Click here for a Mapquest map of Kit Carson Peak (Map says "Challenger Point," but they're only half a mile apart)
Kit Carson Peak, with an elevation of 14,165 feet, is the 23rd highest peak in the state of Colorado. Kit Carson Mountain (which, like the peak, is named after the famous frontiersman) also includes Challenger Point and an unnamed peak sometimes referred to as "Kat Carson." Most of the mountain was transferred from private to public ownership with a purchase to expand the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in 2004. Many climbers ascend Challenger Point first, then walk along a ledge called "Kit Carson Avenue" to a gully which involves Class 3 climbing to Kit Carson Peak. Kit Carson Peak is known for its views of the San Luis Valley and Crestone Peak.
To reach the trailhead for the most popular route (involving a 12-mile round trip, and an ascent of Challenger Point first), head east from the south end of the town of Moffat into the town of Crestone via road T, until you see a sign on the right for Willow Creek Trailhead. Turn right and follow this paved road which becomes rough dirt through to the parking lot which most vehicles can reach.
Kit Carson can also be reached from the South Colony Lakes. To reach that trailhead, head south from Westcliffe on Highway 69 for 4.3 miles, then turn right onto Colfax Lane (Colorado 119). 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, and a parking lot after 1.5 miles). The road will be replaced with a hiking trail to the right, which will take you up to lower South Colony Lake. From there, you'll traverse a ridge and plateau to Kit Carson Peak.
Beware of an ice patch on the peak's rugged north face. Also beware of lightning; storms form quickly in the Sangre de Cristo Range and
have killed climbers with lightning strikes as recently as 2003.
This page last updated 8/15/06