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The Best Hikes in Sangre de Cristo Wilderness

10 Triplog Reviews in the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness
Most recent of 5 deeper Triplog Reviews
8.9 mi • 2,793 ft aeg
I hooked onto this much more popular trail on the way out from South Crestone. I had the trail to myself going in, except for a crossing paths with a seemingly disoriented wandered who claimed to have just summitted Kit Carson after an unplanned night out.

There were a few locals camped below the lake, where I set up on a nice patch of grass under some nice trees. The deer liked that place a lot, so much that they didn't care about my being there. (One bedded down a few feet behind me while I ate dinner and two of them stayed around all night, even pawing under the edges of my tent.)

I took countless pictures of the lake in the setting sun, when I was inundated by an oversized party of students from a nearby college who were on a "solo wilderness experience". Not only were they 25% above the maximum wilderness limit, but they camped right on the lake in violation of the posted limits, and some of them camped in posted restoration areas.

After sunset, I went down to hang out with the locals at their campfire. It turned out that we had a fair number of hikes in common, and had similar weather experiences on some of them.

I met a few other grizzled veterans on the way out, leapfrogging each other at breaks, thereby carrying on an episodic conversation over the relentless, dusty downhill.
11 mi • 3,646 ft aeg
This was a nice start to my CO alpine lakes odyssey. I didn't want to risk my rental on the sand road, so I started a little over a mile short and 700' below the actual TH. It was mid-week and getting to be late in the season, so I had the trail to myself. That was fortunate, since there aren't many legal sites for tents at the South Crestone Lake (it's ideal for hammocks, though).
5 mi • 2,500 ft aeg
Crestone Needle is considered to be one of the hardest 14ers. It was definetly a challenge for me and a peak not to take lightly. It was also great fun and I loved it. Basically, you start at a trailhead and head up to a pass known as Broken Hand Pass, you than hike over to the bottom of a gully (the east gully) and climb up it to a traverse just below a dihedral at around 13,600'. The traverse is the crux of the climb and was hardest for me when descending. You then follow the west gully to the summit ridge and the summit of Crestone Needle at 14,197'. The two gullies are class 3 climbing on excellent conglomerate rock. You can follow the east gully to the summit ridge, but that is class 4 climbing. Pictures are worth about 4 paragraphs of detailed description....
15.5 mi • 6,500 ft aeg
I followed the standard class 2 route to the summit (14,345'). I hit some class 3 above the saddle, but that was my choice. I had good fortune on the mountain, and with this summit I can say I climbed all 4 of the Navajo's sacred mountains. I left the area the same day and descended via the Lake Como Rd, time and mileage does not reflecting this fact.
I was tired on this climb from packing in the previous evening, and from doing Hesperus Mt two days prior. Still, it was good. I got to see a guy who was descending behind me trigger a slide that sent suitcase sized rocks flying for freedom and bouncing 50 feet in the air, and also the stellar view from the high point of the Sangre De Cristo Mountains.

The pictures are the best way to describe the route.
15.5 mi • 6,500 ft aeg
I had to start down in the Chico and work my way up the road from about 8000' to the summit at 14,345'. The weather was great this day...except when I was near and on the summit. Once on top I was shrouded in clouds and I had no view to enjoy. About 8 minutes after I got to the top a bolt of lighting hit a ridge (Mt Lindsey?) nearby to the east and I got off the summit in a hurry. It started to gromit on me and the temperature dropped making coming off in some class three stuff a little hard. Fortunetly by the time I was back below 12,000' the skies cleared. I made it down the really rough Lake Como Rd in about 3 hours and was out by 530pm. I want to do this again, but as a backpacking trip.
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