San Juan Solitude
San Luis peak is considered to be one of the easier 14,000 foot peaks in the State of Colorado. The trail is excellent, the peak gentle, and the hike fairly unchallenging except for the altitude. The difficulty with this peak lies with it's isolation, which means you have to want to make the drive out to hike this one.
The trailhead is high, 10,460', and the peak sits at 14,014', give or take a few feet depending on your source. The USFS has a sign which indicates 11 miles round trip, but gps field data suggest at least 13 miles.
The road in to the Stewart Creek TH is usually fine for passenger cars, but it can be muddy and the two low crossings are best handled with a vehicle that has some clearance. Camping spots exist at the trailhead, and there are a few on the road past Nutras Creek. Camping is probably the best way to start or end this hike.
The trail follows Stewart Creek for most of it's journey. The first 3 miles to the creek crossings are relatively level, gaining about 500 feet with some additional ups and downs. There are 2 crossing you have to make. The first one has some logs to use as a bridge, the second requires rock hopping or a jump. After the crossing the trail resumes it's previous grade before coming to a section with some switchbacks. You hike up through these and end up coming to tree line. Descend to a small stream crossing, and begin your ascent to a ridge in the tundra. Once on top of the alpine ridge line or saddle, continue across on the trail to San Luis. Prior to the saddle, you are unable to see the peak, but after this point you have views of it, Organ Mountain to the east, and other distant peaks if the air is clear. The last section of the hike reminds me a lot of Humphrey's Peak, as this is a volcanic mountain with a loose scree slope to the summit. However, it is very unlikely you will be crowded out up on San Luis. Relax, enjoy the views, and return the way you came.
At 14,014 feet, San Luis is not a particularly high "14er", but it is high for the area and the distance views can be quite good. This area also has a lot of wildlife, including beaver in the creek drainage, and moose, which are evidently very abundant in the area. Most people seem to see at least one moose when they hike this. A fellow hiker on the same day I did this reported seeing 6 moose, with a large bull reported to have charged a hiker with it's antler down. Dog need to be leashed and watch out for females and calves.
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.