LoJ: #472 (Pre-LiDAR #488) / 13,218' "Leaning South Peak" Formerly UN13203

Quadrangle › Trinchera Peak
Summit Location › Peak Route Icon N 37° 16' 28.80", W 105° 09' 32.97" (Not Field Checked)

Peak Summary

UN 13,218 (Leaning South Peak) is a Class 2 summit located on the ridge that connects Cuatro Peak with Trinchera Peak. If combining those two summits together, then you will be hiking over Leaning South Peak. The hike can begin at the Blue Lakes Campground which is reached from Cuchara Pass and a drive up along the Purgatoire River in any passenger vehicle. A 4WD or higher clearance vehicle can save a couple miles of road walking and get you to higher starting elevation. This hike offers some outstanding views and wildlife viewing. Lidar added 15 feet to the previous elevation for this summit.

Leaning South Pk North Ridge Route

Class 2
Peak Icon Peak Icon
Medium Day // Take a Lunch
Climbed with Trinchera Peak + Cuatro Peak
RT From Blue Lakes Trailhead - Trinchera/Cuatro: 12.3 mi / 4,355'
RT From 4WD Parking on FR436 @ 11,650 with Trinchera Peak: 7.9 mi / 3,255'
From Trinchera Peak: 1.35 mi / 565' (One-Way)
  • Trailhead
    • Blue Lakes Trailhead - Trinchera/Cuatro

      This trailhead would be primarily used for access to Trinchera and Cuatro summits, (and also "English Saddle," a high 12er north of Trinchera). From Walsenburg, drive west on US 160 and take the turnoff for La Veta, on SH12. Drive through the quaint, small town and continue south toward Cucharas Pass. This very pleasant road takes you through gambel oak terrain, into ponderosa forest and eventually more typical higher elevation aspen and conifers. If you do road bicycling, this is a great ride! Drive on through the little townsite of Cuchara, past the turnoff for the old Cuchara Valley Ski area and just under 2 miles before reaching the summit of Cucharas Pass, turn west (right) onto FR422 and drive the steep, graded dirt road to the Blue Lakes Campground. There is no sign for this turnoff, but it comes just before the highway makes a sharp left curve. As you drive up FR422, there is no "official" camping but there are some picnic areas. It's about 4 miles to the Blue Lake CG. At the 4-way intersection where you can turn down into the campground, turn left onto FR436. Drive a few yards and find a place to park if in a passenger car. Or, you might inquire with the campground host to see if there's a better parking option.

      From Alamosa, drive east on US160 through Ft. Garland and over La Veta Pass. About 15 miles east of the pass, watch for the SH12 turnoff to the town of La Veta. Follow the directions as above.If you have a map, there is a good short-cut option on CR450 that will save several miles of backtracking.

      For another longer but possible access to Trinchera & Cuatro, see the trailhead titled "Mt. Maxwell Trailhead." This access could also be used to reach summits like Mariquita and De Anza B.

      If you have 4WD with good clearance, it's possible to drive on up FR436 to timberline or above. It's a slow 2.2 miles to a small but good campsite at the last trees. The road is in worse shape in 2019 than when we last drove it 10 years before. Along the first .4 mile, there are several (4?) designated, primitive, no-fee campsites. The road is slow going up to the "North Fork TH" at 1.3 miles up. There are sharp switchbacks, it's narrow and quite rocky, but we got our Toyota Tundra with a 6.5 ft. bed up it okay. Though rocky, there were no major clearance problems. There are numerous berms as well to divert runoff. The next .8 mile to a couple of campsite locations is less rocky and a little better condition. Beyond treeline it gets quite rough.


      There are two designated, Forest Service campgrounds; the Blue Lakes and the Bear Lake, just a mile beyond Blue Lakes. Both are accessible by passenger cars. Both have vault toilets but no water. Campground host available at both and firewood for sale. Blue Lake CG has 14 - 16 sites and mostly forested. Bear Lake has 14 sites, some of which are more in open meadow. Just a short distance up FR436 from the Blue Lakes CG, there are 4? primitive spots if the FS has not closed them. Further up FS436, if you have 4WD, there are more primitive sites. See coordinates below. There is not any good level spot to camp at the North Fork TH.

      Campsite Locations

      Campsite 1 › N 37° 17' 42.74", W 105° 09' 02.91"
      Elevation 11,770 ft. Some slope but you can find a good tent spot.
      Campsite 2 › N 37° 17' 40.35", W 105° 09' 06.78"
      Elevation 11,835 ft. Small site with parking for one vehicle, or possibly two. last trees.
    Approach Map Photos
    • From Blue Lakes - Trinchera/Cuatro TH via 4WD Parking on FR436 @ 11,650 & Trinchera Peak:

      • Blue Lakes-Trinchera Approach  Easy | RT: 4.4 mi / 1,100’

        For those with 4WD, you can eliminate two miles of walking by driving up FR436 from the Blue Lakes CG and parking at about 11,660' at these coordinates: N 37° 17' 48.55" W 105° 08' 59.04". These are approximate at best. You can probably drive farther, but this area provided some good parking amidst trees and you wouldn't have to drive onto tundra to park out of the way. A little over a mile up from the campground, the road approaches a saddle at 11,380 ft. A trail that cuts south into the headwaters of the Purgatoire River goes off south from here. There's a good campsite at this location. Bearings are: N 37° 18' 01.09" W 105° 08' 19.60". We drove this 4WD track in 2000 in a Jeep Cherokee Sport with little or no difficulty. Some higher clearance passenger type vehicles may be able to manage this road.

        If you don't have 4WD, you'll have to walk these two miles of road.

        Route shown is an approximation. Not intended for use as a GPX track.


        See information above.

        Campsite Locations

        Purgatoire River Camp N 37° 18' 01.09", W 105° 08' 19.60"

        Open This Approach in a New Window
      • Trinchera Peak NE Ridge  Class 1 / 1.25 mi / 1,860’ One-Way

        If you've followed FS436 to tree line at 11,660 feet., continue following the same road up the first two switchbacks and then depart the road and begin hiking up the fairly broad NE ridge or Trinchera. You could keep following the road, but it leads to a pass directly north of the summit and a steeper ridge climb. The hike up the NE ridge is easy on tundra for much of the way with typical embedded rocks. The last few hundred feet steepen and become more rocky for the summit finish. When you arrive at the summit, if the winds are blowing too hard (not a surprise for this range) you can hide behind some of the large cairns. The summit view offers a panorama of surrounding great valleys, plains and forest, with rolling, mostly gentle mountains that stretch into New Mexico. Watch for wildlife - particularly herds of elk and bighorn sheep which we saw twice.

        Once you arrive at the summit of Trinchera, it would make little sense to not go ahead and include Leaning South Peak and Cuatro Peak, about 2.6 miles south along the central ridge, in your plans for the day. The ridge walk is easy. Mt. Maxwell could also be included, but it is unranked.

        Bonus Points: Another option to consider is to summit UN12,955, about one mile north of Trinchera. The descent off Trinchera north may involve a little bit of Class 3 work at a notch along with more difficult Class 2+ talus & rubble according to a report on LoJ by "Furthermore."

        Open This Route in a New Window
    Peak Icon Route Map Photos

    Route Info Leaning South Pk North Ridge

    Route Description

    Year Climbed: 2000

    UN 13,218 (aka: Leaning South Peak) is sequenced with Trinchera Peak and Cuatro Peak. One-way mileage and elevation gain are measured from the summit of Trinchera Peak. Round-trip mileage and elevation gain assume completion of the entire sequence. The direction of the sequenced route progresses from north to south.

    From the summit of Trinchera Peak, walk south, descending to a minor bump at 13,250 ft. Turn SE and head down to a saddle followed by another short uphill walk to an unmeasured point, (13,120 ft. appx.) gaining about 140 vertical feet. Turn directly south again, drop to yet another saddle, then make the final 425 feet of gain to the summit of Leaning South Peak. There is a game trail that can be taken to avoid the 13,120 point which contours on the west side and leads over to the next saddle. The entire walk from Trinchera is on tundra, tundra with embedded rock and some minor swaths of rubble. This is a pleasant, high ridge walk. Keep your eye out for game, especially elk and bighorn sheep. We suggest continuing south from here to Cuatro Peak, however, our descent route begins here on the summit of Leaning South Peak. So if you go to Cuatro, you may be returning to this summit to commence the descent.

    Additional BETA

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