| Huron Peak and Missouri West Slopes
Left Morrison T-Rex Lot: 5:30 pm
Arrived Leadville to Eat: 7:15 pm
Left Leadville 8:30 pm
Arrive Campsite at end of 2WD road: 9:30 pm
Left Campsite to drive to TH on 4WD road: 7:00 am
Arrive TH: 7:15 am
Started Hike from TH: 7:40 am
Reached Summit: 10:10 am
Left Summit: 10:30 am
Arrived Back at Car at TH: 12:30 pm
Missouri Mountain - West Slopes
Left Huron TH: 12:45pm
Arrive Rockdale: 1:15pm
(drove back towards main road to get cell service for about an hour)
Started up 4WD road to Missouri West Slopes TH: 2:30pm (after about 15 minutes of assessing stream crossings and road across from second crossing)
Arrive Campsite(.5 miles off road to the left before Missouri West Slopes TH): 3:15pm
Drove from Campsite to Missouri West Slopes TH: 8 am
Left TH: 8:10 am
Reached Summit: 10:30 am
Arrived at Lake after Hike: 12:30 pm
Left Lake for TH: 1:30 pm
Arrived TH: 1:45 pm
Drove to Campsite to Pack-Up: 1:45pm
Arrived Campsite 1:55 pm
Left Campsite: 2:30 pm
Reached Bottom of 4WD road: 3:00 pm
Left Rockdale: 3:00 pm
Arrived T-Rex Lot in Morrison: 4:45 pm
Arrived Denver: 5:00 pm
I hope this report will help first-timers decide to do Huron Peak (because it is BEAUTIFUL) and others looking for a serious CO adventure to do the two peaks like we did over one 48 hour weekend. I cannot guarantee a bear will hang around your tent all night like it did ours, but the 4WD road up to Missouri West Slopes should be adventurous enough
My friends had arrived around 7:30 to secure a good roadside campsite just before the road turned into 4WD. We heard and saw a few non-4WD vehicles try to pass us, only to turn around or not even make it a few feet up, so I would recommend planning ahead. With that being said, try and find a 4WD car with clearance, as it really is just a road between there and the TH, so adding the 2 miles each way adds quite a bit of time. There was also plenty of camping along he 4WD road and in vast open-space just before you reached the trailhead, which was a beautiful valley area with 360 views. Do note that a bear joined us all evening at our campsite (which was right on the road and had trails going through it), pretty much just sauntering around our tent from 2am-5am until cars heading down the road scared it off for good. Although I am not too afraid of black bears, when my dog didn't bark, but instead moved to the other side of the tent from the shadow after it snarled at us and licked its lips, I was a tad nervous. Needless to say, I did not sleep a wink.
The initial part of the hike up Huron is nice and pleasant, as it is shaded in the trees, but still offers nice views. You eventually come to a clearing where you can see the 3 Apostles, which are beautiful in the morning light. You climb through another short section of forest and then from then on out you are exposed, but also surrounded by beautiful views that are incomparable to other "easy" 14ers in my opnion. The climb up after you pass the small alpine lake is pretty strenuous, but again, the trail is nice and the views amazing. The last 1/4 mile is extremely steep, somewhat loose and a real burner. But, it makes you really feel like you earned it once you are at the top. There were a few groups ahead of us, as we hit the trail a little late, but still it was much more crowded coming down with people still on their way up to the top. It was very chilly and windy at the summit, and there are not really any wind blockades, so I would prepare accordingly if you like to mingle at the top. The space is also not huge, which I prefer to the football stadium size summits, but it can also get crowded quickly.
On our way down from the summit, I ran into a nice couple from Breckenridge who had recently moved there from TX. This was their 8th 14er, but as we were talking they mentioned they had forgotten their camera. Earlier this summer, I was hiking in the Swiss Alps and as I got to the top, my camera died. I was devastated, but a nice Dutch couple came to the rescue by taking pictures of me and emailed them to me. So, in the spirit of giving back, I took several pictures of this nice couple and emailed them to them upon return home.
All in all, I would recommend Huron as a wonderful first 14er over Grey's, Torrey's, Sherman and all those other multiples close to Denver. This hike was by far and away the prettiest of those and much more remote, with far less people. It is just as manageable, but will turn you onto the peak bagging more so than the others in my opinion. This was my 18th and one of my favorites. Also, as I mentioned before the camping near the TH was wide open and also very pretty. Had we not been going onto our next adventure, I would have loved to camp there a night.
Missouri Peak West Slopes
So, since I had already done Belford and Oxford last summer, I decided to try the West Slopes of Missouri to avoid doing the same hike twice. I found a few trip reports, one of which did this exact Huron first-Missouri West Slope-second itinerary, but it was from a few years ago. After doing this hike, I see why there are not many reports. Let's just say the stream crossing is the least intense part of the road. The water level was low, but honestly, any earlier in the summer, it may have been too high and we went at the end of August.
We assessed the streams, as well as the road after the second one, as there is a big dip right after you cross the second one. After assessing them, we went for it, and my Grand Cherokee did great. The land cruiser behind us also fared well through the streams. The road up is slow and dangerous. It is not a joke. At first it felt adventurous, but then as we slowly crept further and further back, it started to feel eerie (particularly in the washout zone), and the road did not get any better, but probably worse. About 45 minutes after crossing the streams, we reached the end. We saw the big open area, but wanted to see the "end," so we drove all the way to the TH. There is a small area to camp here, but we decided the open area was definitely better, so we turned around and set up camp along the west side of the road above the river gully.
It was the most remote car camping experience ever. This was like backpacking, but with your SUV and all its contents. NOONE was to be found. We did not see one car on our way up there. It was time for food and beers, not as a reward for Huron, but for trekking up the road. We had two separate cars of friends who were supposed to meet us coming from Denver, but who were just going off the 14er.com route description and really had no idea what they were getting themselves into at all. We discounted the possibility of them joining us immediately, however, the fact that we even doubted our friends was a mistake, because sure enough one car arrived about 2 hours after we had and the other after DARK much later in the evening. They drove a Highlander and Tahoe respectively. All cars reported many bottom-outs with the exception of our Jeep. The Tahoe fared pretty well too, but the other two SUVs did have a harder time. 4WD and HIGH clearance is absolutely necessary on this road. That, and an experienced 4WD driver. After an evening of wonderful food, beers, friends and music, we hit the hay without any bears joining us this time to the best of our knowledge. Please note that it was very cold at night, probably down to the 30s. This is high altitude remote camping, so dress warmly. Also, should you want to do this route and not drive up to the TH, the road is almost 3 miles and would be hard to walk on, so I would recommend hiking in to TH, camping and then summiting the next day if this is your plan.
Due to not sleeping the night before, hiking the 14er and crazy off-roading, we got a little later start to the trail. The hike up is very scenic, overlooking the lake and along a waterfall and stream. We took the "long way" and after about 30 minutes came to a clearing where the trail sort of disappears. We followed one for a little while, and then went way into the basin before cutting up to the ridge. On our way down, we went along the top of the ridge almost the whole way out and then cut down, so I would recommend this way going up as opposed to what we did. So, once you come to flatter land and leave the stream, go ahead and go straight up the side of the mountain to reach the top of the ridge. The trail and footing is much better up there. What we did required hiking sideways on grass for what seemed like forever, given the marathon runners racing ahead of me and the storm clouds rolling in quickly. I will say the views are very pretty throughout the hike, and more so once you reach the top of the ridge.
Once you reach the rocky terrain on the ridge, you have some fun scrambling and are almost to the top of the ridge, but not the summit. Once you get to the top of the ridge, the trail intersects with the Standard route and then it is about 15 minutes across the ridge to the summit. This ridge is very cool to walk across, as you really feel like you are at the top of the mountain for a long time. Unfortunately, storm clouds were still looming, it was freezing and windy, and I was exhausted, so we made our way quickly across. We were the only people on the summit for awhile until we were joined by two guys who came up the Standard route. Other than them, we saw NOONE on the trail all day. As I mentioned before, we took the ridge way down, as we easily found the trail going this direction. We also took the "short cut" back as opposed to hiking down along the stream and waterfall. When we reached the turn off for the lake at the bottom, we headed over to fish and let the dogs swim and to meet our friends who didn't hike. There were several dispersed camping sites around the lake, which were serene and beautiful, but would definitely require backpacking in with everything you need. It was also very chilly, even in the afternoon sun, so I imagine it would be VERY cold there at night. Nonetheless, if you are looking for remote, here it is.
The drive down the 4WD road posed some challenges for a few in our group, including the highlander almost flipping, requiring a husband telling his wife to get out of the way of the car in motion to flip, but they made it out safe and sound and all is good now. However, I cannot reiterate enough how serious this road is and how you need really high clearance in addition to 4WD and a good driver. My Jeep fared the best, followed by the Tahoe I think, but just because you have an SUV does NOT mean you can drive this road to the TH.
All in all, the West Slopes was a beautiful hike that was in complete solitude. If you are into trying the alternative route to the Missouri Gulch TH, I recommend this hike, especially if you like remote camping and/or jeeping. This was my 19th 14er and after this weekend adventure with a bear, 2 peaks, and the jeeping, I am probably going to hit up Quandary or something for my 20th.
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