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LoJ: #353 (G & M: #352) / 13,350' Hermit Peak

Quadrangle › Rito Alto Peak
Summit Location › Peak Route Icon N 38° 05' 28.74", W 105° 39' 18.14" (Not Field Checked)
Neighboring Peaks › Peak Icon Eureka Mountain

Peak Summary

If you have high clearance, 4WD available and are willing to drive the rocky and tedious Hermit pass Road, Hermit peak is a very quick, Class 2 ascent from a high trail head parking area and can be easily combined with Eureka Mountain or even become part of a four or five summit day.

Hermit Peak North Ridge Route

Class 2
RT From Hermit Pass Road: 3 mi / 1,300'
  • Trailhead
    • Hermit Pass Road Trailhead

      From the Town of Westcliffe and the intersection of Highways 69 and 96, drive south on 69 a few blocks (about .3 mile) and turn west onto Hermit Road (CR160). Drive 6 miles to an intersection where you should stay left. From this point, it's about 9 miles to the summit of Hermit Pass if you can make it. The road quickly becomes a rough 2WD for the next 1.25 miles and then degrades even more to 4WD, high clearance advisable, if not required. The higher you go on this road, the rockier it becomes with a section or two near and above tree line that crosses through talus slopes of rubble. For our suggested climb of Spread Eagle and Peak of the Clouds, park at the coordinates provided which will be a wider spot in the road at about 11,970 ft. elevation and directly below a saddle to the north that lies between Pt. 12818 and Pt. 12,671. There will be a few remaining trees here. Additional parking can be found just a little farther at the tight turn at 12,060 overlooking Horseshoe Lake. The highest we have ever made it is another saddle at 12,620 ft., just west of Pt. 12,818 and about .6 mile east of the pass. 

      A little history here: In November of 1989, we drove this road to climb Rito Alto and found the road to be in surprisingly good shape. We breezed right up it. We returned in 1996 to find that it had degraded some, but still managed to drive it with no problems in a Jeep Cherokee Sport. Our next visit to here was not until 2009 - 13 years later. In that time, the road had degraded extensively. It had become a very slow seven miles of driving on what seemed like endless rock of varying sizes. That same trip, we also drove the South Colony Lake Road all the way to its end. Between that road and the Hermit Pass road, we had to replace the complete set of shocks on our Toyota T-100! Those two roads had wiped them out. Moral of this story - drive this road at your own risk. It grants access to a large number of 13ers, but you'll have to decide if the potential price is worth it.


      Camping

      Once the Hermit Pass Road gets onto national forest land, there are several primitive, campsite locations all along the drive up, especially at the lower elevations. The nearest designated campground with facilities is the Alvarado CG a little further to the south out of Westcliffe. On weekends, because of close proximity to the Front Range, competition for campsites makes it more difficult to find an open spot.

    Peak Icon Route Map

    Route Info Hermit Peak North Ridge

    Route Description

    Year Climbed: 1996

    Park your vehicle at either of the coordinates you can find on the route description for Eureka Mountain. From either parking spot, walk on up the Hermit Pass Road until you reach the summit of Hermit Pass. Head south to hike up the north ridge of Hermit Peak. You'll be hiking over tundra and scree at first, then you'll encounter some large, broken boulders amid sandy benches and tundra shelves. You should be able to reach the summit in 15 - 20 minutes from the pass. Return by the same route. From your vehicle, the roundtrip can be completed in about 1.5 - 2.5 hours.

    Any truly dedicated peakbagger will want to continue south from Hermit to Eureka Mountain. See the route description for that summit for details.

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