Hiking Ellingwood Point | 14er Route Info, Map & Advice
Hiking Ellingwood Point is a fun 14er adventure in the southern Sangre de Christo Range. The peak is named after one of the most most prolific 14er climbers in Colorado history, Albert Ellingwood, who made many of the first ascents in the state (including hiking Ellingwood Point). The standard route up to the summit is a long hike up past Lake Como to ascend via the south face. This is a difficult class 2 with a bit of exposure and more involved route-finding. Before hiking Ellingwood Point, plan your trip with my free route guide below.
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Hiking Ellingwood Point: Fast Facts
Hiking Ellingwood Point - South Face Route
Start hiking Ellingwood Point by driving to the Lake Como Road. This is a notoriously rough road with no clear trailhead, so stop whenever you feel you can’t safely continue at one of numerous pull off areas. As the road quality will get worse, only modified 4WD vehicles can make it to the lake. Hike up the road to reach Lake Como at 11,750 feet. You can camp here for the night if you’re doing a two-day trip. Continue around the lake to pick up the trail.
Past the lake, follow the trail up the basin, and over a series of moraines. You’ll pass several more alpine lakes during this section as you ascend.
Your next goal is to ascend a series of switchbacks climbing along a waterfall. This section still hosts a good trail for hiking, but the scrambling begins soon.
As you near the end of the basin, you’ll face a series of rock ledges to navigate. The trail gets a bit faint here in places but there are many cairns to help guide you through this section. Note the hard left near the top where you turn off the Blanca Peak route towards Ellingwood Point.
There is a large mining hole just above the turning point. Watch for this to help guide you. Follow the faint trail to the ridge before you continue up to the summit.
The ridge below Ellingwood is a good spot to check the weather before you climb the final crux to the summit. It’s close but it’s a solid scramble from here on out so things slow down a bit.
A few hundred feet below the summit you can see some of the large ledges and rocks along the route. Sticking to the cairned route will help you avoid the worse of these along the ridge.
At the top, you’ll have to drop down to cross a notch before regaining the summit proper above you. Take your time making this final move before you reach the final summit!
On the peak, enjoy your accomplishment! Have a snack and water and turn back with plenty of time to reach tree line before noon. I hope you enjoyed my Ellingwood Point Standard Route Guide. Safe travels on the trail, and good luck hiking Ellingwood Point!
Those hiking Ellingwood Point should always bring a map with them. This topographical map of the upper route beyond Lake Como is a great resource for your trip. I recommend downloading a digital copy on your phone and printing out a paper backup copy in case anything happens to your electronics while hiking Ellingwoood Point.
It is important that you check the weather forecast before hiking Ellingwood Point. These two sources are a good place to get started planning ahead.
Mountain Forecast Ellingwood Point
The lower trailhead is located directly off the main highway but is many miles from Lake Como. I recommend driving along Lake Como Road until you cannot make it any further. This is also a great area for dispersed camping before you begin hiking Ellingwood Point.
DIRECTIONS TO THE LAKE COMO ROAD:
From Colorado 160, east of Alamosa, turn north onto Colorado 150 toward Great Sand Dunes National Park. Drive over 3 miles and turn right onto Lake Como road (aka Blanca Peak road). The type of vehicle you are driving will determine how high you can park on Lake Como road.
Most cars can drive about 1.5 miles up before it gets rough. 4WD SUVs and trucks can slowly make it 3.25 miles to several pull-offs at 8,800′, before the road turns nasty. This is a popular parking spot and gets you within 4 miles of Lake Como. If you have a high-clearance, small, 4WD vehicle you might be able to drive to approximately 10,000′. An ATV or modified jeep/crawler can get to Lake Como but it depends on the driver.
The right gear is important for hiking Ellingwood Point if you want to stay safe and give yourself the best chance for success. This starts with dependable hiking boots that have good traction for handling the rocky slopes found here. These are my top recommendations for footwear.
You always should bring the ten essentials with you while hiking Ellingwood Point and other fourteeners. A backpack will help you store them all during your trip as well. Here are several dependable bags, depending on your needs.
I always use trekking poles for fourteeners. They provide balance on the rocks and during stream crossings and help me use my upper body strength to support my legs and core. These are the best trekking poles for hiking Ellingwood Point and similar peaks.
Lastly, if you plan to spend a lot of time in the mountains you should consider a personal locator beacon or satellite messenger device. They can help you call for help if something goes wrong even if you do not have a cell signal. These are some of the best models for those hiking and climbing fourteeners.
Looking for more gear advice? Visit my full Gear Review Page to see all my recommendations for the fourteeners and beyond.
Camping near Ellingwood Point:
There are also many dispersed camping opportunities along Lake Como Road ideal for those hiking Ellingwood Point. Learn more about dispersed camping near 14ers here.
Lodging near Ellingwood Point:
There are many cabins available via Airbnb and other services in Alamosa and the surrounding area, ideal for those hiking Ellingwood Point.
Eellingwood Point gets a lot of traffic due to the Lake Como Road. This increases the impact on the alpine tundra on this peak. Help preserve this mountain and area while hiking Ellingwood Point by following these Leave No Trace practices:
- Plan ahead, review the route, and pick a weekday or day in September to hike.
- Stay on the trail, and keep dogs leashed on and off-trail to reduce trampling of alpine grass.
- Leave your Bluetooth speaker at home and let nature’s sound reign.
- Urinate off-trail, and pack out your waste – a cathole won’t work at high altitude.
- Give wildlife a wide berth – 100 meters if possible. If they approach, back up to keep space.
- Take nothing but pictures, and leave nothing but footprints.
Safe travels, and good luck hiking Ellingwood Point! Learn more about LNT on 14ers here.
As noted above, Ellingwood Point is named after Albert Ellingwood. He made many first ascents of Colorado high peaks, including hiking Ellingwood Point himself. The summit shares a ridge with the slightly taller Blanca Peak, and is also close to Mount Lindsey and Little Bear Peak. It’s one of the most difficult class 2 peaks in the state due to the long approach and exposed ridge climb. As a result, many people choose to climb the peak over 2 days.
The area around Ellingwood Point and Blanca Peak was heavily mined and prospected during the late 19th century. The Lake Como Road was originally built for mule trains that brought out ore to the San Luis Valley for smelting. Today you will pass multiple mining relics, cabins and old prospecting holes, symbols of this bygone era.
Hiking Ellingwood Point 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.
NEW TO 14ERS? CHECK OUT MY BEGINNERS GUIDE FOR A SAFE FIRST SUMMIT!
Hiking Ellingwood Point 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 an Eagle Scout, climber, and environmental policy expert located in Denver, Colorado. He created The Next Summit to help others stay safe exploring the mountains and advocate to preserve the peaks for the future. Follow him on Linkedin or Twitter or click here to contact him.