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LoJ: #531 (G & M: #530) / 13,143' Little Horn Peak

Quadrangle › Horn Peak
Summit Location › Peak Route Icon N 38° 01' 30.56", W 105° 35' 03.11" (Not Field Checked)

Peak Summary

A moderate day hike by way of the Horn Creek Trail or combine with Horn Peak and Fluted Peak for a longer, circuit hike.

Little Horn Peak West Ridge Route

Class 2
X-Long Day // Dinner Will Be Late!
RT From Horn Peaks and Fluted TH: 14 mi / 5,680'
RT From End of Horn Peak Approach Hike: 12 mi / 5,400'
  • Trailhead
    • Horn Peaks and Fluted TH

      From the town of Westcliffe, drive south on HWY 69 for approximately 4.5 miles and turn south onto CR119. In just over one mile, turn west onto CR130. Follow this road west for nearly 5 miles where the paved Horn Road veers to the left while the unpaved Little Horn Road continues west.  Do not continue straight on Little Horn Rd. Follow CR130 (Horn Road) south, then turn right to avoid going into Horn Creek Ranch and follow the road around west, then south to the TH to a circle parking area with some trees and possible camping. The road will change from paved to graded dirt on this last section. The USGS Horn Peak quad does not show this last stretch of road to the trailhead. If using our CalTopo map provided, it's best to convert from the USGS view to the FS Topo 2016 view to accurately see where the trailhead actually is. There is a vault toilet at the TH, but nothing else. 

      Alternate route: Drive south from Westcliffe on HWY 69 3.4 miles and turn right (west) onto Schoolfield Road (CR140). Go one mile, then turn back south onto Macey Lane and drive south for two miles to Horn Road and then turn right (west) and drive 3.5 miles to Horn Creek Ranch. At a signed junction by the ranch entry, turn right again and drive another quarter mile to the TH.


      Camping

      In the past, we have been able to camp right at the trailhead, or in the circle parking area past the TH, but keep in mind that Horn Creek Ranch and other properties are very close by and there are no facilities at the TH other than a vault toilet. Also, regulations may have changed since we were there. The camping is certainly not "private." 

    Approach
    • Via Horn Peak Approach Hike

      Near the beginning of the Horn Creek Trail, there should be signage for the Rainbow Trail. From the Horn Creek TH, follow the trail for about 1/2? mile or so to a four-way junction. Take the right fork to intersect the Rainbow Trail, in the direction of Dry Creek. Overall distance is perhaps 3/4 mile to here. Follow the Rainbow Trail north for another third of a mile until it intersects the Dry Creek Trail. The climb for Horn Peak begins at this intersection.


      Camping

      At-large camping is available a little beyond the trail head where the road ends in a loop. At our last visit in 2000, there were no facilities at all here. Remember that if you camp here, you are very close to the Horn Creek Ranch so your campsite is not very private and private property is close by.


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    Peak Icon Route Map

    Route Info Little Horn Peak West Ridge

    Route Description

    Year Climbed: 2000

    Done as a circuit hike that began with Horn Peak, then proceeding to Fluted Peak, this description takes up from the summit of Fluted Peak. Follow the summit ridge crest of Fluted Peak SE a short distance and then turn east onto the Fluted/Little Horn ridge. Walk the one mile over to Little Horn on tundra, some rubble and embedded rocks with a few minor rock outcrops to work your way around. There are no serious problems, but the rock outcrops may divert you from the ridge crest at times. The final 400 foot ascent to the summit comes quickly. Look back over to Horn peak and your ascent route and view the precipitous east face of Fluted.

    For a descent route, we suggest the following Class 2+:  From the summit of Little Horn, head just a little SE and drop into a minor, steep-sided couloir that drops south toward Horn Creek. The couloir is rock-filled at times but also has plenty of tundra. Descending it is steep and somewhat tedious, but once down into the trees, you can hike directly south to cross over Horn Creek and pick up the Horn Creek Trail. Once on the trail, it's an easy trail hike back to the TH covering an additional 4 miles. Overall mileage of this complete circuit of Horn, Fluted and Little Horn is around 13 and total elevation  gain is over 5,600 feet. That's a long day for many.

    Alternate ascent route for Little Horn: From the Horn Peak TH, you'll want to head for the portion of the Rainbow Trail that heads south and intersects the Horn Creek Trail that goes up to the Horn Lakes. Distance to that intersection is just under a mile. Walk 3.5 SW up the trail until you're almost directly south of the previously mentioned couloir. (See photo) Ascend the couloir to the summit. Done as a single peak day hike, total mileage by this route would be 11 and total elevation gain 4,300.

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