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La Plata Peak

Sawatch Range + Elk Mountains, Colorado

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La Plata Peak

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  • Great campsite next to the South Fork Lake Peak River with views of the Sawatch Range in Colorado.- La Plata Peak
  • South Fork Lake Peak River during sunset. - La Plata Peak
  • View of the South Fork Lake Peak River and La Plata Peak (14,360') on the right. - La Plata Peak
  • After hiking up a dirt road for about a quarter of a mile you will see the trailhead on the left. - La Plata Peak
  • A bridge close to the start of the trail. - La Plata Peak
  • Early morning hiking on the La Plata Peak Trail.- La Plata Peak
  • Plenty of switchbacks farther along the trail.- La Plata Peak
  • This is about half way to the top of La Plata. The trail opens up and the views are spectacular. - La Plata Peak
  • Following the trail along the ridge up to the top. - La Plata Peak
  • Scrambling near 13,500 feet. - La Plata Peak
  • Taking a well deserved breather at the summit of La Plata Peak.- La Plata Peak
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Incredible views. Trailhead is close to the road. Small crowds. Dog friendly.
Cons: 
Steep ascent.
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Region:
Sawatch Range + Elk Mountains, CO
Congestion: 
Low
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Net Elevation Gain: 
4,500.00 ft (1,371.60 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Summer
Suitable for:
Hiking, Biking
Total Distance: 
9.02 mi (14.52 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
10,000.00 ft (3,048.00 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Contributor

La Plata Peak is the fifth-highest summit in the Rocky Mountains. The prominent 14,343-foot peak is located in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness of San Isabel National Forest. The 9.2-mile hike to the summit makes for a very beautiful and very long day; while an excellent hike, this may not be the best choice for your first 14er.

The most popular parking spot for the La Plata Peak Trail is located just off of Highway 82, though the trailhead is actually located about a five-minute walk up 82C, a dirt road leaving to the south that quickly crosses North Fork Lake Creek.

Once on the trail you will quickly cross a bridge where South Fork Lake Creek tumbles into some nice cascades. Turn right on the trail following the bridge. Hike for another half mile through the forest to encounter another stream crossing, after which the grade becomes considerably steeper. You will climb about 1,500 feet over the next few miles before the trail levels off a bit in a valley.

After about a mile in the valley the trail heads up to the top of La Plata Peak with an abundance of switchbacks that lead to a ridge. More switchbacks await, then some scrambling. You'll likely notice several false summits, so stay focused on your destination. As you near the top the trail will cut left to the summit. Congratulations on reaching the fifth-highest 14er in the Rockies!

Note that, as with all Rocky Mountain hikes, afternoon thunderstorms are a common occurrence. Plan to start your hike very early in the day to be safely off of the summit by the time these systems develop.

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(20 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(31 within a 30 mile radius)

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