is the high point of the trip.
Turn back down the trail from whence you came, this time angling to the left across a rocky flat area. Continue on a clear trail toward Mt. Bross. As this mountain is privately owned, the Lincoln-Bross Trail
doesn't actually lead to the summit. Instead, it passes just below and to the south of the summit.
The descent from Bross is steep and unpleasant. Walk back to the Lincoln-Bross trail you were on, and continue to the right down towards Kite Lake. Walk along dirt trails covered with loose talus. As the grade gets steeper, you'll begin to run parallel to a drainage to your left. Eventually, the switchbacks will become more gradual as you approach Kite Lake. Once you're finished, you can relish the fact that you just summited four 14ers in a single day!
Flora & Fauna
Starting above tree line, you'll see some wildflowers and willows down low and pika and marmots up high. Despite its proximity to Quandary Peak
and its friendly mountain goats, you won't see many here.
History & Background
Mt. Bross, despite being little more than a molehill off of Mt. Lincoln, is one of only two privately owned Fourteeners (the other being Culebra Peak). Like other mountains in the area, it has a rich mining history, with the land being passed down for generations.