This short but moderately strenuous out and back is the perfect day hike. I believe its one of the less traveled hikes in the grand lake area because of the elevation gain. The day we hiked we passed just a handful of hikers and when we summited we were the only hikers at the fire tower.
The trailhead is easy to find, it begins at the Shadow Mountain Dam staging area and is also a small section of the CDT. Parking is ample at the trailhead.
The well marked & well traveled trail skirts Shadow Mountain lake for the first mile or so. After reaching a well marked trail junction the trail to summit Shadow Mountain is clearly marked. The uphill climb begins. This uphill climb is very distinctive. The trail to the summit travels entirely uphill at a good slope. You definitely know your traveling uphill but it doesn't feel like it. One knows in the annals of their hiking mind that your gaining elevation but the body doesn't feel the gain. Weird. Once you start gaining some good elevation you'll hike along a ridge with beautiful views of the Grand Lake area.
Soon after leaving the face of Shadow Mountain the trail heads through a huge blow down area. The wind was whipping at a good pace the day we hiked and you can hear the trees snapping. It is quite surreal.
The trail starts to switchback about 0.25 miles from the summit. The last push seemed the hardest. At the top you'll be faced with stunning views of the Grand Lake area and the Rocky Mountains. There is an old fire tower that was unacceptable due to construction. There were 2 small water sources along the trail. If your carrying a full reservoir of water one shouldn't need to filter and refill. After spending some time at the summit the weather started rolling in and we began the downhill trek. On our return hike we encountered some areas of fresh blow down we had to move or maneuver around.
This hike offers a bit of everything and some moose as well. There is an ample amount of wildlife in the area. The trail is well maintained but beware of blow down.
Check out the Official Route.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.