(G & M: #184)
West Spanish Peak
West Spanish Peak is a highly prominent, volcanic summit located west of Walsenburg, CO and stands somewhat separate from the southern Sangre de Cristo Range. The peak has a Class 1 and Class 2 trail most of the way to the summit. The trailhead is accessible to passenger vehicles with close by camping. The views from this summit are expansive and amazing.
W. Spanish Peak SW Ridge Route
Medium Day // Take a Lunch
RT From West Spanish Peak TH:
7.4 mi /
There are two ways from I-25 to reach the Cordova Pass and trailhead. One is from Walsenburg, the other from Trinidad. Both end up on the same state highway, CO12. Most Colorado residents will likely come from the north on I-25 and turn off at Walsenburg. In that case, take exit #50 and follow signage to US160 west. Drive west on US160 about 13 miles to a turnoff to the south for Colorado State Highway 12. This road will head generally SW for nearly 22 miles to Cucharas Pass. Along the way, you'll weave through the town of La Veta followed by the charming little village of Cuchara before reaching the pass. This is a very scenic road that we have ridden on our road bikes. It passes by several interesting geological features created by the volcanic action of the Spanish Peaks like the "Dakota Walls." The road passes through gambel oak country before heading into aspen and conifer forest. At the pass, turn east onto a county/forest service road. The county number is 46. The FS number is 415. This is a maintained, graded road passable most of the time to passenger cars.
If coming from Trinidad, take exit #13 if coming from the north or south. Follow signage generally west through town to CO12. The highway passes by Trinidad Lake State Park and then meanders along the Purgatoire River west to Stonewall. Just past Stonewall, the highway turns north and takes you to the summit of Cucharas Pass, passing Monument Lake and North Lake along the way. The scenery is just as nice as coming in from La Veta. At Cucharas Pass, turn east onto FS 415 as mentioned above. From this turnoff, it's 6 miles to the trailhead.
The graded, gravel road to Cordova Pass receives some maintenance through the year, but it is not plowed regularly during the winter months. The road falls within Huerfano County. The closest road maintenance shop is in La Veta. If you need to check road condition, you can contact the shop at 719-742-3672. The county usually has the road clear of snow & ice by the week before Memorial Day weekend. 4WD drive vehicles can often make it to Cordova Pass in the winter if the snow is not too deep. Often by April, the road is clear enough to reach the trailhead by any vehicle. The following website has links to some webcams where you can get an idea of road conditions at Cucharas Pass. http://www.keno.org/colorado_web_cams/cuchara_cams.htm
The trailhead has several parking spots. There is a $6 fee to park for the day. There are a limited number of campsites at the trailhead which also require a $6 fee. Vault toilets are available. The road and trailhead are on San Isabel National Forest land. The trail route to West Spanish Peak will take hikers into a wilderness area so designated in 2000. The trail # for the peak is #1390.
There are a limited number of campsites at the trailhead with a $6 fee required. Vault toilets are available.
Other fee campgrounds in the vicinity are: Blue Lake and Bear Lake on the west side of CO12 on FR 422 and Pugatoire CG south of Cucharas Pass and back up along the river.
Click thumbnail to view full-size photo + caption
Year Climbed: 1989
From the trailhead, the West Spanish Peak trail heads out in a mostly north direction, then NE, crossing open meadows and sections of forest with several minor ups and downs encountered before it reaches the SW ridge and begins to climb in earnest. This first section is just Class 1 trail walking. Initially, it follows an old road track before becoming a separate and distinguishable trail. Along the way there will be two major, marked trail intersections. Stay on Trail #1390 for West Spanish Peak. At about tree line, there's a large cairn that marks the lower end of the steeper ridge section. Once out of the trees and heading up the ridge, it becomes Class 2 hiking. The trail can be braided at times and at other times, indistinguishable. Just keep going up. Things will top out at a false summit at about 13,500 ft. A more definable trail emerges again and leads NE and east to the rocky summit. Brace yourself for the 360° view. It's amazing. For the return trip, just reverse your route.
Links to other information, routes & trip reports for this peak that may be helpful.
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