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LoJ: #184 (G & M: #183) UN 13626

Range › Sawatch Range
Quadrangle › Mount Yale
Summit Location › Peak Route Icon N 38° 45' 12.81", W 106° 16' 03.80" (Not Field Checked)

Peak Summary

UN 13,626 is a Class 2 summit located on a ridge west of Mt. Princeton. There are two primary access points. One is from the South Cottonwood Creek Road #344 and by going up the Hope Gulch FR348 which is a 4WD track requiring both a short bed and high clearance vehicle. This is the route we utilized. The other approach would be to come in from the road to St. Elmo, south of Mt. Princeton (CR162) and to use the Grouse Canyon trail that goes up the south west side of Princeton. This access would not require 4WD. In 1989 we were able to drive the Hope Gulch Road in our Jeep Cherokee and made it all the way to the pass that would drop south into Weldon Gulch. In 2005 we returned hoping to use the same road and found ourselves unable to get very far up. In the intervening years, the road had deteriorated considerably. Our longer bed pickup used in 2005 could not navigate one of the tighter switchbacks and we found the road significantly overgrown and much rougher. Unless you have the recommended 4WD, this approach will require walking most of the distance up to the pass. 

UN 13,626 Western Ridge Approach Route

Class 2
Medium Day // Take a Lunch
RT From Hope Gulch Trailhead: 15.2 mi / 4,510'
  • Trailhead
    • Hope Gulch Trailhead

      From the town of Buena Vista, turn west from US285 onto CR306, also known as the Cottonwood Pass Road. Drive 7.7 miles on pavement to an intersection and turn left (south) onto CR344 for Cottonwood Lake. Drive 3.6 miles on graded, gravel road to the east end of the lake where there's a picnic ground. West of the lake, thee's a forest service campground. See details below. From the east end of the lake and the turn off for the picnic area, drive west another 3.35 miles on graded gravel to the Hope Gulch TH. The turnoff can be easy to miss and is on the left (south) side of the road. 


      Camping

      The Cottonwood Lake CG sits a little beyond the west end of Cottonwood Lake and is forest service maintained. There are 28 sites. Water and vault toilets are available. As with most such campgrounds, they tend to fill completely on summer weekends. This is a first come, first serve campground. 

      Beyond the campground, (west) there are several at-large, primitive sites including at the trailhead as well. Be aware there are private property parcels along this road. 


      Campsite Locations

      Cottonwood Lake › N 38° 46' 58.22, W 106° 17' 24.75"
      Elevation 9585 ft.
      Primitive site › N 38° 46' 33.63", W 106° 18' 25.87"
      Elevation 9690 ft.
    Peak Icon Route Map Photos

    Route Info UN 13,626 Western Ridge Approach

    Route Description

    Year Climbed: 1989

    From CR344, drop south to an area that offers some camping. The road makes something of a circle here. In 2005, we had to drive through a long, muddy beaver pond before doing a low water ford of the main stream. After crossing the stream, the road narrows quickly and enters aspen forest. This road is identified as FR348. It was at the 5th switchback that we could not get our pickup around and at one point, found ourselves rocking back and forth on two tires because of the uneven character of the road. As mentioned before, if you don't have a short bed, high clearance 4WD, it may be best to begin hiking after crossing the creek, if you can find a place to park out of the way. 

    Hike or drive FR348 all the way to a pass/saddle at 12,600 feet where a cabin/structure is located now. (Perhaps the road has been improved in order to get materials & supplies to this cabin?) It's 5.25 miles to this point. The saddle is above treeline. You can count the switchbacks on the way up to amuse yourself. From the pass, proceed east along the ridge and hike over or skirt around one point of 12,980 ft., drop to a saddle, then go over Pt. 12,842. From that point, follow the ridge as it turns to the NNE and walk as far as marker 12,660. To this point, the majority of the hiking has been on tundra with short stretches of rubble. At 12,660, make a decision. Either continue on the ridge NNE to intersect the west ridge of UN 13,626 or, cut east across the head of the basin for Grouse Canyon, losing 200 - 300 feet in elevation, then hike steeply up ENE to the summit of UN 13,626. If you continue NNE to intersect the west ridge, expect more rubble, plus a ridge traverse with lots of little ups and downs, but never exceeding Class 2 work. 

    If you chose to drop eastward into the Grouse Canyon bowl, you can avoid most of the talus by losing about 250 feet in elevation. This will keep the route on tundra and tundra may be followed almost all the way back up to the summit of UN 13,626. Neither route will make much difference mileage wise. From the summit, enjoy a different perspective of Mt. Princeton, one which most will never enjoy. For the return, go back as you came. 

    If you have 4WD that can make it to the pass, then the hiking mileage one-way to UN 13,626 becomes 2.35 miles with 1,670 feet of elevation gain, plus perhaps 600 more on the return. 


    Additional BETA

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