You’ve taken Barr Trail from Manitou Springs to the top of America’s Mountain. You’ve conquered Grays and Torreys in a single day. Your fourteener passport even includes the rare air of Mount Elbert, at 14,433 feet the highest peak in Colorado.
But perhaps you’re looking for a tougher test. Not one named Longs, Capitol or Little Bear, but one that ventures into more difficult terrain than Pikes Peak.
Look no further than Humble Humboldt. This mountain in southern Colorado is a great introduction to Class 2 climbing and the easiest (by far) in the Crestone group of the Sangre de Cristo range.
While its nickname might suggest a laid-back experience, Humboldt requires some route-finding and also presents the possibility of danger due to moderate exposure and potential rockfall.
From the upper trailhead (the lower trailhead tacks on a hefty amount of mileage and elevation gain), follow the four-wheel-drive road along the creek and through the trees. After 2.5 miles, veer right at the junction and follow the singletrack to South Colony Lakes.
With Crestone Needle towering above and a herd of bighorn sheep often lounging near the shore, it’s a quintessential Colorado postcard. Enjoy it for a while, but the crux of the hike awaits.
The trail switchbacks above treeline to the ridge. Follow the path east to rock outcroppings frequented by marmots. From here, be on the lookout for cairns and segments of trail that will guide you first to the false summit and then on to the top.
Relish the stunning views and return the way you came.
Trip log: 11.5 miles round trip (from upper trailhead), 4,295 feet elevation gain, 14,064 feet max
Getting there: From Interstate 25, drive south on Nevada Avenue (Colorado 115) for 38 miles to Florence. Turn left on Colorado 67 and go 11 miles to Wetmore. Turn right on Colorado 96 and follow 26 miles to Westcliffe. Turn left on Colorado 69 and drive 4.5 miles to Colfax Lane. Turn right and go 5.5 miles to end of road. Then turn right and follow to trailheads.
FYI: High-clearance, 4WD vehicle needed to reach upper trailhead. Dogs on leash. No restrooms at trailhead.
NATHAN VAN DYNE, THE GAZETTE