Peak(s):  Uncompahgre Peak  -  14,309 feet
Date Posted:  08/07/2020
Date Climbed:   08/02/2020
Author:  Paul M
 Uncompahgre 8/2   

Uncompahgre is a climb with outstanding views and a trail nearly the whole way up. There is only one short class 2 scramble up near the summit. It's relatively quick - only about 7.5 miles - if and only if you are able to reach the upper 4WD Nellie Creek trailhead! Otherwise, you'll have to park at the bottom of the road and hike an additional 8 miles and this hike will be long with a lot of elevation gain.


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This picture was actually taken on the descent, since it was dark on the way up. Note someone has put quotes around "recommended".

This is the sign at the lower trailhead. The "recommended" part is a joke. I wouldn't try this road with anything but a high clearance 4WD vehicle. It's very rough and will take a fair amount of time to drive up. My rental car was a Jeep Wrangler which got up and down the road great in 4LO mode. I wouldn't try it in anything lower than that, because you'll tear something off the bottom of your car! Watch for the nasty section immediately after the first stream crossing and the tight, gnarly turns up near the top.


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Sign at the upper trailhead

The trail up Uncompahgre is steadily but not too steeply uphill, and quite easy to follow. The trail begins following the creek:

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Scott was my hiking partner and patiently waited while I climbed with the speed of a glacier.

Very quickly, you'll emerge from the trees and have great views of the lopsided Uncompahgre. You'll be able to see where you're going for nearly the entire route up there.

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Clear views of the mountain on nearly the entire hike.

About a mile in, there's a junction. Be sure, of course, to follow the arrow towards the peak:

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First trail junction


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View from the trail

As you continue up, you get great views of the mountains to the west, including Wetterhorn and Matterhorn.

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Higher up.

The trail does turn left, seemingly away from Uncompahgre, but this is just to get you onto the gentle south ridge. There is another trail intersection here, so make sure to head towards Uncompahgre and not Matterhorn Creek.

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The weirdly undulating south ridge


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A break in the ridge with a steep drop and great views.


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Looking back down the ridge


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I see dogs on 14ers all the time, but not chihuahuas!


The steepest part of the climb is coming up: a series of switchbacks which take you up and over to the other side of this ridge. Once you're behind the ridge, you're approaching the class 2 section. There is a rock that looks like a protruding finger: you can climb up on its near side, which is what we did:

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The scramble

This section is not too steep and it is very solid. It's an easier scramble than it looks. I understand that you can also ascend on the far side of the finger, which is longer but easier. Haven't tried it myself though.

Once above the scramble, there is once again a trail, and you're only a short walk from the summit!

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Uncompahgre's dramatic summit

The summit of Uncompahgre is spacious and dramatic. The way you walk up is pretty gradual, but on the other side are sheer cliffs.

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Towering cliffs off the side of the summit
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There were plenty of people and dogs on the summit.

Uncompahgre is a popular hike. Especially on a weekend (this was a Sunday) you're not going to have it to yourself.

Once you're done hanging out on the summit, all that's left is to retrace your steps back down the way you came up. Do make certain to go the right way at the two forks in the trail.

Uncompahgre is a great 14er if you're unsure about the scrambling and route finding difficulties presented by the class 3 peaks. Starting at the upper trailhead, the climb is both relatively short and easy for a 14er ascent. Though it rated class 2, the class 2 section is short. Besides the not-too-threatening nature of the hike, the views are astounding.




Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
Winter Parker
Great Hike
08/08/2020 23:23
Thanks for the ride and the company.



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