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Pets allowed
Allowed
Elevation Gain
?
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
9.02 mi (14.52 km)
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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.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Summer

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

Not Required

Pros

Incredible views. Trailhead is close to the road. Small crowds. Dog friendly.

Cons

Steep ascent.

Trailhead Elevation

10,000.00 ft (3,048.00 m)

Net Elevation Gain

4,500.00 ft (1,371.60 m)

Features

Backcountry camping
Mountaineering
Rock climbing
Big vistas
Fishing
Geologically significant

Suitable for

Biking

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

Comments

There is an outstanding and less traveled loop option for this 14er that traverses the saw-like ridge to the east. Make sure to know semi-technical route finding and first aid. A light rope, and knowledge of its use would be a good call too. Turns the trip into a long day.
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