(G & M: #533)
UN 13140 A
West Virginia Peak
West Virginia Peak is sequenced with Virginia Peak and followed by three other 13er summits that comprise a long, ridge-walk day in the Sawatch Range near Winfield. This allows for the completion of five 13er summits in one day. The entire sequence is Class 2 with no particularly difficult sections. Access to the trailhead is best gained by 4WD or a higher clearance vehicle. Passenger vehicles may drive as far as Winfield. Beginning this sequenced hike from Winfield will add about 4 miles of additional hiking to the day.
W. Virginia Pk. East Ridge Route
From Leadville, drive south a little over 19 miles on HWY 24 to the turnoff for Clear Creek Reservoir (CR390) and head west. The turn is less than 2 miles south of "Granite." From Buena Vista, drive north just under 15 miles to the same turnoff. Drive west on graded dirt road 11.7 miles to Winfield. As the road approaches Winfield, it will become a little more narrow and likely to have some potholes. Because of heavy use, this road is often washboarded badly. At Winfield, turn south and cross the creek and continue south, then SW on CR390.2B. About 100 yards after crossing the creek, passenger cars may want to park because the road greatly deteriorates beyond there. Higher clearance vehicles may continue. 4WD is not really required for the remainder of the drive to the end of the road. At a little over .7 mile after crossing Clear Creek, just south of Winfield is the turnoff for the blocked road to Lulu Gulch, UN 13,462 A and Browns Peak. From Winfield it's about 2.25 miles to the end of the road and some limited parking. This trailhead is used for both Huron Peak and routes to the Apostles.
If using this general trailhead description for access to peaks up the Lake Fork of Clear Creek (Clohesy Lake), then do not drive all the way to Winfield. Instead, you'll need to turn left at 9.8 miles in from US24 and drive down through the few cabins that comprise "Rockdale," ford Clear Creek and drive to the Clohesy Lake trailhead with a starting elevation of 10,900 ft. 4WD required for this access, otherwise, walk it and enjoy the frigid and sometimes dangerous crossing of Clear Creek.
For the access to Huron and the Apostles, best camping opportunities are along the final two miles to the trailhead from Winfield. There are several at-large spots available. Camping before Winfield can be difficult because of private property and the large number of people coming to climb Belford, Oxford and Missouri.
There are good campsites for backpackers in the vicinity of "Hamilton" along the Huron Route and the trail up toward the Apostles. There are also good campsites in the meadow just north of the rock glacier at about 11,400 feet or a little lower.
If heading up the Lake Fork toward Clohesy Lake, there is at-large camping at the trailhead which is at a large, open meadow area that's relatively flat. Coordinates are: N 38° 57' 15.48" W 106° 24' 32.64"
From Virginia Peak
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Virginia Peak is sequenced with four other summits for a five-summit day. There are two ways this hike may be started.
1. From the vicinity of the Banker Mine, there is a single-lane vehicle track that heads SW down toward the creek, cutting through some willows. Cross the creek and pick up the trail on the other side. The trail makes two switchbacks up the hillside, then heads SW to cross the broad SE ridge of Virginia Peak down low, before gaining much elevation.
2. Drive to the end of the road and the trailhead parking. Walk about 100 yards south along the old roadbed/trail and look for an opening in the forest on the right (west). Depart the trail heading west and work through willows and marshy areas to cross the creek just below the confluence of the main branch and the SW fork coming in from Silver Basin. Once across, head NE some to intersect the trail mentioned in #1 above and from there, you should be on the broad SE ridge of Virginia Peak. This way of getting across the creek is more challenging with some willow-bashing involved.
Once you've located the broad SE ridge, pick one of two open slopes, filled with summer wildflowers that will lead up to the ridge proper. It's fairly steep initially. The hike up Virginia Peak offers one of the nicer views around. You can look south down the valley toward the Ice Mountain complex (or Three Apostles), poised in stunning array of rock and snow with a beautifully clear blue sky as backdrop. As you ascend the SE ridge on the grassy slopes, you may frequently stop for photos. We encountered some bench-like areas with diminutive trees that offered nice foregrounds. As we hiked higher, climbing out of the trees, we began to see numerous Old-Man-On-the-Mountain, all with their yellows heads turned toward the morning sun. Other summer flowers spotted the landscape as we ascended on diminishing tundra to the first summit of the day – Virginia Peak. From the township of Winfield, Winfield Peak is the more noticeable summit, but technically, it is not ranked and Virginia Peak is, being about 11 feet taller. Pause at this nice summit and enjoy the stunning view. In 2009, there was a register to sign. Enjoy the low, alpine flowers. Overall, reaching this summit is a pleasant hike of moderate steepness that can be completed in about 2.5 hours. Most of the terrain is grass & tundra with plenty of wildflowers, and increasing embedded rock and minor talus as you approach the summit.
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Year Climbed: 2009
West Virginia Peak is sequenced with Virginia Peak and followed by three more 13er summits. One way mileage and elevation gain to West Virginia are measured from the summit of Virginia Peak. Round-trip mileage and elevation gain assume completion of the entire five-summit sequence.
It's fairly easy hiking to the summit of Virginia Peak, walking up over grassy slopes that give way to tundra and rock. This pattern continues for the next mile as you follow the connecting ridge west to “West Virginia Peak.” It does not even require an hour to hike over, and the ridge walk affords nice views of the Ice Mountain group, Silver Basin to the south and below, and the North Fork of Clear Creek drainage below the north side of the ridge. There is one rocky window spot that offers a nicely framed view north for photographers. Otherwise, the trip is largely a mix of low tundra, embedded rocks and medium boulders. See photos.
Links to other information, routes & trip reports for this peak that may be helpful.
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