The trail #465 heads SW from the parking area, then turns more to the south to skirt the private ranch. The first 4.25 miles of trail are uneventful. The actual trail skirts around a private ranch with plenty of cattle, following on the west side of the fence line and near the forest for over a mile before reaching the other end of the property and moving closer to the creek. At one point, some of the cattle seemed to be following us, perhaps expecting some feed. That was about the most excitement we encountered along this stretch and for the next three miles to our departure from the main trail. This first 4.25 miles is actually a portion of the Colorado Trail and Continental Divide Trail you can also obtain good info on the trial by going to either website.
Those early miles go quickly. In 1:30 we were turning off the trail where directed by a friend who had been here several weeks earlier, but not before having gone about 5 minutes too far and having to turn back. In the 4.25 miles, the trail gains no more than about 400 feet in elevation, and stays on the west side of the creek, usually hugging the forest edge. Some camping is available. After the trail turns more to the south, about 2.5 miles in, you will begin to have a view of 13,026, but not of the true summit. We initially crossed Cochetopa Creek at about the place where the open valley pinches down to forest and the creek enters a small gorge. We had to remove boots and wade across and then dry the feet and put our boots back on, so that consumed some time. Approximate coordinates for this crossing are: N 37° 59' 01.24" W 106° 51' 00.89". Once across, follow a faint path that contours up through the dying forest, leading into Canon Diablo. So many trees were dying off here from beetle kill, that the infrequently used trail, a relic from earlier days, was completed covered with the rust covered needles of hundreds, if not thousands of trees that were shedding them in 2012. The trail is difficult to follow at times, but we found enough signs to keep us basically on track. At least, this part of the hike was on a softer cushion instead of scree or rubble. By now (2023) this route is probably obscured with low-growth vegetation filling in among all the dead trees. Expect a bushwhack.
Hike up Canon Diablo, staying on the east side of the creek for about 45 minutes of hiking. The best place to begin an ascent of UN 13,026 is to cross the creek and head for an avalanche gully that climbs steeply toward a somewhat level NE shoulder of the peak at about 12,000 ft. The place where we crossed the creek was about equal distance between the words Canon & Diablo on the survey map. There's more than one chute to choose from on the east face of the peak. The ascent up the chute we used was uneventful. It was mostly open, grassy, steep and climbed for just over 1,000 ft. Once we hit the NE ridge, which was really more of a broad shoulder of the mountain, we continued hiking on more tundra-like terrain and started getting into some rock, but the overall slope was fairly gentle, and we made good time hiking up to the broad and nearly flat summit. It took us 3:30 from the TH to reach this summit.
We found a summit register on this peak and signed in and spent a good half hour refueling before moving on. We have sequenced UN 13,026 with UN 13,408, which lies directly southeast across the valley (Canon Diablo). If you wish to continue on to UN 13,408, the question will be whether to walk the entire ridge, first to the SW, then to the SSE, then back to the NE to reach UN 13,408, or to drop into Canon Diablo, losing about 1,500 feet, then having to regain 1,900 feet elevation on rugged terrain. We chose to make the drop and climb back up. See UN 13,408 for the route.
Links to other information, routes & trip reports for this peak that may be helpful.