Spanish Creek Trailhead


Range: Sangre de Cristo
Coordinates: 37.948757, -105.656986
14ers: Challenger Point, Kit Carson Peak, Crestone Peak, Crestone Needle, Humboldt Peak
Elevation: 8,420'

Road Difficulty

2WD, easy dirt road 1   (0=Paved, 6=Very Difficult 4WD)
This trailhead is on private land owned by the Crestone Mountain Zen Center. There is public access but the CMZC requires that you obtain a free permit. Permits are available here: Rules for using the Spanish Creek trailhead and trail: ABSOLUTELY NO FIRES; NO camping at the trailhead or on CMZC property, including car camping; NO firearms or bows; NO smoking, drugs or alcohol; NO audible music; NO food left in vehicles.

Driving Directions

From the town of Moffat take Saguache County Road T east. Drive 11.8 miles and, before reaching the town of Crestone, turn right onto Camino Baca Grande. Drive 4 miles and turn left into the Crestone Mountain Zen Center. The road turns to dirt/gravel at 2.4 miles but remains accessible for 2WD vehicles. Follow the signs to the upper lot and park in the upper lot ONLY!

Winter Access

Maintained by Crestone Mountain Zen Center.

More Info

Restrooms? No
Fees? No
Trailhead added by supranihilest
Status Updates 
Posted By: Just-Jess
Info: Sketchy crossing at a few of the lower beaver-dam bridges, but all passable. Be prepared to take your boots off and wade. Found a large volume of trash at the lowest established campsite and packed it out along with some very valuable lost items located along the trail. Looks like the campers before us got flooded out and left in a big hurry.

Please don’t carry anything in that you don’t plan to carry back out. Your trash is not my responsibility.

The climb up to Kit Carson from this side is a bit poorly marked. Carry a bit of climbing gear unless you’re very familiar with the path. We encountered 3 climbers cliffed out and in serious distress on some class 5 terrain that they just weren’t prepared for.
Posted By: pgres
Info: Spanish Creek Trailhead is on private property, but the owners are temporarily allowing access. Please note that you must follow this link and fill out the form. The property owner is a Buddhist Monastery and the owners are very nice and welcoming, but have some rules that need to be followed. It’s a monastery, so please be quiet and respectful. Also, NO campfires. The Sangre Range is a tinder box.

Parking is at the Crestone Mountain Zen Center, NOT on Camino Baca Grande. Parking is at the upper lot of the Zen Center. There are signs to point you in the right direction. No car camping as allowed at this time.
Posted By: supranihilest
Info: I added driving directions and instructions on how to obtain a parking permit to the trailhead info page. Cheers!
Posted By: thurs
Info: No issue getting a permit from CMZC. Parking lot was almost full though (not due to climbers though). We were the only people up there for a few days.

No issues with the creek crossings. One is a little janky. Otherwise the trail is pretty easy to follow up to 11,250ft or so.

Btw if you recently built a half-assed fire ring above treeline next to a huge boulder and left your burnt tins and some TP around, we destroyed the fire ring, scattered the ashes, and packed out your trash. Do better.
Posted By: dlintz
Info: We backpacked up Spanish Creek on 7/23/21 with hopes of a good weather window for the Prow. The next morning, we opted not to attempt due to wind and fog. We did summit Columbia with steep scrambling on the east side of Columbia’s south ridge and then tagged Kit Carson. Descending the west side of Cole’s Couloir was quick.

Upon breaking camp and heading down Spanish Creek, we endured several hours of rain and hail. After crossing the highest of several log bridges, quickly rising waters forced a hasty, brutal bushwhack over the ridge to the south. From partway up the slope, we watched the next log bridge get swept away. We then descended the adjacent drainage back to the Monastery.

I have to assume all of the log creek crossings are gone at this point. Despite that, the trail up is fairly well cairned but very overgrown. Mosquitoes were incredibly bad. Bring the bug spray.
Posted By: textrivers
Info: CMZC worked with Access Fund and now uses an automated permit system, couldnt be easier, see here for more info:

Please respect their land and help maintain access for future users!

Trail itself is overgrown and faint at times, bring a headlamp if starting early.
Posted By: blazintoes
Info: Got permission to park on site. First 1/2 mile is packed. Beyond that is rough where snowshoes can be helpful to disperse snow and save energy but the deadfall is pretty bad so navigating through with multiple gear transitions wastes a lot of time and effort. Made it to the Prow viewing but with sunny skies baking the snow, attempting the south gully seemed fruitless. Maybe this next round of snow will be helpful?
Posted By: stoopdude
Info: There’s not a lot of recent or useful on this TH so I just wanted to add.

I emailed to request permission to access this trail, and they replied in the affirmative within a matter of hours. They let me park on their property and sent me a map to navigate thru their property. There was absolutely zero hassle to this other than sending a 2 line email.

It also appears that there is the alternate "sneaky" route that people use, parking in a pull-off on Camino Baca Grande right where Spanish creek crosses the road. It is probably a half mile from this parking area to where the Zen Center route joins up with it.

All this to say, it appears you can do this with or without permission, but I decided to ask and it was really easy!

This trail is steep and faint with lots of deadfall and overgrowth, but well-cairned in the most confusing areas. Trail fades to nothing around treeline.
Posted By: Monster5
Info: Dry up to 11k. Patchy thin above. Incredibly dry across the range. No flotation necessary from the west.
Posted By: spadflyer12
Info: Permission to access this trail can be obtained by contacting Sophie at the Crestone Mountain Zen Center: I and several others have had luck obtaining permission to access the TH through their property. They will likely request that you park at their parking lot, not build any fires on their property, and respect the creek as it is their only water sourece.
Posted By: wmfolk
Info: This public trail crosses private property before entering National forest lands. The private property owners place a very high value on quiet and their private property rights. There are no facilities on this trail and camping or building a fire are prohibited. Deviating from the trail is trespassing on private property.
Posted By: wmfolk
Info: Public Hearing Oct. 20, 2008 at the Saguache County Courthouse at 0900 hrs. to prove prescriptive historic public access to Spanish Creek trail from the Baca Grande subdivision.
Posted By: Unknown
Info: This trail; as well as the Cottonwood Creek trail; will remain closed to public access during the 2008 climbing season due to private property at the trailhead. The property owner has asked not to be contacted to grant access. There are some ongoing discussions about access to these two trails convened by Saguache County government. CMc is a participant. However, the discussion process is in a very early stage.

Steve Bonowski
June 16, 2008
Posted By: vermonster
Info: The first mile of the trail can be lost quite easily with the encroachment of VERY thorny bushes.
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