Pennsylvania Mountain, located in the scenic Mosquito Mountain Range, is only short drive from Fairplay. By traveling north on Hwy 9, continuing on County Rd. 14 and on up Mountain View Drive where it dead ends, one arrives at the trail head. From here at 13,006, Pennsylvania Mountain offers spectacular 360 degree views.
The easy to moderate hiking trail leads through a 500+ acre natural area with public land on three sides and the remnants of high altitude gold mining operations in the not far away.
At first one hikes along a well-established trail lined with fir trees at 11,500 feet. The trail opens up to willow meadows and abundant wildflower fields in mid-summer. The area is also frequented by several moose families and other wildlife.
It is quite possible that one can observe students from the University of Missouri Science department as they go about their studies. Running with butterfly nets through the steep meadows, they catch rare species of short tongued-alpine bumble bees for further scientific study. They also mark off coordinates and isolate species of wildflowers and plants.
When the fir trees recede and the open wildflower meadows grow steeper, one will step into an enchanted small forest of wind-twisted ancient Bristlecone pines on the western slope of the trail. Core samples recently retrieved by scientists estimated that the age of many in the Pennsylvania Mountain Natural Area Bristlecone trees is close to 1,900 years old and many are still showing increased growth rates over the last 100 years.
No wonder that especially local hikers, wildflower lovers and photographers enjoy this uncrowded wilderness area in summer and fall and even in winter and spring for snowshoe hikes with picturesque mountain scenes.
In 2014, Mountain Area Land Trust (MALT) purchased ninety-two acres on Pennsylvania Mountain as a multi-phase nature project and for further ongoing studies by scientist to enhance the alpine research at this specific location that has been ongoing for the past 40 years.
Scenic photographs of the area can be found in the award-winning coffee table book South Park, Colorado, Nature’s Paradise that Bernie and Linda Nagy wrote and published. Many of the wildflower species on Pennsylvania Mountain were identified in the recently released 2016 Rocky Mountain Wildflowers Field Guide, a 272-page pocket guide book by Linda Nagy with photos by Bernie Nagy. Both books are available at www.highcountryartworks.com and on Amazon.