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#316 / 13,405' Mariquita Peak

Quadrangle › El Valle Creek
Summit Location › Peak Route Icon N 37° 14' 15.40", W 105° 09' 09.92" (Not Field Checked)

Peak Summary

Mariquita Peak lies north of De Anza Peak B in the southern Sangre de Cristo. While the De Anza summit appears to lie within the boundaries of the Cielo Vista Ranch, Mariquita Peak does not according to the map source we have. Mariquita is not on government land however and hence, is privately owned. A portion of the peak may be a part of the Forbes-Trinchera Ranch which is now owned by Louis Bacon. Much of that land has been placed into a "conservation easement" managed by US Fish & Wildlife. We do not currently know if the current property owners allow access to Mariquita, therefore climb this peak at your own risk. Accessed from either the north or the south along the central ridge joining all these peaks on the El Valle quad, Mariquita is a Class 2 summit with a moderately rocky approach from either direction. You can learn more about this area at the following links, one of which contains some interesting history of the area:

Mariquita Peak North or South Ridge Route

Class 2
Medium Day // Take a Lunch
RT From Mt. Maxwell Trailhead: 5.5 mi / 2,050'
  • Trailhead
    • Mt. Maxwell Trailhead

      This trailhead could be primarily used for access to Trinchera and Cuatro summits along with Mt. Maxwell and possibly Mariquita Peak. 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 continue over Cucharas Pass. About 6 miles south of the pass, the highway makes a sharp turn back to the NW to get around North Lake. It then turns back south. After that turn to the south, watch for the turnoff for FR34 to the Purgatoire Campground on your right (west). There are actually two possible turns to this road in case you miss the first. Drive west and NW up the improved, graded dirt road. About .6 mile before the campground, or 3.75 miles from the highway, watch for the turnoff for FR437 to the left. Head up this 4WD road which will become increasingly rocky, but not too difficult. (Last time we were on it was 2004.) The road switchbacks relentlessly for miles to gain elevation. There's a good campsite at about 11,400 feet we estimated and then towards the end of the road, it flattens out some for some other camping possibilities.


      As mentioned above, there's a good at-large spot on the side of FR437 at about 11,400 ft. or higher and then further up where the road levels out around treeline, there's some other possibilities. You can also camp at the Purgatoire Campground, which is a National Forest fee area. There are about two dozen campsites, some in forest and some in open meadow. The sites have tables & fire rings. There are vault toilets and a hand pump for water. This used to be called "The Potato Patch" campground. Campground elevation is 9,800 ft.
    Peak Icon Route Map Photos

    Route Info Mariquita Peak North or South Ridge

    Route Description

    Please Note: Mariquita Peak is on private land on both the east and west sides. The peak is not included in the holdings for the Cielo Vista Ranch. As best as we can tell, the west side of the peak likely belongs to the Trinchera Ranch, another vast holding, owned by Louis Bacon now and includes a conservation easement managed by the US Fish & Wildlife. This easement does not open the land to public access. The property owners still maintain all rights to who accesses their property. At the time of this writing, we have no information on the property owners on the east side of the peak. The two closest vehicle accesses to Mariquita are the Whiskey pass Road on the west and FR437 on the east. If you use the Whiskey Pass access, you will need permission from the Cielo Vista Ranch to drive back in there and will likely be charged a fee. While the road to the pass and the pass itself along with De Anza Peak are on their property, Mariquita is not, so they cannot technically grant permission to hike Mariquita.

    The other access from the east is presented here as the "trailhead" of choice and utilizes the road to the Purgatoire Campground and FR437. This is only a "proposed" route and is only offered because it provides the closest vehicle access to the peak. While you will be on San Isabel National Forest land up to the summit of Mt. Maxwell, anything south of there is on private property. Climb/hike at your own risk if you choose not to contact the property owners and obtain permission.

    From a vehicle park on FR437 at 11,700 feet approximately, hike west up the broad, prominent east ridge of Mt. Maxwell. The terrain will be a tundra/grass mix with embedded rock and intermittent areas of rock talus. As you hike higher, the ridge narrows and becomes almost all rock as you approach the summit of Maxwell. There is a national forest boundary marker at the summit. If you choose to head south along the ridge crest to Mariquita, you'll lose almost 300 feet elevation and will then regain nearly 400 ft. The ridge walk is almost all broken, rocky talus and hence slow. Class 2.  From Maxwell to Mariquita and beyond, the west slopes below the ridge crest are impressive broken cliffs. The main ridge south from Mariquita continues rocky and slow to Pt.12,925, then finally relents to more tundra coverage the remainder of the distance to De Anza Peak. For a return route, it is advisable to return as you came, but it's possible to contour below the summit of Maxwell on the east side and avoid regaining some elevation, however, there are some short cliffs and plenty of rock to deal with.

    If approaching from the Whiskey Pass Road on the Cielo Vista, from the vehicle park on the Whiskey Pass Road at 11,520 ft., you can continue walking on the old roadbed up past two switchbacks and through open trees to where the road comes against the slopes directly below the pass. Then ascend for a steep 1,000 feet on the best route you can find, avoiding minor rock bands and across talus & scree to the pass. Class 2+.  From the pass, head north along the ridge crest. As you gain the soft rank 12er summit of 12,955, there will be some minor low cliffs to avoid and the ascent will be mostly rocky until you begin to level out on the south end of UN12,955. Walk on across the easy, dual summit, descend north to the next saddle and then continue to the summit of De Anza on mostly "thin" tundra with small embedded rock. Class 2. From the summit of De Anza, it's a little over another mile to Mariquita. It's easy tundra walking to Pt. 12,925, then becomes a rockier traverse from there to the summit of Mariquita, still Class 2. As with all the peaks in this area, wildlife is abundant.

    An alternate way to climb De Anza from the vehicle park on the Whiskey Pass Road would be to head NNE up the broad, west shoulder/ridge of UN12,955. This route would avoid the talus and scree of the direct ascent to Whiskey Pass and offer more of an easier tundra ascent. Once on the main north-south ridge, continue as described above.

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