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Hiking San Luis Peak

Hiking San Luis Peak | 14er Route Info, Map & Advice

San Luis Peak is a bit of a paradox. While it is one of the only Class 1 hikes in the San Juans, it is also one of the longest and most challenging to reach. There’s a long, rough approach road followed by a 13.5-mile route. Don’t be fooled by the low class rating. Take your time for this ascent, preferably by doing it over two days and camping near the treeline. Here’s what you need to know before hiking San Luis Peak in the San Juan Mountains of southern Colorado.

NEW TO 14ERS? CHECK OUT MY BEGINNERS GUIDE FOR A SAFE FIRST SUMMIT!

Hiking San Luis Peak: Fast Facts

TAKE CARE & STAY SAFE!

You are responsible for your own 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 San Luis Peak - Northeast Ridge

Begin hiking San Luis Peak at the Stewart Creek trailhead. Start out from the parking area along a solid trail that goes along and up Stewart Creek. From the start and for a good time you won’t be able to see the summit. 

After several miles, make it to the far end of the basin. The headwall to the summit ridge lies far ahead of you. Continue above tree line as you continue towards it and to the right.

Continue over a hump before you turn left and begin climbing switchbacks up the ridge.

The switchbacks up to the ridge-line are steep and rocky. Take your time, but be assured it remains a hike and scrambling is never required. The saddle is a good place to stop and check the weather before you decide whether to continue along the ridge.

Begin first along the left side of the ridge, avoiding the more difficult terrain above you. You’re aiming for a notch in the ridge below the summit where you switch from one side to the other. 

Once through the notch, continue along the right side of the ridge as you finish the final crux climb to the summit. Enjoy your accomplishment at the top – San Luis Peak is NO easy hike! I hope you enjoyed my San Luis Peak Route Guide.

San Luis Peak Route Guide

My San Luis Peak Route Guide includes this handy map of the route to bring with you. I recommend downloading it on your phone and printing out a backup copy in case anything happens to your electronics along the way.

San Luis Peak Standard Route Guide

Below is the complete forecast for San Luis Peak from the National Weather Service. I recommend reading it thoroughly before you attempt hiking San Luis Peak so that you can plan accordingly.

This trailhead is not accessible in the winter and spring when there is still significant snow on the ground. Plan accordingly.

DIRECTIONS TO THE TRAILHEAD

Follow CO-114 W to County Rd NN 14. Continue on County Rd NN 14. Drive to County Rd 14 DD. Turn left onto County Rd NN 14. After 7 miles, turn right onto County Rd 15 GG. Continue for 4.2 miles and then continue on to continue straight onto County Rd 14 DD. Drive 12 miles, then turn left to stay on County Rd 14 DD. Drive 3.7 miles and the trailhead will be on your right.
 
NOTE: This trailhead is remote, rough to reach, and requires several creek crossings. Do not attempt it without proper preparation, 4WD skill and experience.

There are a few types of gear you will need while hiking San Luis Peak if you want to increase your chance of a safe and successful ascent. Here’s what I recommend bringing with you for this fourteener.

Read all of my gear reviews and recommendations by clicking here.

Camping near San Luis Peak:

There are very few campgrounds in this remote area, however there is plentiful dispersed camping along the road that leads to the trailhead, along with the Palisade Campgrounds you can try as well.

Lodging near San Luis Peak:

There are many cabins available via Airbnb and other services in Creede and Saguache, and the surrounding area, ideal for those hiking San Luis Peak.

San Luis Peak is located in a pristine wilderness area that faces an increasing number of visitors with each passing year. Help preserve these peaks for future generations by following these Leave No Trace practices while hiking Windom Peak.

  • 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 San Luis Peak! Learn more about LNT on 14ers here.

More info coming soon.

Hiking San Luis Peak 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.

NEW TO 14ERS? CHECK OUT MY BEGINNERS GUIDE FOR A SAFE FIRST SUMMIT!

Hiking San Luis 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.

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Notice: The material presented in this route guide may not be comprehensive or precise and should not be solely relied upon when planning your climb. Inadequate experience, physical fitness, supplies, or equipment may result in injury or fatality.

The Next Summit and the author(s) of this hiking guide offer no guarantees, neither explicit nor implied, regarding the accuracy or dependability of the information provided.

By utilizing the information herein, you agree to indemnify and absolve The Next Summit and the hiking guide author(s) from any claims and demands against them, including any legal fees and expenses. 

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Alex Derr, Founder of The Next Summit

Alex Derr 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.

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In 2018, I watched in disbelief as dozens of people hiked into a storm on Longs Peak, unaware of the extreme danger. Soon after, I started The Next Summit to educate and empower the public to safely and responsibly explore America's mountains.

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