Crestone Needle, with an elevation of 14,197 feet, is ranked 19th among Colorado's Fourteeners. This peak in the heart of the Sangre de Cristo Range was the last of Colorado's Fourteeners to be ascended (in 1916), and even its easiest route (the South Face, reached from South Colony Lake via Broken Hand Pass) involves steep terrain and rocky outcrops requiring the use of hands, scrambling, and some tricky moves. Along with Crestone Peak, Kit Carson Mountain, and Humboldt Peak, Crestone Needle is one of the group of four Fourteeners known as "The Crestones." Crestone Peak and Crestone Needle are connected by a ridge which requires scrambling and rope; the two peaks are more often climbed separately.
To reach the trailhead, head south from WestCliffe on Highway 69 for 4.3 miles, then turn right onto Colfax Lane. Follow the Lane to a T in the road and take a right onto Colony Road, a rough 4WD road which you'll follow as far you can to the trailhead (there are several pullouts). The road will be replaced with a hiking trail to the right, which will take you up to lower South Colony Lake. Below the lake, you'll take the trail marked with a sign which turns left, and follow that trail up to Broken Hand Pass. When you reach the summit of the Pass, look for a trail leading west towards the Needle, and follow that trail halfway through a gully before crossing to your left to the next gully, which you'll follow the rest of the way to the Needle's summit.
Be sure to wear a helmet on this hike, due to the danger of falling rock in the gullies.
This page last updated 8/15/06