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.
- Trailhead: West Winfield (Southwest Ridge)
- Round trip: 8 miles / 12.9 km
- Elevation: 10,778′ – 14,336′ / 3,285 m – 4,370 m
- County: Chaffee
- Agency: U.S. Forest Service
- Nat’l Forest: San Isabel
Gaining the southwest ridge requires climbing up a large boulder and talus field with a steep elevation gain
La Plata Peak southwest ridge with abandoned mining track. View of Huron Peak and the Three Apostles in the background.
GPS Route with Elevation
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.
Your pics look beautiful! Did you find accessing the trailhead difficult? I have moderate clearance on my SUV and don’t want to get stuck.?
The road conditions have undoubtedly changed since i was there, but in June you could reach the trailhead in a moderate clearance SUV if you take your time and drive slow. The biggest variable is going to be moisture. If it rains, or has rained recently, the runoff could easily make the road impossible. Clear as mud….this is one of those trail-heads that is sketchy to get too.