The previous day I had climbed La Plata Peak that lies 6 miles to the north of Huron Peak. Like La Plata Peak, Huron Peak is one of the 53 Colorado 14’ers, peaks in that state in excess of 14,000ft. In Huron’s case though it barely scrapes above that height. At 14,003ft it is number 52 on the list.
Although only 6 miles from La Plata, I had driven 25 miles to reach the trailhead for Huron. The final 12 miles were along a washboard dirt road, a road that I probably should not have taken the rental car along. But, apart from being covered in dust, the car seemed none the worse for wear for its bone shaking 24 mile ordeal at the end of the day!
The hike begins just past a “ghost” mining town called Winfield – some photos of that later on. If you have a high clearance 4 wheel drive vehicle then you can save 4 miles of walking and 360ft of ascent by driving to the point where the trail leaves the “road”.
Here is a Jeep just starting off up the 4WD section.
I did not dare take the rental car up the 4WD section! So I had the extra mileage to undertake. So today’s trailhead was at 10,200ft and there would be about 3,800ft of elevation gain. It was pleasant enough along the road if a bit up and down. There were some great camping spots along the way and I waved to one group who had picked a nice spot in the trees off to my left.
I was a bit late setting off – 8am. But the forecast said that the risk of thunderstorms had receded. But it was possible that there could be some rain about. Views soon opened up along the valley.
45 minutes later I was at the 4WD trailhead with the usual helpful sign.
The first couple of hundred yards of trail were surprisingly wet, a contrast to the almost bone dry terrain I had experienced in Colorado to date. The vegetation crowded in on the trail, but soon the trail opened up into the more usual well engineered one with switchbacks. I was passed by a lady and her Belgian Shepherd on this section. It did not seem long before I was entering the meadows above the tree line and having my first view of Huron Peak. This was after about 1hr 45mins and 1,500ft of ascent.
Further up the valley the fearsome looking Three Apostles (the centre one being called Ice Mountain) were still partly covered in cloud.
Behind me was La Plata Peak which I had climbed the day before.
Within another 10 minutes or so I was crossing a delightful high meadow in a basin below Huron’s north flank at around 12,300ft with a ¼ mile of level terrain. Here is a view down to it. Along this section I passed a few early risers who were on their way down. I could also see a few people ahead of me on their way up. I reckoned I was still at least an hour from the top.
There then was a steep grassy pitch of 100ft or out of the basin (the photo above is taken from the top of this). For most of the next 1,000ft up to the ridge between Huron Peak and a subsidiary summit (Brown’s Peak) there were a series of sweeping switchbacks over steep open grassy ground. During this section a strong and cool breeze sprung up requiring another layer to be put on. But the final section to the ridge line was rocky which gave an indication of what was to come – a fine rocky and narrow ridge. I was now at 13,450ft.
Here is the route towards Brown’s Peak.
The final section rears up ahead.
Though any difficulties can be avoided just off the ridge line to the right. Then in 5 to 10 minutes I was at the top. Even better the cloud had burnt away! View south.
View north with ridge down route of ascent.
La Plata Peak (left of centre with snow patches), Mount Massive (distant with snow patches) and Mount Elbert (distant just to the right of Massive)
There was quite a convivial gathering at the top, including two dogs. And it was pleasant sitting there in the warm sun even with the breeze (which was not as strong on the top). It had taken just 3¼hrs to reach the top including a few stops to top up on food and fluids. I spent about 45 minutes up there and had the last 5 minutes to myself just admiring the panoramas.
I was soon romping down the slopes. I did not stop until back at that high meadow. The light was now better for some shots of the beautiful flowers there.
The remainder of the way down to the 4WD trailhead was a delight. This climb (in my admittedly limited) experience has to be both one of the easier and prettier routes. And it has a bit of history to go with it.
I was back at the car by 1.15pm – a round trip of 5¼hrs including stops. As mentioned earlier in this TR my start point was near the old silver mining town of Winfield. At the turn of the 19th with the 20th century Winfield had a population of around 1,500 with three saloons, three stores, a post office, two banks, a boarding house, a mill, a smelter, a church and a school. When the silver ran out in 1918 the people left. The place has been partially restored and indeed some of the old houses are now occupied for parts of the year. The town is looked after by the Clear Creek Historical Society, named after the North and South Forks of that creek at which the town stands.
The old school, now a museum
Nearby there are old workings that can be explored. But I was off on the bone shaking 12 mile journey back to civilisation and a further ascent the following day up Quandary Peak.
[This blog was originally posted on WH here http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=35378]