SECTION 5 - COCHETOPA VALLEY

SECTION 5 - MARSHALL PASS TO SAN LUIS PASS

Moderate Difficulty with 1 Advanced Day
Highest Elevation Point for Week - 12,600
Lowest Elevation Point for Week - 9,340

Start Date Description Miles Elevation Gain Elevation Loss
Day 1 Meet for Week - South Fork      
Day 2 Marshall Pass to Sargents Mesa 15.2 3,080 1,226
Day 3 Sargents Mesa to Lujan Creek 17.8 2,440 1,650
Day 4 Lujan Creek to Saguache Park Road 16.2 1,220 1,500
Day 5 Saguache Park Road to Eddiesville 13.7 1,660 543
Day 6 Eddiesville to San Luis Pass - Disperse 15.5 2,960 1,850
  TOTALS 78.4 11,360 6,769

 

 


Day One…begins at Marshall Pass, site of a historic race to establish a railroad from Denver to Salt Lake City. Departing from our camp at an elevation of 10,880 feet, we will follow a series of mountain ridges, hiking alternately through lodgepole pine forests and high alpine meadows with sweeping views. After lunch, we will descend into the valley of Tank Seven Creek (the name is all that remains of this former Denver and Rio Grande station) before our afternoon ascent onto Sargents Mesa. This is a beautiful campsite, at 11,600 feet, overlooking a gigantic meadow with a magnificent 270-degree vista, including Mount Ouray. Sometimes we see elk grazing beyond camp!

Day Two…the most difficult day from Sargents Mesa to Lujan Creek. It is almost 18 miles long and the elevation gains are at the very end! Starting at Sargents Mesa, the CT goes west on, a forested spine of mountain, for miles before descending to Razor Creek. Then there are three more hills to conquer before descending into camp at the Spanish Divide, for some well-deserved cold drinks and hot appetizers!

Day Three…we descend into the grasslands of the Cochetopa Valley. This middle section of our journey gives the variety that makes this week so unique. With elevations averaging “only” in the 9,000’s it is nice to stride out through the rolling terrain and enjoy the spacious views. We’ll be on the lookout for pronghorns and hidden groves of bristlecone amidst the tall grasses and sporadic, shade providing, trees. On this day, we return to our camp at the Spanish Divide, which makes for a relaxing afternoon.

Day Four… after breaking camp, we will continue our journey up the Cochetopa Valley. A quick climb through aspens in the morning brings us to Cochetopa Creek, which we’ll follow for the remainder of the day. In the afternoon, we’ll cross to the north side of the creek, and stroll into the La Garita Wilderness. Gorgeous views down at the creek often yield beaver and trout sightings, possibly even moose! We end up the day at the Eddiesville trailhead (not an actual town). 

Day Five…beginning at an elevation of 10,320, we will hike through more of the La Garita Wilderness to a 12,600 foot pass just south of San Luis Peak. The views here are incredible and inspiring, and will continue as we stay above timberline for another six miles before descending to our trail’s end below San Luis Pass. 

The trip will end with a short (45 minute) shuttle back to your vehicle in South Fork at approximately 6:30 pm. No camping or meals will be provided this night. Make lodging reservations in SouthFork.

For this week, we will stay at the same campsite on Tuesday and Wednesday night.