Kit Carson Peak
standard Via Challenger Point
 Easy Class 3 
Risk Factors:Exposure: Considerable
Rockfall Potential: Considerable  
Route-Finding: Considerable  
Commitment: Considerable  
Trailhead:Willow Creek
Start:8,850 feet
Summit:14,165 feet
Total Gain:6,250 feet
RT Length:14.50 miles
Duration:User Climb Times
Weather:NOAA Forecast
Conditions:210 reports
Cell Signal:7 reports
Sheriff:Saguache: 719-655-2544
Forest:Rio Grande
Wilderness:Sangre De Cristo
Quad. Maps:Log In to View
Camping:On Google Maps
Eats:On Google Maps
Downloads:Log In to Download
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Take Colorado 17 to the town of Moffat. On the south side of town, look for a sign for the turn to Crestone. Turn east on the "RD T" road. You will soon see a Forest Service sign that says 15 miles to the South Crestone trailhead. Drive 11.4 miles to a road junction. Keep left and follow the main road into Crestone. In Crestone, turn right (east) onto Galena Street and the road will turn to 2WD dirt, with approx. 2 miles to go. When the road enters National Forest, it is labeled as the "South Crestone Road 949" and becomes more difficult but good-clearance vehicles should be able to make it to the end.


Follow the Challenger Point - North Slope Route to the summit of Challenger. From Challenger, you can't miss Kit Carson - 1 and 2. Descend east to the small, 13,800-foot saddle between Challenger and Kit Carson ( 3) and climb onto a Class 2 ledge called Kit Carson Avenue that runs south along the side of the peak. Continue up the avenue ( 4) to reach a small, 13,960-foot saddle between Kit Carson and a large fin called The Prow - 5.

From here you can see the next part of the hike - a longer section of the Avenue which descends east - 6. Hike down the Avenue and pass through a wide notch - 7. 8 looks back on the upper half of the Avenue. Your next goal is to locate the entry point into a broad gully which leads toward the summit ridge, before a rock rib, near the saddle between Kit Carson and Columbia Point - 9, 10 and 11. Near 13,650', Turn left into the wide, shallow gully - 12 and 13. STOP! Before you leave the Avenue, look around and become familiar with the area so you know how to return to the Avenue on your descent.­­

From here, it's approximately 450 feet to the summit. Hike up the center of the gully ( 13) on mostly Difficult Class 2 terrain. If the terrain seems very steep, you may have left Kit Carson Avenue too early. 14 shows the terrain above the Avenue. As you climb higher in the gully, you will likely encounter a few sections of easy Class 3. Look for brief trail sections and small cairns as you take the easiest path up the center - 15. As you approach the ridge crest, angle left and pass through some final rock-outcroppings - 16. Near 14,000' the terrain opens up and the summit is up to the left - 17. Continue to the summit ridge ( 18 and 19) and over to the summit - 20, 21 and 22. Taken from Crestone Peak, 23 shows the upper route.


This is the easiest way to climb Kit Carson, but it's a lot of elevation gain in one day. Consider a camp just below Willow Lake. 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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Topo #2:


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