LoJ: #374 (G & M: #373) / 13,322' UN 13322 Lake Fork Peak

Range › Sawatch Range
Quadrangle › Pieplant
Summit Location › Peak Route Icon N 38° 59' 54.44", W 106° 33' 14.67" (Not Field Checked)
Neighboring Peaks › Peak Icon UN 13295

Peak Summary

UN13,322, - "Lake Fork Peak," is another typical Class 2 Sawatch hike that pairs up well with UN13,295 on a lengthy ridge walk of almost two miles. While this summit could be reached from the Taylor Park/Pieplant side, our suggested route takes you up the South Fork of Lake Creek to the turnoff for Sayres Gulch and up the gulch another 1.75 mile to the wilderness boundary. To drive all the way to the boundary requires high clearance 4WD. Higher clearance vehicles without 4WD can make it to the beginning of the Sayres Gulch road without any problem.

UN13,322 E. Face/S. Ridge Route

Class 2
Peak Icon Peak Icon
Medium Day // Take a Lunch
Climbed with UN 13295
RT From Sayres Gulch: 5.5 mi / 2,325'
  • Trailhead
    • Sayres Gulch Trailhead

      Two possible access routes but both involve Highway 82:

      From US HWY 24 between Leadville and Buena Vista, take the State HWY 82 west, around Twin Lakes for 14.5 miles for the turnoff left (south) onto the South Fork Lake Creek road. (FR391)

      From Glenwood Springs/Aspen, drive on State HWY 82 through Aspen and continue driving one of Colorado's most thrilling passes to the summit of Independence Pass. Continue over the pass, down the east side and from the final switchback that drops you down to valley level, it's about 4.5 miles to the turnoff for the South Fork Lake Creek road (FR391).

      Once you turn onto FR391, drive over the new bridge (placed summer of 2014) that crosses the Lake Fork and perhaps stop to admire the narrow gorge the bridge is built over. Continue driving through private property initially for another 2.7 miles or slightly further to where the road forks for Sayres Gulch (FR 382). Park in this vicinity. The road to Sayres Gulch will branch off to the right. The road you want for UN13,460 East and Sayres BM continues more directly toward some trees and a crossing of the creek. Our last visit to this road, the Forest Service had closed it with a locked gate not very far up. They have closed this road for restoration purposes. Even if you had 4WD and the gate was open, you would not get very far anyhow because the condition of the road had deteriorated so much.

      The road up Sayres Gulch (FR 382) was still open up to the wilderness boundary as of 2003. At this point, you'll want to have 4WD with good clearance. It will come in handy for getting across some rough sections of the road as you approach the wilderness boundary. If you don't feel comfortable with these rough sections, park where you can to begin your hike. The distance up to the wilderness boundary and parking in an open meadow is about 1.75 mile.


      Camping

      There is a good, primitive camp location a short distance before reaching the TH. See coordinates provided. Otherwise, if you want something less primitive, here are some other suggestions:

      On the east side of Independence Pass, designated Forest Service campgrounds include Parry Peak and Twin Peaks. There are also numerous primitive sites all along Lake Creek. One of the best is here: N 39° 04' 54.99" W 106° 32' 21.86". This is where a diversion tunnel empties out into the Lake Fork and is just under 2 miles west of the turnoff for the South Fork of Lake Creek.

      On the west side of Independence Pass, there are designated Forest Service campgrounds at Difficult Creek, Weller, Lincoln Gulch and Lost Man. There are no good primitive sites, but you may be able to use the trailhead parking area across from the Lost Man CG.


      Campsite Locations

      Sayres Gulch TH Campsite › N 39° 01' 13.81", W 106° 32' 07.46"
      Elevation 11,025 ft.
    Peak Icon Route Map

    Route Info UN13,322 E. Face/S. Ridge

    Route Description

    Year Climbed: 2003

    Where the road ends near the wilderness boundary, it immediately narrows to more of a trail even though there is still evidence of it having been a road at one time. The trail continues on the west side of the creek for some distance. After about 3/4 mile, we decided to begin gaining altitude by contouring upward on the west side of the valley. This involved a little bushwhacking through forest and steep hiking on mostly grass as we headed southwest, roughly toward a flat area of several ponds at 12,000 ft. As you approach this area, keep a watch out for some elk. We spotted some who headed south across the upper basin and took a trail that dropped them over the ridge connecting the two sequenced summits. Our concealed approach allowed us to get very close to them before they fled.

    We did not go all the way to the ponds however. Instead, we turned west and gained another bench area that allowed us to contour SW, then south and then SSW when we began our ascent of the northeast slopes of the peak. All of this hiking is on pleasant tundra and grass and you may see frequent indications of elk having been in this area. Watch across the valley also where you may see other elk feeding in the high tundra.

    Once you gain the south ridge of the peak at about 13,000 ft., turn north to finish on mostly small rock. From the top of this summit, enjoy a fine view of the surrounding valleys and much of your route. You can also gaze down into Taylor Park, the Red Mountain Creek drainage and Jenkins Mountain. Either return as you came or head on over to UN13,295 via the long, connecting ridge.


    Additional BETA

    Links to other information, routes & trip reports for this peak that may be helpful.
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