Tincup Pass (12,154′), Sawatch Range

Tincup Pass (12,154′), Sawatch Range

Tincup Pass (12,154′), Sawatch Range

Tincup Pass gets its name from prospector Jim Taylor, who in 1860 brought his gold strike back to camp in his tin cup. The pass was used to move supplies between St. Elmo and the town of Tin Cup starting in 1881, when a wagon road was built.

The views and hiking opportunities along the road are abundant. There are 13,000′ peaks that can be easily accessed from 267 (Tin Cup Peak, PT 13,050, and Fitzpatrick Peak). In addition, the prominent Continental Divide Trail and Colorado Trail cross Tin Cup Pass Rd (267) about 4 miles from St. Elmo.

The Sawatch Mountain Range is home to fifteen 14,000′ peaks, such as Huron Peak, La Plata Peak, Missouri Mountain, Mt Antero, and the highest peak in the Rocky Mountains, Mt Elbert.

Weather

GPS Route with Elevation

Video Tour

Trail Directions

Starting from the south side of the pass at St. Elmo, the 4WD road climbs west toward Tincup Pass following the North Fork of Chalk Creek.

After 4 miles the road climbs to the north toward Tincup Pass.

Another mile in brings you to treeline with a good view of the remainder of the route to the pass. The switchbacks ahead are very narrow.

Once up the ledge road and switchbacks you will be at Tincup Pass, about 6 miles from St. Elmo.

Heading down the north side of the pass, the road is rough for the first mile while it winds through the tundra.

The road gradually widens and becomes more maintained.

After crossing a creek you will drive on a section of road made up of large talus along the edge of Mirror Lake. This section is rough so use caution.

Once past the lake the road becomes passable by passenger vehicles.

Trailhead Directions

Mt Antero (14,269′) and Mt White (13,667′), Sawatch Range

Mt Antero (14,269′) and Mt White (13,667′), Sawatch Range

Mt Antero (14,269′) and Mt White (13,667′), Sawatch Range

Mt Antero is one of only a handful of 14,000′ peaks that has a road that travels to within a short distance of the summit.  The road up the mountain is difficult, rough and rocky, requiring four-wheel drive, eventually topping out at 13,800′. From the end of the road at point 13,800 it’s a 1/2 mile and 470′ scramble to the summit.

In 1881, a Salida man by the name of Nelson Wanemaker discovered gems high on Mt Antero. His discovery was publicized a few years later, and the mountain became a famous collecting area for aquamarine, phenacite, fluorite, topaz, and smoky quartz crystals. It has the highest concentration of these minerals anywhere in the US. With findings far above timberline, this is the highest known gem field in the lower 48.

The Sawatch Mountain Range is home to fourteen other 14,000′ peaks, such as Huron Peak, La Plata Peak, Missouri Mountain, and the highest peak in the Rocky Mountains, Mt Elbert.

Weather

GPS Route with Elevation

From the end of the very steep road at 13,800′, it’s a 1/2 mile and 470′ climb to the 14,269′ summit of Mt Antero

Video Tour

Route Directions

Turn onto #277 jeep road (Baldwin Gultch) and drive 3 miles to a road junction at 10,850′. Turn left on the #278 road and cross Baldwin Creek.

Continue another mile to tree line as it climb’s Mt Antero’s west slopes. Stay left on 278A at the next 2 junction’s, reaching 13,200′.

From 13,200′ to 13,800′, the road becomes extremely steep with hairpin
switchbacks. You may want to consider parking here as most vehicles
wont make it. Continue up the steep south side to reach the end of the road, Point 13,800′.

Trailhead Directions

La Plata Peak (14,336′), Sawatch Range

La Plata Peak (14,336′), Sawatch Range

La Plata Peak (14,336′), Sawatch Range

La Plata Peak is known for it’s distinctive Ellingwood Ridge, and is one of the highest 14,000′ peaks in Colorado. Traverseing the Southwest Ridge route, with Huron Peak and the Three Apostles providing a backdrop, makes for stunning scenery. 

“La Plata” is Spanish for “The Silver”, a reference to the many silver deposits in the area. You can find remnants of old mines along the trail.

The Sawatch Mountain Range is home to fourteen other 14,000′ peaks, such as Huron Peak, Mt Antero, Missouri Mountain, and the highest peak in the Rocky Mountains, Mt Elbert.

Weather

GPS Route with Elevation

Video Tour

Trail Directions

Note: The West Winfield trailhead is small and very hard to reach, even during dry conditions due to the rough 4X4 road.

Once at the trailhead head directly north and cross a small creek and turn west for a bit. Following the steep trail you reach treeline at about 12,000′. Here the elevation levels out and you navigate through a large bog overgrown with willows. Expect to get your boots muddy here. Past the bog, you can see the steep trail which climbs to the ridge. Be careful here because of the loose rock and lack of traction, especially on the way down. Once on the ridge, the trail turns northeast and traverses the cliffs you viewed all morning. The trail steepens considerably again and gains 1,000′ in a very short distance, boulder hopping all the way to the top of the ridge. Once on the ridge, continue climbing over two false summits. The trail joins the Northwest Slopes standard route (#1474) for the last 20 feet to the summit of La Plata Peak.

Trailhead Directions

Huron Peak (14,003′), Sawatch Range

Huron Peak (14,003′), Sawatch Range

Huron Peak (14,003′), Sawatch Range

Huron Peak is known as one of the most beautiful hikes in the Sawatch Mountain Range of Colorado. It is the most remote peak in the range, located within the San Isabel Nation Forest, and offers views of wilderness in every direction from it’s small summit.

It’s not entirely clear how the peak got it’s name, but the most likely is that Huron Peak is named after a North American tribe. Huron Peak wasn’t officially recognized as a 14er until 1956, when the U.S.G.S recorded it’s height for the first time.

The Sawatch Mountain Range is home to fourteen other 14,000′ peaks, such as La Plata Peak, Missouri Mountain, Mt Antero, and the highest peak in the Rocky Mountains, Mt Elbert.

According to the book “A Climbing Guide to Colorado’s Fourteeners“ 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 area is.

Weather

GPS Route with Elevation

Video Tour

Trail Directions

From the trail-head hike up through the forest for about .5 mile. Cross a small stream and follow the numerous switchbacks on a steep hillside. Near 11,700, there’s an excellent view of The Three Apostles, all 13,000′ mountains. The trail eventually turns east, approaching a high basin northwest of Huron.

Hike out of the basin onto the upper slopes and eventually crest the north ridge. Follow the trail west onto Huron’s northwest face and ascend a steep, rocky pitch before returning (left) to the crest of the north ridge. Once you’re on the north ridge again, hike a short ways to the summit and enjoy the amazing views.

Trailhead Directions

La Plata Peak (14,336′), Sawatch Range

La Plata Peak (14,336′), Sawatch Range

La Plata Peak (14,336′), Sawatch Range

La Plata Peak, in the middle of the Sawatch Range, is known for it’s distinctive Ellingwood Ridge, popular among climbers. The Northwest Ridge trail starts from Highway 82 and follows the northern ridge that divides the La Plata basin from La Plata Gulch. There are several other routes to the summit, such as the Southwest Ridge. “La Plata” is Spanish for “The Silver”, a reference to the many silver deposits in the area.

The Sawatch Mountain Range is home to fourteen other 14,000′ peaks, such as Huron Peak, Mt Antero, Missouri Mountain, and the highest peak in the Rocky Mountains, Mt Elbert.

Weather

GPS Route with Elevation

Know when to turn around. Turned around near 12,000′ due to heavy winds and low visibility, despite what initially appeared to be a picture perfect day.

Video Tour

Trail Directions

From the trailhead hike east into the woods crossing South Fork Lake Creek. Turn right after the bridge and hike a small distance to cross La Plata Gulch on a smaller bridge. Head right and reach a small clearing almost 100 yards after the bridge crossing. In the clearing, there is a smaller trail that heads off to the east – stay right on the main trail. Eventually the trail has log and stone steps making a steep climb through the forest.

Climb briefly to a small, level area above 12,000′ where you will find a large square boulder near the trail. Turn left and climb to the northwest ridge. Next hike to the base of a large buttress and follow the trail as it turns right and climbs around to the west side of the ridge. If you lose the trail, turn left and climb directly up to the top of the ridge. As you near the top ,curve around to the west side, turn left and follow the trail to the summit.

Trailhead Directions

Missouri Mountain (14,067′), Sawatch Range

Missouri Mountain (14,067′), Sawatch Range

Missouri Mountain (14,067′), Sawatch Range

Missouri Mountain lies deep in Sawatch Range of the Rocky Mountains and is part of the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness. With eight “14ers” (peaks exceeding 14,000′ in elevation), the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness has the highest average elevation of any Wilderness Area except in Alaska.

The other Collegiate 14ers include Huron Peak (14,003′), Mt. Columbia (14,073′), Mt. Oxford (14,153′ ), Mt Yale (14,196′), Mt Belford (14,197′), La Plata Peak (14,336′), and Mt Harvard (14,420′).

Weather

GPS Route with Elevation

Video Tour

Trail Directions

The first 3.5 miles is strenuous, with an elevation gain of 3,740 feet. The next 3.3 miles has an elevation loss of 1,670 feet. Follow the Missouri Gulch Trail into upper Missouri Gulch (approx. 2.5 miles). As the trail ascends to 12,600 feet, it turns abruptly east to climb up to Elkhead Pass.

A cairn marks the turn off here for the ascent of Missouri Mountain. Turn west and climb the grassy slopes and a loose talus slope toward the low point on Missouri’s northwest ridge. From the ridge, hike southeast to Missouri’s summit.

Trailhead Directions

Mt Elbert (14,433′), Sawatch Range

Mt Elbert (14,433′), Sawatch Range

Mt Elbert (14,433′), Sawatch Range

Mt Elbert is the highest peak in the 3,000 mile long Rocky Mountains, a mountain chain which stretches from Canada to Mexico. The peak is situated near the small town and lakes of the same name, Twin Lakes. Despite it’s size. the peak is a Class 1 hike, making it a relatively gentle giant (for a 14er).

The Sawatch Mountain Range is home to fourteen other 14,000′ peaks, such as Huron Peak, La Plata Peak, Missouri Mountain, and Mt Antero.

Mt Elbert, at 14,433′, is the highest peak in the Rocky Mountains.

Weather

GPS Route with Elevation

Video Tour

Trail Directions

Black Cloud trail is the least traveled but the most beautiful way to summit Mt Elbert. This trail is an alternative route to the more heavily used North and South Mount Elbert Trails for climbing Colorado’s highest peak.

This trail passes through spruce-fir and aspen stands, then through rock beds to ruins of mining operations and cabins. Continuing your hike will bring you to timberline, South Elbert, and eventually Mount Elbert at 14,433 feet in elevation.

Trailhead Directions