LoJ: #303 (Pre-LiDAR #305) / 13,436' Spread Eagle Peak

Quadrangle › Electric Peak
Summit Location › Peak Route Icon N 38° 07' 30.56", W 105° 38' 36.92" (Not Field Checked)

Peak Summary

A typical Sangre de Cristo summit of tundra with some modest rock scrambling (Class 2+) for a rocky summit finish. Combines nicely with Peak of the Clouds and Rito Alto for a fuller, 3-summit day from the rugged Hermit Pass Road. Lidar data added 13 feet of elevation to this summit.

Spread Eagle SW Ridge Route

Class 2+
Medium Day // Take a Lunch
RT From Hermit Pass Road: 5mi / 2,500'
  • Trailhead
    • Hermit Pass Road TH

      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 in a Jeep Cherokee Sport. We returned in 1996 to find that it had degraded some, but still managed to drive it with no problems in another 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.


      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.

      Campsite Locations

      Alvarado Campground › N 38° 04' 49.37", W 105° 33' 45.75"
      9,000 ft. elevation
    Peak Icon Route Map

    Route Info Spread Eagle SW Ridge

    Route Description

    Year Climbed: 1996

    From the trailhead parking spot, ascend on tundra slopes with just a few trees to the saddle directly north at 12,180 ft. Drop down on the other side losing about 600 feet elevation as you head for Megan Lake. Follow tundra benches created by the underlying tilted, sedimentary strata gradually dropping to the left towards the lake. Avoid willows for as long as you can, but eventually you'll have to slog through a few. At the lake, there are some very nice campsites in the trees. Once at the lake, there are really several options depending on your overall objective for the day. The south facing slopes of Spread Eagle and Peak of the Clouds are covered with a lot of tundra. We decided to first climb Spread Eagle Peak and then follow the connecting ridge over to Peak of the Clouds. To do this, at Megan Lake, you can clearly see a pronounced "rib" of rock & tundra that descends from the Spread Eagle/Peak of the Clouds saddle to the north east end of Megan Lake. This "rib" is easily identified on the USGS quad. Cross the creek just below the lake outlet. Simply follow this rib to the saddle amid a collection of ancient Bristlecone Pines that are twisted and swept into all kinds of interesting shapes by centuries of being blown by the high winds that often sweep across this range.

    At the saddle, turn right and head for the Pt. 13,165, crossing over it and dropping to another small saddle (or contour around on the south side). Beyond this saddle, the route becomes rockier. Head up the ridgeline, staying on the left side for a while and then right at a "notch" location. The final few hundred feet will become steeper offering a natural ramp that leads over blocks of rock and some other tundra ramps that will lead to the rocky summit. Time from vehicle - about 2 hours. Gaze down upon the multiple "lake of the Clouds" below to the north and admire the sweeping views of the Wet Valley and the Sangre de Cristo range as it stretches out both NW and SE.

    Return by the same route if only doing this summit. If trying to bag more peaks this day, head on over to Peak of the Clouds by the connecting ridge. This is no more than Class 2+ hiking, and from there continue south on over Rito Alto and then down to Hermit Pass. Close the loop back to your parked vehicle.

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