#264 / 13,487' Cuatro Peak

Quadrangle › Trinchera Peak
Summit Location › Peak Route Icon N 37° 15' 30.53", W 105° 09' 16.74" (Not Field Checked)
Neighboring Peaks › Peak Icon Trinchera Peak

Peak Summary

An opportunity to see a section of the state that you may seldom visit and some easy and pleasant hiking, Class 1or 2 summits.

Cuatro Peak North Ridge Route

Class 2
Long Day // Back for Dinner
RT From Blue Lakes Trailhead: 8.5 mi / 2,425'
RT From 4WD Parking on FR436 @ 11,650: 4.5 mi / 1,325'
  • Trailhead
    • Blue Lakes Trailhead

      This trailhead would be primarily used for access to Trinchera and Cuatro summits. From Walsenburg, drive west on US 160 and take the turnoff for La Veta, on SH12. Drive through the quaint, small town and continue south toward Cucharas Pass. This very pleasant road takes you through gambel oak terrain, into ponderosa forest and eventually more typical higher elevation aspen and conifers. If you do road bicycling, this is a great ride! Drive on through the little townsite of Cuchara, past the turnoff for the old Cuchara Valley Ski area and just ubder 2 miles before reaching the summit of Cucharas Pass, turn west (right) onto FR422 and drive the steep, graded dirt road to the Blue Lakes Campground. At the 4-way intersection where you can turn down into the campground, turn left onto FR436. Drive a few yards and find a place to park if in a passenger car. Or, you might inquire with the campground host to see if there's a better parking option.

      From Alamosa, drive east on US160 through Ft. Garland and over La Veta Pass. About 15 miles east of the pass, watch for the SH12 turnoff to the town of La Veta. Follow the directions as above.

      For another longer but possible access to Trinchera & Cuatro, see the trailhead titled "Mt. Maxwell Trailhead." This access could also be used to reach summits like Mariquita and De Anza B.


      There are two designated, Forest Service campgrounds; the Blue Lakes and the Bear Lake, just a few miles beyond Blue Lakes. Both are accessible by passenger cars. Just a short distance up FR436 from the Blue Lakes CG, there may be a couple of primitive spots if the FS has not closed them. Further up FS436, if you have 4WD, there are more primitive sites.

    Approach Map
    • From Blue Lakes Trailhead via 4WD Parking on FR436 @ 11,650

      For those with 4WD, you can eliminate two miles of walking by driving up FR436 from the Blue Lakes CG and parking at about 11,650' at these coordinates: N 37° 17' 48.55" W 105° 08' 59.04". These are approximate at best. You can probably drive farther, but this area provided some good parking amidst trees and you wouldn't have to drive onto tundra to park out of the way. A little over a mile up from the campground, the road approaches a saddle at 11,380 ft. A trail that cuts south into the headwaters of the Purgatoire River goes by here. There's a good campsite at this location. Bearings are: N 37° 18' 01.09" W 105° 08' 19.60". We drove this 4WD track in 2000 in a Jeep Cherokee Sport with little or no difficulty. Some higher clearance passenger type vehicles may be able to manage this road.

      If you don't have 4WD, you'll have to walk these two miles of road.


      See information above.

      Campsite Locations

      Purgatoire River Camp N 37° 18' 01.09", W 105° 08' 19.60"

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    Peak Icon Route Map Photos

    Route Info Cuatro Peak North Ridge

    Route Description

    Year Climbed: 2000

    Note: When we did Cuatro peak, we started out going up Trinchera first and then following the central ridge south to the summit of Cuatro, passing over several other minor, unranked sub peaks along the way. The one way and overall mileage for Cuatro is measured from the summit of Trinchera, as is the elevation gain. If doing both summits, combine the one way mileage and elevation gain for Trinchera along with the figures for Cuatro to obtain an overall mileage and elevation gain estimate. This route description begins from the summit of Trinchera Peak. Consult that peak for both "Approach" and route.

    From the summit of Trinchera Peak, walk south losing over 300 feet in elevation and cross over a minor bump of 13,250 ft., then follow the ridge SE over "Leaning North Peak," a rather minor bump. Head south still following the central ridge, dropping to a saddle and then gaining over 400 feet to Pt.13,203, aka: "Leaning South Peak." Once again, lose over 200 feet in elevation to another saddle as you keep walking south. Skirt or walk directly over Pt.13,134, drop to the next saddle and then make the final 500 foot ascent to Cuatro Peak. Almost all of this terrain is on easy-going tundra with embedded rocks and some occasional exposed rocky rubble. There are no difficulties to overcome. Enjoy the vistas. The next point south, (13,335) is unranked Mt. Maxwell. South of that summit, you're off national forest land and onto private property.

    To return: We hiked back north to Pt.13,203 (Leaning South Peak) and then headed directly down the well-defined east ridge dropping to 11,800 feet before exiting the ridge to the north and entering a large basin. There was some talus to work our way through with some extra ups and downs as we worked our way north into the next basin labeled as the "North Fork Purgatoire River." Staying fairly high to avoid willows as best we could, we came out within a quarter mile of our vehicle park at just above 11,600 feet on the access 4WD road. Be prepared for some willow-bashing on this last section. It is mainly the difficulties of the return that compels us to rate Cuatro as Class 2 verses the Class 1 rating for Trinchera.

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