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Humboldt Peak

 West Ridge
Difficulty Class 2 
Risk FactorsExposure: Moderate
Rockfall Potential: Moderate  
Route-Finding: Moderate  
Commitment: Low  
Start9,950 feet
Summit14,068 feet
Total Gain4,200 feet starting at upper 4wd TH (9,950)
5,350 feet starting at lower 2wd TH (8,800)
RT Length11.00 miles starting at upper 4wd TH (9,950)
16.50 miles starting at lower 2wd TH (8,800)
Last UpdatedOct 2022
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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.


From the gate closure at 9,950', cross the foot bridge ( 1) and walk 2.5 miles up the old South Colony Lakes (Approach) road to reach a junction - 2. Turn right, leave the road and continue west through the forest - 3 and 4. After 0.6 mile on the trail, cross a rocky area - 5. Near 11,600', the trail passes some camping spots off to the left - 6. After nearly a mile on this trail, exit the trees and continue through willows to the north of the creek and Lower South Colony Lake - 7.

Taken from Crestone Needle, 8 is a look at the remaining route. Follow the trail northwest up the hillside and locate a trail junction above the upper lake - 9. Turn right and continue toward a slope below the west ridge - 10. 11 is another broad look at the route from Crestone Needle. Switchback north toward the saddle between Unnamed Point 13,290' and Humboldt. After about 700 feet of gain, reach the 12,850-foot saddle - 12 and 13.

From the saddle, Humboldt's west ridge is to the east - 14. Walk up the ridge a bit to reach some small rock outcroppings - 15. Follow the trail along or slightly left of the ridge crest. Above 13,700', there are some areas where it's easy to lose this trail so stay near the ridge ( 16) and look for small cairns and trail segments. Keep hiking until you reach a bit more difficult terrain below a false summit. This is the crux of the route. Ascend a bit to the right side of this area ( 17) and hop up through the rocks to reach the west end of the summit ridge. Once on the false summit (and you don't have to go to the top of it), the summit is visible across a flat grassy area - 18. Walk 0.25 mile east and up the final rocks ( 19) to the summit - 20 and 21.


Humboldt is much easier than climbing the other 14ers in the area (Crestone Needle, Crestone Peak, Kit Carson Peak and Challenger Point) but it's not a Class 1 walk-up. IMPORTANT: This route enters the Sangre De Cristo Wilderness area. Wilderness areas have special regulations and restrictions for party size, dispersed camping, campfires, etc. Also, dog owners should read the wilderness information carefully because some wilderness areas prohibit dogs to be off-leash and/or limit how close dogs can be to lakes and streams. If you have questions about the wilderness area, please contact a U.S. Forest Service office for the National Forest(s) listed above.
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