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On Walkabout On: Huron Peak, Colorado – Part 1

Basic Information

  • Name: Huron Peak
  • Range: Sawatch Mountains
  • Where: Buena Vista, Colorado
  • Elevation: 14,003 feet (4,270 meters)
  • Distance: 11 miles round-trip
  • Elevation Gain: 3,800 feet (2-wheel drive trailhead)
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • More Information: 14ers.com

Route Up Huron Peak

Huron Peak Route

Topographic Map

Huron Peak Map

Note: You can print bigger images of this map by going to this link and then right clicking with your mouse and then saving the map to your computer for printing.

Elevation Graph

Huron Peak Elevation Map

Narrative

I have not had the opportunity to climb any 14ers since I summitted Redcloud Peak all the way back in September.  So over the recent Veteran’s Day holiday I planned to climb at least one 14er if the weather was good.  I decided on climbing Huron Peak because it wasn’t very high at 14,003 feet making it the second to last highest 14er in Colorado and it also wasn’t very steep by being rated a maximum class 2 climb.  Considering the current snow conditions it appeared that this mountain would not be too dangerous to climb.  Additionally I wanted to get this mountain completed because the road to the trailhead would soon be snowed in and inaccessible probably within the next month.  The trailhead for Huron Peak is accessed from County Road 390 which is 14.5 miles north of Buena Vista.  From the turnoff the two-wheel drive trailhead at the old ghost town of Winfield is located 12 miles down the county road:


View Larger Map

The road is all dirt and is bumpy in areas and has patches of ice.  However, a sturdy two-wheel drive vehicle will have no problem accessing the lower trailhead until the winter snows make this road inaccessible.  I left Colorado Springs at 2AM in the morning and arrived in Winfield at 5AM.  When arriving in Winfield there is a fork in the road.  Take a left and then immediately look for another left that is the entrance to a large campground that is the parking area for the lower trailhead.  The campground conveniently has an outhouse which after a three hour drive was a welcome sight form. Here is a picture from later in the day of the lower trailhead:

Picture from Huron Peak, Colorado

It was extremely dark and cold out when I began my hike.  It was 15 degrees Fahrenheit, but once I got my cold weather gear on I was plenty warm when I began the hike.  To reach the upper trailhead I had to hike two miles up a four-wheel drive road that follows Clear Creek that I could hear flowing in the darkness to my right.  Here is a picture I took later in the day that shows the sign near the campground that points out which way to go to reach the Huron Peak trailhead:

Picture from Huron Peak, Colorado

As I hiked up the road I quickly decided I needed to wear my micro-spikes because of how much ice was covering the road.  I nearly fell after stepping on a large sheet of ice that I could not see in the dark.  Here is a picture from later in the day that shows just one of many sections of the road covered in sheets of ice:

Picture from Huron Peak, Colorado

Due to the amount of ice on this road I do not recommend anyone driving their four-wheel drive vehicle passed Winfield.  It doesn’t seem like it is worth it to me to potentially damage your vehicle to save four miles on this hike.  After about an hour of hiking I reached the sign that points towards the trailhead up Huron Peak:

Picture from Huron Peak, Colorado

Here is a picture from later in the day that shows what the trailhead looks like:

Picture from Huron Peak, Colorado

From the trailhead the trail switchbacks up the side of Huron Peak.  The entire trail was snowpacked through treeline, but easy to follow.  The below picture once again taken later in the day shows the trail conditions through the treeline:

Picture from Huron Peak, Colorado

As I hiked through the darkness it was actually pretty cool to see the sun rising and putting a beautiful aspen glow on some of the nearby peaks that I was able to see for the first time during the hike:

Picture from Huron Peak, Colorado

The below mountain was the most prominent one I could see initially from the trail as the sun continued to rise in the early morning hours:

Picture from Huron Peak, Colorado

Looking on my map I believe this prominent mountain is the 13,281 foot Grizzly Peak:

Picture from Huron Peak, Colorado

Eventually the trail began to run parallel to the 12,848 foot Granite Mountain that rises across the valley from Huron Peak:

Picture from Huron Peak, Colorado

Here is a closer look at Granite Mountain as the suns ray begins to shine on its broad summit:

Picture from Huron Peak, Colorado

Even higher up the trail I then had views of the rugged chain of mountains known as the Three Apostles:

Picture from Huron Peak, Colorado

The Three Apostles are 13ers with the highest peak Ice Mountain reaching to an altitude of 13,951 feet.  The mountains are supposed to be the most difficult to climb in the Sawatch Range and were definitely an impressive sight to see when they first come into view from the trail.  As I hiked up the trail besides the various mountains I could see, I also took notice of all the animals tracks I spotted in the snow to include these that look like they were made by deer:

Picture from Huron Peak, Colorado

As I approached treeline the amount of snow on the trail dropped considerably due to the lack of shade from the trees:

Picture from Huron Peak, Colorado

I even found a nice large rock to sit on that was not covered in snow to take a break, drink some water, and eat my breakfast of granola bars.  While sitting on the rock I noticed for the first time on any of my hikes in Colorado a white rabbit looking at me through the trees:

Picture from Huron Peak, Colorado

I have seen plenty of brown rabbits in Colorado but never a white one.  He began to hop away and kept looking back at me like he expected me to follow him.  Not wanting to end up in an Alice in Wonderland like adventure I decided to not follow the rabbit and instead head up the trail towards Huron Peak which I finally had views of for the first time once I was above treeline:

Picture from Huron Peak, Colorado

According to the book “A Climbing Guide to Colorado’s Fourteeners: Twentieth Anniversary Edition no one really knows who first ascended Huron Peak.  It was probably first ascended by miners in the late 1800’s though Native-Americans of course may have made their way up to the summit prior to that.  Huron was not officially made a 14er until the US Geological Survey gave it its designation in 1956.  This probably explains why there was little documented evidence of anyone ascending the peak.  Much like the first ascent of this mountain, how it received its name is also lost to history though it is believed it was probably named after a nearby Huron Mine.  Supposedly the miners that prospected on Huron Peak and other nearby mountains found little silver in the area.

As I continued to follow the trail above treeline it soon entered into a large basin that was covered in snow:

Picture from Huron Peak, Colorado

The snow in the basin was actually pretty deep since Huron Peak shades it from the sun most of the day.  So this stretch of the hike caused the majority of the postholing that I did that day:

Picture from Huron Peak, Colorado

Since someone else had hike through here the day prior the postholing really wasn’t that bad and nothing like what I experienced during my hike up Redcloud Peak back in September.  Once I got across the snowfield I was quite happy to see some stone steps to ascend this next portion of the trail that took me out of the basin:

Picture from Huron Peak, Colorado

Once out of the basin the trail then begins to switchback up the side of Huron Peak towards the ridgeline.  Unfortunately I often time could not see the trail because it was covered in snow.  The wind had covered much of the prior tracks from the day before in certain sections.  Whenever I lost the trail I just simply just kept working my way up towards the ridgeline and would eventually find the trail again:

Picture from Huron Peak, Colorado

As I continued to ascend up the side of Huron Peak my views looking back across towards Granite Mountain and other high peaks of the Sawatch Range continued to be spectacular:

Picture from Huron Peak, Colorado

From the ridgeline I once again lost the trail due to the snow and just simply began to do a class 2 climb up the steep rocks on the upper reaches of Huron Peak:

Picture from Huron Peak, Colorado

The climb was steeper than I expected simply because I got off trail a bit:

Picture from Huron Peak, Colorado

So I was very careful and took my time going up because I did not want to make a mistake and slip and hurt myself some how. Since I was going higher in altitude, was still in the shade, and traveling slower my body temperature was dropping and I could feel my right big toe starting to go numb.  Once I was on the final summit approach I finally had the sun beating down on me and it felt quite good:

Picture from Huron Peak, Colorado

Initially on the summit there was no wind and it was quite nice.  I had experienced gusts of wind during the hike up above treeline, but now it was really calm.  So I quickly began to take advantage of the great weather in order to take pictures.  Here is the view looking east from the summit where the 14,067 foot Missouri Mountain can be seen in the left foreground and the 14,420 foot Mt. Harvard could be seen towering over everything in the distance:

Picture from Huron Peak, Colorado

Here is the view looking down into the valley below that separated Huron Peak and Missouri Mountain:

Picture from Huron Peak, Colorado

Looking to the Southeast I could see the southern extent of the Sawatch Range with the pointy summit of the 14,197 foot Mt. Princeton easily visible on the bottom left of the below photograph:

Picture from Huron Peak, Colorado

Looking to the South I had the impressive view of the previously mentioned Three Apostles that looked even more impressive from the summit of Huron Peak:

Picture from Huron Peak, Colorado

Once again according to the book “A Climbing Guide to Colorado’s Fourteeners: Twentieth Anniversary Edition documented evidence shows that the highest point of the Three Apostles, Ice Mountain was not climbed until October 4, 1931 by a man named John L. Hart. For mountains in Colorado that is actually a very late date for a first ascent to happen which just shows how isolated and steep the Three Apostles are.  Since Huron Peak is located right next to the Three Apostles it is also quite isolated.  From the summit of Huron Peak it became quite clear how deep in the Sawatch Range this peak is located because it was completely surrounded by mountains much like Handies Peak in the San Juan Range is. You can read more about my prior hike up the 14,048 foot Handies Peak at the below link:

Speaking of the San Juans I could actually see them rising off in the distance far to the Southwest:

Picture from Huron Peak, Colorado

In fact the massive bulk of the 14,309 foot Uncompahgre Peak was easily recognizable from the summit of Huron Peak:

Picture from Huron Peak, Colorado

You can read more about my prior hike up Uncompahgre Peak at the below link:

Here is the view looking west where Granite Mountain and Grizzly Peak look quite small below Huron Peak:

Picture from Huron Peak, Colorado

Here is a closer look at Granite Mountain down below Huron Peak:

Picture from Huron Peak, Colorado

The next picture shows the view looking down into Clear Creek Gulch where the four-wheel drive trailhead is located:

Picture from Huron Peak, Colorado

From the four wheel drive trailhead the trail ascends about 3,400 feet over 3.5 miles.  That is about a 1,000 feet for every mile which gives some indication how steep this trail is.  However, the good trail with many switchbacks makes the climb up not that difficult.

To the Northwest in the center of the below picture I could see the large summit of the 14,336 foot La Plata Peak which is the 5th highest mountain in Colorado:

Picture from Huron Peak, Colorado

To the Northeast I could see the Mosquito Range where I have climbed the five 14-thousand foot peaks located there already:

Picture from Huron Peak, Colorado

Below you can read about my various hikes up the 14ers in the Mosquito Range:

Here is a closer look at the Mosquito Range from the summit of Huron Peak:

Picture from Huron Peak, Colorado

Here is a panorama centered towards the North from the summit of Huron Peak:

Picture from Huron Peak, Colorado

Next here is another panorama picture centered to the South from the summit:

Picture from Huron Peak, Colorado

As I was taking pictures from the summit I could feel the wind begin to blow again causing the temperature to drop.  Also since I was not moving my body temperature dropped significantly and the toes on both my feet were going numb because of how soaked my socks were with sweat from the hike up.  So the final thing I did was take a picture of myself on the summit before heading down:

Picture from Huron Peak, Colorado

I would liked to have spent more time on the summit because the views were tremendous.  However, I do not like to stay in the cold very long when my toes or hands begin to bother me; so since my toes were going numb I knew it was time to start my descent down the mountain.  In total spent about 10-15 minutes on the summit, but the views from the top make this a worthy mountain to hike up again in the summertime.  For now though it was time to go down.

Next Posting: Huron Peak, Colorado – Part 2

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