Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
3,096.00 ft (943.66 m)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
9.15 mi (14.73 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Some mountains in the Indian Peaks Wilderness are blessed, and others are given the short end of the stick. Satanta Peak falls into both buckets. The views and solitude that can be found on this 9-mile round-trip from Fourth of July Trailhead are superb to put mildly, but the thing just can’t catch a break as the summit sits at 11,979 feet, just 21 feet from being a 12er. Let this misfortune not deter you from setting out to tackle this peak. Straddling the northern side of Caribou Pass, the sweeping vistas from this peak cut into the heart of the western Indian Peaks Wilderness and give a glamorous look at the often unseen faces of some of the highest peaks in the park. The southwest faces of Apache and Navajo peaks, along with the western faces of South and North Arapaho peaks, can all be seen here in spectacular fashion.

Starting from Fourth of July Trailhead, which requires a car with good clearance, dry conditions, and a lot of patience, start along the Arapaho Pass Trail. You’ll find two intersections before getting to Arapaho Pass for Diamond Lake and Arapaho Glacier; just keep pressing on until reaching Arapaho Pass. Once cresting the pass you’ll see Satanta Peak in the distance. It doesn’t look like much next to the rugged cliffs and spiky summits all around you, but the views are worth continuing. The pass is a good place to turn around if it looks like bad weather is setting in.

The sign at Arapaho Pass tells of Caribou Pass to the left; turn left here as the trail to the right continues the Arapaho Pass Trail down into the valley and away from your objective. Shortly afterward you’ll see a trail heading along the balcony skirting the north side of Mount Neva and another that goes up toward the north shoulder of Mount Neva. Depending on conditions you may choose one or the other. The shoulder certainly has nicer views, but it involves a lot more climbing and descending. The balcony trail may have dangerous snow conditions depending on the time of year, and it isn’t a place for people with a fear of heights, so choose carefully.

Once across to Caribou Pass it becomes a simple matter to follow the south ridge of Satanta Peak, which involves a leisurely stroll through a grassy meadow until reaching the cairn at the summit. Soak in the views as long as you like and return the way you came. Consider taking the alternate route between Caribou and Arapaho pass if the conditions are right.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Summer
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Less crowded peak. Great views. Wildflowers.

Cons

Difficult trailhead access.

Trailhead Elevation

10,122.00 ft (3,085.19 m)

Highest point

11,979.00 ft (3,651.20 m)

Net Elevation Gain

2,405.00 ft (733.04 m)

Features

Vault toilet
Backcountry camping
Mine
Waterfalls
Big vistas
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Comments

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