South Colony Lakes Trailhead


Range: Sangre de Cristo
Coordinates: 37.97611, -105.50651
14ers: Humboldt Peak, Crestone Needle, Crestone Peak
Elevation: 9,950'
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Road Difficulty

Moderate 4WD, long wheel base vehicles not recommended. Good clearance required. 4   (0=Paved, 6=Very Difficult 4WD)
Easy 2WD dirt to the lowest trailhead. 4WD (high-clearance required) dirt to the upper trailhead.

Driving Directions

Take Colorado 69 south from Westcliffe. Drive 4.5 miles and turn right on Colfax Lane. Drive 5.5 miles to the end of Colfax. Turn right and drive 1 mile on a dirt road to a junction. Continue straight up the 120 Road for 0.3 mile to the Lower 2WD Trailhead at 8,800'. To reach the Upper 4WD Trailhead, continue 2.7 miles to parking/camp spots before the first river crossing, near 9,950'. In 2009, the South Colony Lakes road was permanently closed here (gate) and this is the current trailhead. The trail starts next to the trailhead kiosk, in the parking area.

Winter Access

Usually closed near the lower TH at the bottom of the road.

More Info

Parking: ~20 vehicles at the lower, 2WD trailhead. No parking along the first 1+ miles of the 4WD road due to private property. Some pull-offs before the upper trailhead. Upper, 4WD trailhead has room for ~25 vehicles.
Camping: No camping at the 2WD trailhead. Not much camping along the 4WD road but there are a few spots. Some established camp sites near the 4WD trailhead.
Restrooms? No
Fees? No
Trailhead added by BillMiddlebrook
Status Updates 
Posted By: bmcqueen
Info: I was able to drive to the summer TH in my 4Runner. Plenty of snow on the road, but the existing tracks made it very doable. Subject to change with the next snow of course.
Posted By: infinitealpine
Info: Made it to the upper TH in a stock RAV4. I’d say it’s probably at the limits of my vehicles capabilities but doable if you take it slow and pick your lines carefully. Plenty of room to park when I had arrived at 9am.
Posted By: Eagle Eye
Info: I would say the road is on the poor side of its summer conditions, still. Probably the end of a busy season where a lot of damage and big rocks have been dug out. Someone mentioned a big muddy water pool and its near the end of the drivable road, near the upper TH. Its in a slight dip in the road, I estimate a foot/foot & a half deep, maybe 15 feet long & unavoidable.
Its a good road to have high clearance and 4WD, LT light truck (strong sidewall) not P (easily punctured sidewall) passenger tires.
Posted By: Thighs
Info: Made it to the 4wd TH in a 2010 Subaru Outback with some off-road tires. I scraped maybe one or two times but with no significant damage done - just poor split second judgement. Two other outbacks at the top with normal touring tires installed. One big water pool but otherwise dry and in pretty good condition.
Posted By: Rafreaki
Info: At its worst spots, road was more deeply rutted and with larger rocks exposed than I remember seeing my last drive up in 2012. I did make it to the 4WD trailhead in my stock 18 Subaru Crosstrek (8.7" ground clearance) with cheap all season tires without scraping... but I wouldn’t want to do it again. Had to give a couple sections a second try to get through. Probably more my lack of commitment to my chosen line than the cars capabilities but I was worried about my weeny tires. Bigger tires and beefier suspension would be a definite plus.
Posted By: rebeccasimeone
Info: Posting this to instill confidence in the thrill seeking Subaru drivers out there. I’d say it’s Subaruable, others may disagree. The road is in the best condition I’ve seen it in since the first time I drove it 7 years ago. I was able to get my old forester up to the pullout right before the 4WD lot (lot was full) and it was a feat. Somehow I didn’t bottom out on anything. Just make quick line choices and go for it. Momentum is key which may make some AWD drivers cringe on this terrain. If my car was new, I may have been more hesitant. There was one other Subaru (forester) in the 4WD lot.
Posted By: CommanderDawn
Info: Drove mostly stock Jeep TJ to 4WD trailhead. Lot was getting close to full on Friday morning at 6:30am with several groups having camped overnight on the Humboldt trail. I did not find this road fun to drive at all. Although I know there are experts who could do it with enough patience, I would not drive my Subaru on this road.
Posted By: Shaller13
Info: Had to use 4H in a few spots in my stock XJ. Otherwise very manageable to reach the 4wd trailhead. Other high clearance/4wd vehicles should be able to reach the TH with relative ease. I would advise any other kind of vehicle to not try driving past the 2wd lot.

FYI for those who air down, Westcliffe Petroleum Inc in Westcliffe has free air.
Posted By: haup0021
Info: I was worried about the difficult of the road to the upper TH having never been here, nor have I driven much ’high clearance’ roads; so this was a pretty big step up from the rough road to Sherman . I did make it to the upper TH with my Nissan Frontier Pro 4x; but I would say the road was at about the limits of that vehicle; and I did have to use 4WD on the way up in one section. There were several Subaru’s at the upper TH; so its doable with a vehicle of that clearance; but like many others have said; you really do have to pick your lines as there are some pretty big rocks and ruts. The lot was almost full when we arrived Friday afternoon; and was 100% and beyond full when we left Saturday mid-day. (we passed a few cars going up, no idea where they ended up parking; further down I suppose). On a weekend I would probably just park in the lower lot if just doing the day hike to avoid the clutter of the upper TH; but when backpacking/camping its nice to avoid that 2 1/2 miles.
Posted By: coopergould
Info: Personally found the road up to the 4WD TH in considerably better shape than a year ago. Huge improvements and the main obstacle from August 2021 is completely gone. No problem for a stock Taco, plenty of less capable vehicles up there as well. Nothing to sweat about - go get it!
Posted By: spitfiremare
Info: The 4WD road is ROUGH for a Nissan Rogue. I managed to navigate without scraping bottom. You’ve got to carefully pick your lines. It’s much worse than 4th of July Rd, for comparison. We got within 3/4 mi of the 4WD TH. There are places to get turned around, should you need to, but you may have to back down in order to get to one of these spots. I’m sure heavy rainfall would have an effect on the stability of this road so take that into consideration (conditions could worsen significantly). Several of the pullouts as you near the 4WD TH are marked ’no parking/no camping’ as both THs and road are bordered by private property. I would not choose to drive my Rogue again on this road. We planned to sleep in our cars but if we would have had tents, we could have gotten a ride up the night prior. Hope this helps!
Posted By: LetsGoMets
Info: No issues with a 1.5" lifted Land Cruiser. Also saw someone get a Crosstrek up there. Road overall is in better shape so far than years past, but it’s so variable and would still recommend good clearance/tires etc.
Posted By: jordanthebuff
Info: I drove to the upper trailhead in a stock Nissan Rogue. A couple times I had to reverse and try a different line, but for the most part the road is doable in a standard SUV if you are comfortable with driving on roads like this. Clearance would be the biggest issue IMO with anything smaller than what I drive (the Rogue has great clearance 8+"). The key to getting up this road is to know what your car can handle and pick good lines. I’d anticipate that the road will deteriorate as the season goes on with each rainstorm.
Posted By: skyrme17
Info: The road conditions to the 4WD trailhead are highly variable. I was able to drive in without much trouble, but on the way out found several big boulders in the middle of the road.
Posted By: spehkonen
Info: Road up to the 4WD trailhead is not bad. Saw several low-ish clearance Subarus make it without any issues. Locals in town told us it was impossible to make it to the 4WD trailhead in our Toyota Tundra (2WD). Definitely not true at all. GPS showed 16.7 miles round trip to the summit of Humboldt from the lower trailhead.
Posted By: ChossyChimayo
Info: To echo the sentiment of others, the road is for sure crossover-able. Made it up without issue in a normal Subaru Forester with normal all season tires after some rain. You just have to pick the right lines and keep speed where it matters. If the first half mile stresses you out, I recommend parking at the 2WD lot; it gets harder. If the very first hump makes you think twice, definitely park in the 2WD lot. The first major obstacle is better than it was a month ago, but other challenging sections remain. However, getting down is trickier than going up. And bring bug spray.
Posted By: cyrrus
Info: Not bad at all. Any crossover could make it easily. I drove an xterra and could have closed my eyes and made it. Last year, my buddy’s explorer barely made it. Road is much improved.
Posted By: daway8
Info: Arrived at 2WD TH at 5:30pm on Friday July 8 to find it already very nearly full. Left one vehicle there and went on up to 4WD TH in my Jeep. Road is pretty rough, I slightly scraped my skid plates a couple times although that probably could have been avoided if I had put more effort into careful maneuvering. Arrived at 4WD TH at 6:30pm and took pretty much the last spot, though a couple creative, daring folks squeezed in here and there afterwards and there may have been one or two vehicles from people out on long days that left after that (only to have those spots soon filled again). Multiple pull-offs not too far below the 4WD TH were empty on our way up on Friday but mostly full when we left Saturday afternoon. Got super lucky to find an established campsite right by the 4WD parking that was open (much better camping if you hike into the lake but way less weight to lug this way). Lots of people who didn’t feel like hiking in just slept in their vehicles - just don’t expect undisturbed sleep with all the vehicles coming through looking for parking.
Posted By: tdurty
Info: The road is definitely easier than in past years. 3 Subarus and a CRV at the 4WD TH. Some careful line choices necessary in spots, but easier than I remember it even last fall.
Posted By: sibetribe
Info: Drove in 7/1, left 7/2. Road looks like it has been repaired as there is no longer a drain sticking out on a gnarly part of the road. It was very doable in a 4Runner. I have tried once in a Mitsubishi Outlander and failed and would not use a similar car as you will most likely bottom out if you dont have clearance. Saw some Subarus though. Trailhead was busy Friday and PACKED Saturday. Had to carefully maneuver out of the parking lot when leaving due to cars everywhere.
Posted By: swesleyc7
Info: Confirmed: the 4WD road up to the South Colony Lakes trailhead parking lot is completely clear of snow and trees. Normal, summer conditions.
Posted By: Crestoner
Info: 4WD trailhead now accessible...any vehicle that can make it in the summer can make it now.
Posted By: JasonCrane
Info: South Colony Lakes Road is dry until approx. 1.5 miles. Then, about 2+ feet of snow remain & will likely pose a challenge for any vehicles striving the reach the 4WD TH. It appears a couple of vehicles attempted to push higher up the road, as evidenced by very deep snow ruts. Any semblance of tracks disappeared several hundred yards below the Rainbow Trail junction. Use your best judgement.
Posted By: sdkeil
Info: Road plowed to the intersection of South Colony Rd. and CR 121, about 0.4 miles below the 2wd parking lot. Deep snow beyond the plow berm. Plenty of space to park along side the road.
Posted By: JasonCrane
Info: We had two AWD SUVs & it was a little tricky with the fresh snow & deep ruts just getting to the lower TH from near the 119 turn-off. Above the lower TH, S Colony Road/120 has feet of snow that only a snowmobile could make headway. We only hiked to the Rainbow Trail junction for an unsuccessful East Ridge bid on Humboldt.
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