La Garita Peak

Colorado 13er peak questions, condition requests and other info.
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George James
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La Garita Peak

Postby George James » Mon Feb 09, 2009 10:41 pm

I'm interested in any beta you can share with me for La Garita Peak and the Wason Park area to the south (I'd be coming from that direction). Any information would be greatly appreciated! :D
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Chris P.
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Re: La Garita Peak

Postby Chris P. » Tue Feb 10, 2009 12:13 am

As a warning, this is going to be a long post. If you just want my recommendation for the best route, skip to the end. For details see the stuff in the middle. First off, great choice in peaks. I can see the peak from my house so if you're looking for a conditions update as your time to climb it nears you can either PM me or check out the web cam at There are several good routes that I would recommend, and each have their merits.

1. The shortest and easiest route is to park at the end of the East Willow Creek road before the road splits and approach Wason Park by proceeding up East Willow Creek until you intersect the La Garita stock driveway, and taking that trail up to the park, then picking your route up the peak from there. This approach and trailhead are described by Roach in his route description for Phoenix Peak.

2. About 1/2 mile south from the previous trailhead, there is a small unmarked mining road that turns into an old unmaintained trail that ascends a gulley to the saddle below Mammoth Mountain, right below Wason Park. From here you pick up the Wason stock driveway trail and take it through the park right to the base of the peak.

3. My favorite route is to take the Inspiration point trail from town (trail starts across the street from the gas station). Ascend the trail all the way to inspiration point, then after the road ends, pick the trail back up and take it toward Wason Park. After a while the Wason Stock Driveway meets up with the trail and the route continues onto the park as in the previous route.

4. The most difficult as far as route finding goes begins on the landfill road south of town 2 miles (take a right instead of going left up the hill to go to the landfill). There will be a shallow gulch that you will begin to ascend and attempt to locate the old Wason Stock Driveway. The trail is very difficult to find and stay on as you pick your way up the gulley. After you get into the trees, the trail becomes more defined and you will meet up with the upper inspiration point trail at 11,200'. Proceed as in the previous 2 routes to get up to the park.

5. This is a long route, but the trail is mostly good and the scenery is nice. Go to the end of the road after you take a right at the landfill as in the previous route. At the road end, you will find a trailhead for the farmers creek trail. Take this trail up the hills and up a gulch until you gain the southeast corner of Wason Park. At this point you can either go crosscountry across the park towards the peak, or continue on the trail 2 more miles until you intersect the Alder stock driveway further up, then either climb the peak from here, or take Alder west across the park to get in front of the center of the peak.

Routes in ascending elevation gain: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Routes in ascending length: 2, 1, 4, 3, 5
Routes raked by scenery: (best first): 1, 5, 3, 2, 4
Routes ranked by overall enjoyment (best first): 3, 1, 5, 2, 4
Routes ranked by seasonal accessibility (best first): 3, 5, 4, 2, 1
Routes ranked by routefinding (best first): 3, 1, 5, 2, 4

If you are not very familiar with the area and are looking more or less for the path of least resistance, I would recommend either route 1 or 3. All of the routes have routefinding issues, but these two are the most simple. If you have a decent route description and aren't afraid to glance at a map now and then, neither are too difficult to navigate. Both have great scenery. If seeing moose and nice waterfalls interests you, route 1 is a good choice. If you're looking for wild and remote feeling routes with challenging route finding, route 2 and 4 both fit the bill. All of these routes can be done as an overnight backpack fairly reasonably by camping on Wason park. All but route 5 can be reasonably done as day hikes for someone who is in good shape. Route 5 is best done as an overnight or one very long day. The trails for all of these routes are shown on the 1959 edition USGS Creede 15 minute quad (available in a condensed form from San Juan Sports in Creede), however some of these trails and roads have degraded somewhat since 1959, and there is at least one road that intersects route 3 many times that is not shown on the quad. I believe all the trails are marked on the current edition of the quad, but I don't have it in front of me to make sure. Some of these trails (particularly the stock driveways) really only get used a few times each year by sheep herders and such, so they are not always well defined. If you want any additional information on any of these routes such as more detailed route descriptions or trailhead information feel free to PM me.

p.s. For your after-hike meal, I highly recommend the chili cheese burger from the Dog House. Best 6 bucks you will spend.

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