(G & M: #359)
A moderately long trail hike followed by a briefer, steeper tundra hike to a Class 2 summit in the Sangre de Cristo Range. Our route accesses this summit from the west side of the range and the trailhead is passenger car accessible with a little care.
Mt. Owen SW Face Route
Medium Day // Take a Lunch
RT From Wild Cherry Creek:
10 mi /
For access from the north: Drive south from Poncha Springs, the US 285/Us 50 intersection, over Poncha Pass. South of the pass, at the intersection of US 285 and CO 17, turn left on CO 17 and drive 6.4 miles south to County Road AA. Turn left (east) and drive 8 miles to the trailhead.
For access from the south, in Alamosa, at the intersection of US 160 (Santa Fe Ave. in town) and CO 17, drive north on CO 17 for 44 miles to County Road AA. Turn right (east) and drive 8 more miles to the trailhead, same as above. The last 2.25 miles will be a rougher dirt road. There will be several other roads turning off. Ignore all other options and just keep driving east.
There are some primitive camp spots in the vicinity of the trailhead. There are no facilities. Wild Cherry Creek can serve as a water supply if needed.
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Year Climbed: 2009
The hike to Mt. Owen proves to be very straight-forward. Simply followed the well-used trail #748 that leads up Wild Cherry Creek and that trail takes one all the way to Cherry Lake, however, there is no need of going all the way to the lake.
The first 3.5 miles of trail stay in mostly forested terrain with plenty of aspen groves. The trail always stays on the north side of Wild Cherry Creek, typical of most mountain trails, to afford quicker accessibility as the winter snows melt. The first mile is easy and pleasant. After that, the trail begins to climb more steeply, working its way up on numerous switchbacks that will first lead away from the creek only to always return back to the creek. There are some switchbacks that come on a more open slope farther along. (We met a trail crew this day coming up to do several days worth of restoration and maintenance work on this trail.)
After the first 3.5 miles of hiking, you will come to an open meadow area where things level out some. There is a nice campsite over near a large, conglomerate boulder. In this upper meadow, we found abundant, colorful Rocky Mountain Penstemon, with its nearly neon-like purple and blue hues.
From this meadow and campsite, continue for a short distance on the trail that turns SE to Cherry Lake, but depart the trail once you are past the group of conifers that ring the north side of the basin above the trail. Elevation here will be about 11,500 ft. Simply follow an open, grassy slope that leads NE to more open slopes of grass, tundra and rock. This SW facing slope we found clear of any snow and was relentlessly steep over 1,000 feet before intersecting the main west ridge of Mount Owen. Once on the ridge, it is a boulder hop for some distance to the tundra-covered summit. The summit will offer nice views of Cherry and Cotton Lakes, Mt. Marcy, De Anza, Gibbs, and Electric Peaks. There's also the vast San Luis Valley to the west.
Links to other information, routes & trip reports for this peak that may be helpful.
Mountain Handbook ›
Mount Owen 13340
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