From the trailhead parking along CO 82, hike south on FR391, crossing the recently constructed bridge across the North Fork of Lake Creek and walk SE up the road for about .3 mile to where the road makes a turn to the SSW. At this corner is where the trail for La Plata Peak takes off heading eastward. Parking here is not allowed. N 39° 03' 50.83" W 106° 30' 14.12". Follow the trail to the crossing of the South Fork of Lake Creek on a sturdy, steel bridge, then continuing east to cross the unnamed creek flowing out of La Plata Gulch on logs. Once across, the trail swings out away from the creek a little, but generally heads south, always staying on the east side of the creek and usually staying well above it. Note that the La Plata trail no longer follows the USGS map or the 2016 Forest Service map, which indicates it heads farther east and then turns up the long, forested, northwest ridge of La Plata. Instead, the trail now stays closer to the creek in La Plata Gulch, at times climbing very steeply above the watercourse. Eventually, you'll reach a section where the trail is following close to the stream and things have flattened out some. At these coordinates is where we turned off the trail and began hiking up a steep hillside of open trees and not too much deadfall. N 39° 03' 07.39" W 106° 29' 32.86". 11,025 ft. elevation.
Gain about 800 feet in elevation up this slope to reach the ridge above. Once on the ridge, head for these coordinates at an open and flat meadow. N 39° 03' 04.19" W 106° 29' 09.63". Ellingwood Ridge and the high point will be visible from here. Continue in an eastward direction at the level of the meadow at 11,800 ft. There's no need to gain any more of the ridge. Instead, you'll be contouring SE over into the next drainage of La Plata Basin. The overall goal is to get to near the last trees in the upper basin. The contour will take you across both open tundra and areas of talus. There is a gradual loss of elevation. Near the last group of trees on the west side of the creek, the stream is choked with willows. Crossing through the willows and crossing the creek at these coordinates will be the easiest place to get through. N 39° 02' 51.36 W 106° 28' 35.36". Elevation here is very close to 11,700 ft. At these coordinates, you'll be at the foot of a steep rock glacier tongue with large boulders. Walk north along the edge of the creek a short distance to gain a grassy slope that heads east and up along the boulders. After the last trees, you should be at the foot of the great couloir that leads to a saddle about 1,200 feet above. About 1/3rd of the way up this couloir, a great rock outcrop splits it. Going up on either side works but there may be less small. loose scree by working the left side. Either way is not easy with plenty of scrambling over boulders of all sizes and gravel/sandy areas. We went up the left side and descended the lower right-hand side later after the summit.
After the long slugfest to the saddle, turn south for the finish on Class 2 terrain of rock blocks and the like for some fun scrambling. Depending on exactly how you work toward the top, there may be one or more Class 2+ or Class 3 moves without any great exposure. The actual summit is an uneventful area of rock blocks. The view of La Plata is outstanding as is also the view of the remainder of Ellingwood Ridge toward La Plata. Once you've enjoyed your summit scenery, descend by retracing your route all the way back to the trailhead. Before making this descent, back at the saddle at the head of the great couloir, you may wish to ascend the other summit point just south of the saddle. This can be easily done by contouring around the east side of the ridge, then working up a shallow gully to the left to regain the ridge crest for the final short distance to this other false summit. There's one short Class 3 move to reach it with no significant exposure. We noted some marginal trail here and a few cairns.