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  • Writer's pictureJoanna Lee

San Luis Peak

August 31, 2023

San Luis Peak | 14,023 feet

Route: South Ridge

11.2 miles; 3517 feet elevation gain

Total time: 4 hours 15 minutes

San Luis is a 14er that you don't hear much about, likely because of the remote location. But wow, this is a mountain I would highly recommend to anyone. It is an absolutely beautiful area, the views on the drive there and on the mountain are incredible and it is a very straightforward route.

On the drive to the trailhead from Denver you see incredible views of Kit Carson, Challenger, The Crestones, Blanca, Ellingwood and Little Bear. For a drive through the middle of nowhere it is pretty incredible. The trailhead for this route requires 4WD for the last 1.5 miles. My stock 4Runner had no issue getting there. If you have a 2WD car there is parking and camping before the road requires 4WD. Alternatively, the standard route for San Luis is accessible in a 2WD car. We camped at the trailhead, there is room for a few cars or tents.

While the route is relatively straightforward I recommend having the map downloaded and studying the route because there is a turn off early in the route that is easy to miss in the dark. After you connect back onto the Continental Divide Trail/Colorado Trail the remainder of the route and the summit comes into your sight. The route passes through two basins and is absolutely stunning the entire way. It has very unique scenery compared to other 14ers. Around 12,600 feet you will reach the saddle of the CDT. From here the final pitch is a rocky and steep ascent to the summit. We reached the summit in 2.5 hours and didn't hang out long because of the wind. From the summit you can see many of the prominent peaks in the San Juan range including Uncompahgre and Wetterhorn. We descended quickly, running almost the entire route back to the car, finishing it just over four hours!!

I think this route often gets overlooked because it is 'just a class one' and in the middle of nowhere, not near any other peaks. But I absolutely loved this route. There is plenty of camping around Creed & South Fork area so I would definitely make it a weekend trip if I was to repeat it. I also think this would be a great fall hike, there are massive aspen groves as you drive to the trailhead.

Hike Details:

Trailhead: 4WD required to reach this trailhead. The standard route/northeast ridge is accessible in a 2WD.

Camping: there is a few spots to camp at the trailhead.

Fees & Reservations: none.

Bathrooms: no bathrooms at the trailhead.

Trash: no garbage at the trailhead.

Dog-friendly: this route is dog friendly.

Recent Conditions: see peak conditions.

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