Uncompahgre Peak

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Trail Stats & Info

RT length 7.5 miles
Elevation gain 2,859 feet
Difficulty moderate
Lowest elevation 11,450 feet
Highest elevation 14,309 feet
Trail type out & back
Trails Illustrated Map™ # 141
Restrooms @ TH? yes
Uncompahgre Peak
Panoramic Uncompahgre

Directions

Uncompahgre PeakFrom Denver, take Hwy 285 to Salida, which connects to Hwy 24 at Antero Reservoir. At Salida, take Hwy 50, heading west to Gunnison. Pass the town of Gunnison and at Blue Mesa Resevoir, take CO 149 south to the town of Lake City. At Lake City, turn right onto 2nd St. and follow the road till it ends. Then, turn left onto Co Rd. 20 or Henson Creek Rd. Follow Henson Creek Rd. for about 5 miles and then turn right at the sign for Nellie Creek Rd. (4WD road). Follow Nellie Creek Rd. for about 4 miles to the Uncompahgre Peak trailhead. There are a few disperse camping sites near the trailhead.

Note: Nellie Creek Rd. is a 4WD road and you need a high-clearance vehicle. This road is very rough and has 2 creek crossings. 4WD is highly recommended, however, we successfully made it up to the trailhead with our 2004 2WD Toyota Tacoma (rear-wheel drive and with all-terrain tires). When we drove up Nellie Creek Rd., the road was dry and water levels at both creek crossings were very low. Drive up at your own risk, otherwise park on Henson Creek Rd. and hike up Nellie Creek Road (4 miles) to the trailhead.



Photos

Description

Matterhorn Peak

The view of Wetterhorn and Matterhorn

We drove to Lake City the night before and made it up Nellie Creek Road with no problems in our 2WD Toyota Tacoma (rear-wheel drive and all-terrain tires), despite reading all of the trip reports that you had to have 4WD. I think it is more important that you have a high-clearance vehicle. We camped out at one of the disperse camps just a few hundred feet from the trailhead. We were the only campers there that night. The next morning we saw about 5 other vehicles at the trailhead.

Out of the 14ers that I have hiked, this one is one of the easier ones. If you can drive up to the trailhead and start the hike at the trailhead, the length of the trail is not bad at all. We started our hike at 7:00 am. and most of the beginning of the trail meanders through a forest and gradually ascends to treeline. Once out of the trees, you can see the easily recognizable mountain of Uncompahgre Peak. The peak is in view for the rest of the hike. The trail continues up the tundra to a ridge where you can see amazing views of the San Juan Mountains to the west. As you get higher up on the ridge, you will be able to see another prominent 14er Wetterhorn Peak and just next to it Matterhorn Peak. The trail gradually climbs along the ridge, then gets steeper as you start up the switchbacks on the southeast face of the peak. The switchbacks bring you to a ridge where the trail is now on the west face of the peak. From here the trail gets a little more difficult, requiring easy Class 3 scrambling. Here the trail splits into 2 and you can choose to go either route as they eventually come together further up the trail. The trail to the right is more steeper and has more exposure, but is shorter and has stable rocks to step and hold on to. The trail to the left is slightly longer, but not as steep and less exposed. The rocks are looser making it less stable as you hike up. We chose to hike up to the right and come down the other way. We had no problems hiking up this section and did not feel sketchy at all. After the scrambling, the trail is back to Class 2 all the way to the summit.

We reached the summit at 9:30 am. The summit is a very broad and flat, but quickly drops down at a very steep cliff at the north edge of the summit. There are many rock shelters to hunker down on a windy day. The views are absolutely amazing and if you dare you can inch your way to the north edge of the summit and get awesome photos of the summit cliff where it drops straight down to the base of the peak. There is a lot of wildlife up at the summit as we saw marmots and pikas crawling all over the rocks. After eating lunch and spending more than an hour at the summit, we headed back down the same route, but at the Class 3 section we took the less exposed route, which would be the trail to the right if you’re coming down. The rest was a piece of cake! We were back down to the trailhead at 1:00 pm. Out of this whole trip, I was more nervous of the drive up and down Nellie Creek Road.

Comments or Questions?

About Jake & Mar

Jake and Maria have spent a good chunk of their time hiking and exploring all that the Colorado wilderness has to offer. Their ambition is to seek out all the hidden treasures of the Rocky Mountains from pristine alpine lakes, to tall dense Aspen forests, to high mountain summits. They both bring their own unique talents and abilities to Findhikingtrails.com, whether it's the organizational skills and consistent ambition to take on new terrain, or the desire to creatively record and document the experience. They are truly passionate about their site and the outdoors. "We thank you for visiting Findhikingtrails.com and wish you safe and fun adventures!"