Uncompahgre Peak Route Guide | A Great 14er Adventure

Uncompahgre Peak is among the most distinctively shaped 14ers in Colorado. The route up to the summit is long and tiring, however you can shave off a good bit of distance with a 4WD vehicle with good clearance. After a fun scramble up the peak’s south ridge, you’ll find yourself 14,000 feet high on the flat summit plateau. Plan your trip to this unique and memorable peak using my Uncompahgre Peak Route Guide.

New to 14ers? Check Out my 14er Beginners Guide Here to Get Started!

Uncompahgre Peak Route Guide Fast Facts

Uncompahgre Peak Route Guide

My Uncompahgre Peak Route Guide starts from the Nellie Creek Trailhead in the San Juans. Set out from the trailhead and hike up the well built trail until you reach tree line. The trail here follows a stream as it weaves through large boulders. The summit of Uncompahgre lies above you far ahead.

Once above the stream you’re treated to one of the best views of the mountain you’ll get on the entire route. The trail heads left ahead of you before climbing to the south ridge of Uncompahgre.

Once up on the ridge, the route ahead becomes a bit more obvious. Your next goal is a series of switchbacks that climbs the slope up to the west face of the peak.

From the top of the switchbacks, you head to the far side of the ridge for a short section along the West Face. The rock here is more loose and dangerous, so take your time and be careful.

Once around the corner, watch for a large rock spire to guide you. You can take a more immediate, steeper line up to the summit plateau above. Or you can take the longer route beyond the spire to the plateau. Pick your line and send it!

This shows some of the terrain on the standard, longer section. You will experience some looser rock on this section. Give climbers plenty of space above you in case they knock down loose rocks.

Just below regaining the ridge, there is loose rock on this short section. This is the crux of the climb. Take your time and you’ll be fine.

Once up on the ridge, the summit plateau lies ahead of you. Hike the last few hundred feet up to the summit to enjoy amazing views of the San Juan Mountains in all directions. 

Once on the summit, enjoy your accomplishment! Take a picture, enjoy a snack, and ensure you get back to tree line before afternoon thunderstorms become a hazard. I hope you enjoyed my Uncompahgre Peak Route Guide.

Uncompahgre Peak Route Guide

My Uncompahgre Peak Route Guide includes this topographical map to use for your climb. I recommend downloading a digital copy of the map on your phone to bring with. I also recommend printing out a paper backup copy in case anything happens to your electronics.

Uncompahgre Peak Standard Route Guide

Besides reviewing this Uncompahgre Peak Route Guide, you should also review the weather forecast several times, from several sources, before you go on your climb. Here are several sources to get starteed with.

Mountain Forecast Uncompahgre Peak

NOAA Weather Forecast Uncompahgre Peak

Uncompahgre Peak Route Guide

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.

  1. Research your route and bring a compass & topographic map.
  2. Check the weather forecast and stay home during inclement weather.
  3. Bring the Ten Essentials and the knowledge/skill to use them.
  4. Leave your plans with someone back home along with a detailed itinerary.
  5. Start early, and end early: Be back at tree line by noon to avoid lightning.
  6. Bring a buddy on your first ascent, preferably someone experienced.


Hiking, scrambling and climbing up Colorado’s high peaks are inherently high-risk, dangerous activities. There is a significant risk of injury or death, even with proper planning and experience. Those using my Uncompahgre Peak Route 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.

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.