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San Luis Peak via the CT: Summiting Colorado's most remote fourteener

Updated: May 12


San Luis Peak, Colorado

Rated a Class 1 trail, San Luis isn't technically difficult. However, as the most remote Colorado 14er, the logistics of simply getting within shouting distance of this peak are challenging. If you happen be thru-hiking the Colorado Trail (CT), however, it's a simple 3-mile detour from the main trail. And if peak bagging is in your blood, that is an opportunity you cannot pass up.


 

Trail Info

San Luis Peak via Colorado Trail Info

Know before you go

  • Following this route to San Luis is not one of the standard routes. While this route does follow the final 3 miles of the South Ridge approach, doing this out and back as a day hike would be quite a bit longer than the standard routes (11.25 miles for South Ridge, 13. miles for Northeast Ridge). My recommendation is to only bag from this route if you're already on the CT.

  • This is a Colorado 14er, so take proper precautions. There are plenty of resources out there for how to minimize risk when summiting these high peaks. Start early, keep an eye on the weather, and aim to be below treeline before noon.

Standard route links



 


The Trail



San Luis Peak via Colorado Trail

While my journey to get here started back in Denver as part of the CT, this post will begin at the Stewart Creek Trailhead, which is the closest place you could theoretically park your car if you chose to do this route as a day-hike (again I don't recommend).


San Luis Peak via Colorado Trail

The trail from here is a long gradual ascent to the approach to San Luis. It's a mix of some open fields like this.


San Luis Peak via Colorado Trail

And some somewhat shaded forest sections. Something that stood out to me about this section were the number of dead trees, likely a result of bark beetles.


San Luis Peak via Colorado Trail

You may be greeted with some "wildlife" along this stretch of trail as well. I was happy to see that these cows were downstream of where I'd be filling my water later.


San Luis Peak via Colorado Trail

Around mile 338 (on the CT) is an open field, less than 4 miles from the San Luis summit. This is where I and a few other thru-hikers set up camp for the night. It's a bit more exposed than you'd like, but it was relatively flat, had a nearby water source, and was nowhere near the dead trees (which are dangerous to sleep near). All in all, a solid camp spot!


San Luis Peak via Colorado Trail

I woke up early the next day to try and bag San Luis just after sunrise. This trail was very easy to navigate, but it's important to point out the junction to San Luis, which is marked by a rather nondescript pole. The turn is rather obvious though, especially if you have a map downloaded. Head right to begin the approach to San Luis (left continues along the CT).


San Luis Peak via Colorado Trail

The approach starts gradually.


San Luis Peak via Colorado Trail

But soon it gets steeper and the rocks get larger. The path to the summit is straightforward. Follow the rock cairns and/or the beaten down zig-zagging path.


San Luis Peak via Colorado Trail

For such a short-distance 14er, this one felt like it had an outsized number of false summits. Even at 300+ miles into the CT, those false peaks still demoralize me.


San Luis Peak via Colorado Trail
San Luis Peak via Colorado Trail

But the good news is, if you start early, you can catch the sunrise as you catch your breath. These 14er golden hour views never get old.


San Luis Peak via Colorado Trail

Fellow CT hikers Five Pairs and Navigator making that final push to the top.


San Luis Peak via Colorado Trail

Summitted! Nothing like these views to start your day.


San Luis Peak via Colorado Trail

For me though, this was just the beginning of a very long day that would include getting hailed on, running from thunderstorms, but ultimately sleeping in a warm bed in Lake City that night. Never a dull day out on the CT!



 


SS Reflections

Similar to when I summited Mount Massive, this was an opportunity 14er. Given it was 3 mile detour versus a logistical nightmare from Denver made this an easy choice. As I continue to tick 14ers off my list, comparing the beauty of each summit becomes harder and harder. But one thing's for sure, it will be a satisfying journey to the top every time.


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