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LoJ: Not Ranked / 13,397' South Arapaho Peak

Range › Front Range
Quadrangle › Monarch Lake
Summit Location › Peak Route Icon N 40° 01' 36.59", W 105° 39' 02.12" (Not Field Checked)
Neighboring Peaks › Peak Icon North Arapaho Peak

Peak Summary

This route description is to be combined with North Arapaho Peak. That summit is the only ranked summit of the two Arapaho Peaks. To get to the ranked summit by the "standard" route, you will need to go over the unranked, south summit. South Arapaho Peak is a relatively easy Class 1 to Class 2 ascent on trail almost all the way. Both summits are a popular weekend hike for Front Range residents. The traverse north to the Ranked, North Arapaho Summit is the only challenge of the day. The easiest route will have some class 3 and elevation loss while staying nearer the ridge crest will take you to a brief Class 4 section to negotiate. A climb of South Arapaho can also net you a low ranked 13er along the way for very little effort. (UN13,038)

SE Ridge Route

Class 2
Peak Icon Peak Icon Peak Icon
Medium Day // Take a Lunch
Climbed with North Arapaho Peak + "Old Baldy"
RT From Fourth of July/: 7.2 mi / 3,300'
  • Trailhead
    • Fourth of July/ Trailhead

      If coming from the northern Front Range areas or up from Boulder, drive to Nederland and from the traffic circle where the three main roads intersect, drive south on SH119  .7 mile and turn right (west) onto CR130 to Eldora. If coming from the south by way of SH119, this turnoff will be just south of town just after a couple of switchback curves in the highway drop you down to town level. Turn left (west) and drive to Eldora on paved road, passing the high school and the turnoff for the Eldora Ski area. From SH119, it's 1.5 miles to the ski area turnoff. Continue through the town of Eldora where the paved road ends and continue in a NW direction on CR130 to the Fourth of July Trailhead and campground which is about 7.6 more miles. The road becomes progressively rougher but does not necessarily require high clearance or 4WD, but you might be more comfortable with a higher clearance vehicle at least. On the Trails Illustrated map, after the historical site of Hessie, this upper section of road is labelled CR111/The Fourth of July Road and ends at what the map calls the "Buckingham Trailhead." 

      There is a small campground and a trailhead parking area above. There's a vault toilet available.


      Other than the small campground at the trailhead, because there's so much private property on the drive in, finding any legal, at-large camp spots is difficult. Expect the campground to be full any time around a weekend. There are about 10 tent spots for use and no water supplied, but there is a vault toilet. No fee is collected for the campground, but that can always change. "No Camping" is signed at the trailhead parking. There is an overnight parking fee. Because of the popularity of this trailhead, expect the parking area to fill up early on weekends.
    Peak Icon Route Map Photos

    Route Info SE Ridge

    Route Description

    Year Climbed: 1998

    From the Fourth of July TH, hike up the trail that eventually leads to Arapaho Pass. There is one switchback right at the beginning and then another more pronounced switchback about 1/2 mile up. The trail is well-used, easy to follow and ascends at a fairly gentle gradient. At 1.6 miles up, the trail comes to the Fourth of July mining ruins. (See coordinates provided.) The trail for the Arapaho Peaks turns of in this vicinity and was signed when we passed by in 2012. You may see other trails earlier that serve as a shortcut. Most likely, the Forest Service discourages their use.

    From the trail intersection, head up past low trees and onto open tundra slopes. The trail heads NE and E as if climbs steadily on switchbacks through mostly tundra terrain that gives way to more rock higher up. Near the saddle between South Arapaho and "Old Baldy," (UN13,038) the trail joins the "Glacier Trail" coming in from the east. At the saddle, turn and head NW, basically following along the ridge to the summit. The gradient increases in steepness. There are spectacular views looking down to the right into the Arapaho Glacier cirque. Staying on the trail will keep you safe. Venture near the edge at your own risk. The trail finishes amid boulders & rocks at the summit.

    Now it's time to take a good look at the weather and decide if you have the additional two hours minimum to make the traverse on over to North Arapaho and back without putting yourself at too much risk. To descend from S. Arapaho, simply retrace your ascent route back to the TH, but don't forget to include "Old Baldy," which is no more than a 15 minutes jaunt up from the east saddle over mixed tundra & rock.

    Route GPS Coordinates

    Fourth of July Mine & trail turnoff › N 40° 00' 38", W 105° 39' 32"
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