San Luis Peak Standard Route Guide

San Luis Peak is a bit of a paradox. While it’s one of the only Class 1 hikes in the San Juans, its also one of the longest and most difficult to reach. Theres a long, rough approach road followed by a 13.5 mile route. Don’t be fooled by the Class rating – take your time for this ascent, preferably my doing it over two days and camping near treeline. Here’s what you need to know in my San Luis Peak Standard Route Guide.

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San Luis Peak Fast Facts

  • Standard Route: Northeast Ridge
  • Trailhead: Stewart Creek
  • Elevation Gain: 3,600 feet
  • Round-Trip Distance: 13.5 Miles
  • Difficulty Level: Class 1 Hik
  • Range: San Juan Range

San Luis Peak Standard Route Guide

Start out from the trailhead up a solid trail that goes along and up Stewart Creek. From the start and for a good time you won’t be able to see the summit. 

San Luis Peak Standard Route Guide

After several miles, make it to the far end of the basin. The headwall to the summit ridge lies far ahead of you. Continue above tree line as you continue towards it and to the right.

San Luis Peak Standard Route Guide

Continue over a hump before you turn left and begin climbing switchbacks up the ridge.

San Luis Peak Standard Route Guide

The switchbacks up to the ridge-line are steep and rocky. Take your time, but be assured it remains a hike and scrambling is never required. The saddle is a good place to stop and check the weather before you decide whether to continue along the ridge.

San Luis Peak Standard Route Guide

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San Luis Peak Standard Route Guide

Begin first along the left side of the ridge, avoiding the more difficult terrain above you. You’re aiming for a notch in the ridge below the summit where you switch from one side to the other. 

San Luis Peak Standard Route Guide

Once through the notch, continue along the right side of the ridge as you finish the final crux climb to the summit. Enjoy your accomplishment at the top – San Luis Peak is NO easy hike! I hope you enjoyed my San Luis Peak Standard Route Guide.

San Luis Peak Standard Route Guide

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About the Author: Alex Derr

Alex Derr is a mountaineer and blogger based in Denver Colorado. He is working to climb Colorado’s highest 100 peaks, and the 20 tallest peaks in California. He created The Next Summit to share advice, stories, history & reflections from the Colorado Rockies & Sierra Nevada. When not climbing, he is managing the Communications strategy at Visible Network Labs.