Ellingwood Point is a challenging 14,048-foot peak in the Blanca Massif of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Rising dramatically from the San Luis Valley below, this 14er is one of several in the area, including Blanca Peak, Little Bear Peak, and Mount Lindsey. Most people climb to the summit from Lake Como, the eastern approach and easiest route. However, Ellingwood Peak is still one of the most challenging class 2 14ers in the state due to its length, elevation gain, difficult route-finding, and its distance far from Denver. However, the effort is worth it: the views are spectacular, and you are unlikely to have more than a few other people on the route too.
Learn what you need to know to reach the summit safely below in my Ellingwood Point Hiking Guide.
Hiking Ellingwood Point: Fast Facts
CAUTION: This Route is Hazardous!
You are responsible for your personal safety in the backcountry.
These peaks can be unpredictable and dangerous. Help is often hours or days away: your safety is primarily your responsibility. Prepare for your trek, understand your limits, be aware of the risks, and equip yourself with the necessary skills and gear.
Hiking Ellingwood Point - South Face Route
If this is your first fourteener, here are some tips on how to use this Route Guide:
- Start by reading the route description and looking at the map and route photos.
- Check the weather forecast and current conditions to plan and pack appropriately.
- I’ve included trailhead info and nearby camping and lodging options to plan your travel.
- Lastly, remember to review our Leave No Trace tips, mountain safety guidelines, and the permits and regulations for the area around Ellingwood Point.
Safe travels on the trails!
Start hiking Ellingwood Point by driving to the Lake Como Road. You can read my Lake Como approach guide here.
After you reach Lake Como follow the trail along the left side of the lake, cross the creek, and start climbing 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.
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.
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.