Humboldt Peak Route Guide | Best 14er Summit Views in the Sangres
Humboldt Peak isn’t a particularly exciting climbs, but it boasts some of the best views from its summit in the southern Colorado Rockies. From the peak you’ll be treated to stunning overviews of the Crestones to the east, the Blanca group to the South, the Sawatch to the North, and the plains below. The trip is much further if you need to park in the 2WD trailhead – take your time on the 4WD as it is extremely rough. I recommend making it a two day trip with an overnight at South Colony Lakes. Here’s a great place to get started researching in my Humboldt Peak Route Guide.
Humboldt Peak Route Fast Facts
Humboldt Peak Route Guide
My Humboldt Peak Route Guide starts at the parking lot. From the trailhead, head out on the well-built trail to the west. There’s a trail log you can sign with your name and destination to help leave your mark in an eco-friendly way! Then continue over a well-built cedar bridge and on to what was the old road to the former upper trailhead.
Follow the road for about 2.5 miles as it winds through the forest. Eventually Broken Hand Pass will come into view ahead of you, and you’ll get glimpses of Humboldt Peak rising above to your right through the woods. When you come to a trail junction 2.5 miles in, take a right.
Hike up this well-maintained and constructed trail as you head towards South Colony Lakes. There are several creek crossings and there may be snowfields during spring and early summer. You’ll pass through several rocky talus fields – follow the cairns for the easiest route through. Enjoy the view of the Crestone Needle above!
You’ll next come to South Colony Lake, a great place to spend the night if you’re doing Humboldt as an overnight trip. If not, continue on the trail, or take a short diversion to refill water and enjoy the view. Pass Upper South Colony Lake next, and then take a hard right.
The next section is definitely one of the toughest – a series of switchbacks of a section of gentle slope on Humboldt’s south side. Take your time going up and take breaks to enjoy the views behind you of Broken Hand Pass.
Once up on the saddle, turn right and head up the West ridge. The trail gets much more rocky here, however it continues for the majority of the ridge until you reach close to the top.
Once you reach the final section, navigate to the right of the steep cliffs on Humboldt’s north side, aiming for the summit hump several hundred feet ahead of you.
The final crux of the climb is a 60 foot outcropping on which the summit lies. To avoid difficult climbing, aim right and gain the outcropping there on ledges before climbing back up left to reach the summit.
Once you’ve made it, enjoy it! Humboldt Peak is no easy 14er, you should be proud. I hope you enjoyed my Humboldt Peak Route Guide. For more info, click here.
No Humboldt Peak Route Guide is complete without a topographical map. I recommend downloading this to your phone and also printing a backup paper copy in case anything happens to your electronics.
Below are several links to weather forecasts for the Humboldt Peak Route. It’s a good idea to check several different sources when checking the weather for your climb. Be wary of high winds, storm systems, snow or ice forecast during or directly after your trip. Adjust your packing list and itinerary accordingly to limit your risk.
Hiking & climbing 14ers 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.
Humboldt Peak is named after Alexander Humboldt, an early geographer, scientist and mountaineer who travelled the world and accomplished many first summits of volcanoes and peaks in South America and the Andes.
Originally, the Southern Colony Lakes trailhead was located high in the basin, allowing for relatively short day ascents up the Humboldt Peak route. However in the early 2000’s the upper trailhead was closed to reduce damage to the fragile alpine ecosystem. Today, most people take two days to climb Humboldt Peak, with a base camp near south colony lakes. The effort is worth the view of the Crestones from the summit.
I am working on adding historical information to my Humboldt Peak Route Guide. Check back for more information about this famous peak to learn about its geology, history, and the Humboldt Peak route in general.
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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.