Hiking La Plata Peak: A Stunning 14er Summit
La Plata Peak is named after ‘the silver’ in Spanish thanks to nearby silver deposits. The mining ghost towns Winfield and Hamilton nearby testify to this silver boom past. Hiking La Plata Peak via its Northwest Ridge is an easy Class 2 scramble to the summit from the north. The trailhead is easy to access from the highway near Independence Pass, so you don’t need a special vehicle to reach it. Start planning your trip with this La Plata Peak Route Guide.
Hiking La Plata Peak Fast Facts
Hiking La Plata Peak - Northwest Ridge Route
You’ll start hiking La Plata Peak at the La Plata Gulch trailhead. From the parking area head across the vehicular bridge and walk along the road for a few hundred feet util you come across to the real entrance to the trail on your left. Don’t park up near this section as you’ll come back to a ticket on your car – it’s a private road. Head left up the route.
Continue through the trees and cross the creek over the well-built bridge less than 1 mile into the route. Enjoy the deep ravine below as you pass and begin to climb up the slope in the section to come.
Shortly after leaving tree line, switchback your way up a gully to gain the northwest ridge of La Plata Peak. Take a right at the top to traverse along the slope before reaching a large flat area around 12,300 feet.
From here you can see much of the climb to come. Climb a steep pitch to the ridge before taking a 1.25 mile hike up to the summit, weaving along as you go.
Along the ridge head to the right to pass up and to the right of a large hump. Once past the hump continue up the ridge before turning left to reach the summit ridge. Finish hiking La Plata Peak by walking up to the mountain’s high point along the ridge.
Once you make it up the summit enjoy your accomplishment! Make sure you leave to head back down with plenty of time to reach tree line by the afternoon. I hope you enjoyed my La Plata Peak Route Guide! Good luck hiking La Plata Peak, and safe travels on the trail.
You should definitely bring along a good topographical map of the La Plata Peak route. If you plan on hiking La Plata Peak, I recommend downloading this map on your phone or other electronic gps device. You should also print it out to bring a backup paper copy in case anything happens to your electronics.
You should thoroughly check the weather conditions before hiking La Plata Peak: check it multiple times and from multiple sources. Be sure to look for temperature highs and lows, wind speed, precipitation, and any major storm systems that may impact the trip. Here are several good weather sources for the La Plata Peak route.
Hiking La Plata Peak is an inherently high-risk activity – do so at your own risk, and use the following best practices to help keep yourself safe.
- Research your route and bring a compass & topographic map.
- Check the weather forecast and stay home during inclement weather.
- Bring the Ten Essentials and the knowledge/skill to use them.
- Leave your plans with someone back home along with a detailed itinerary.
- Start early, and end early: Be back at tree line by noon to avoid lightning.
- Bring a buddy on your first ascent, preferably someone experienced.
Hiking La Plata Peak is an inherently high-risk, dangerous activity. There is a significant risk of injury or death, even with proper planning and experience. Those using my guide accept all risks associated with climbing 14ers and do not hold this website or any information they obtain from it liable for any accidents or injuries that occur while engaging in these activities on Colorado’s high peaks. It is each hiker or climber’s responsibility to research their route carefully, bring the ten essentials, and practice other safe practices, though even these precautions do not eliminate risk and danger. Visit these summits at your own risk.
Alex is a mountaineer and blogger based in Denver, Colorado. He created The Next Summit to help others explore the mountains, stay safe, and preserve the peaks for the future. Subscribe to the Next Summit Newsletter here.