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South Colony Lakes Trailhead
Added by BillMiddlebrook

Location:  Sangre de Cristo Range
14ers Served:  Humboldt Peak, Crestone Needle, Crestone Peak
Road Type:  Easy 4WD, good clearance recommended. 3   (0=Paved, 6=Very Difficult 4WD)
Easy 2WD dirt to the lowest trailhead. Easy 4WD (good-clearance required) dirt to the upper trailhead.
Directions:  Take Colorado 69 south from Westcliffe. Drive 4.5 miles and turn right on Colfax Lane. Drive 5.5 miles to the end of Colfax. Turn right and drive 1 mile on a dirt road to a junction. Continue straight up the 120 Road for 0.3 mile to the Lower 2WD Trailhead at 8,800. To reach the Upper 4WD Trailhead, continue 2.7 miles to parking/camp spots before the first river crossing, near 9,900. In 2009, the South Colony Lakes road was permanently closed here (gate) and this is the current trailhead. The trail starts next to the trailhead kiosk, in the parking area.
Winter Access:  Usually closed near the lower TH at the bottom of the road.
14er Trailheads on Google Maps
Date Status Information Posted By  Photos  Comments Likes Dislikes    
2009-05-27 Talked to Ranger Jeff Outhier from Westcliffe yesterday. South Colony road will be open all summer, but closed permanently in October 2009 just past the Rainbow TH. Alan Ellis         
2009-05-22 I drove my forester 3.8 miles past the first private property sign (and parking area). This is 1.2 miles past the first stream crossing. We saw a Dodge Ram truck stuck in some mud, but this is avoidable. They turned around in an unlucky spot. There is a tree down at 10,650‘ on the road (not far from where I parked) and I think it will need a chain saw and/or strong arm. dubsho3000         
2009-05-12 As of 5/10 the road is drivable for about 1.9 miles from the 2wd parking, to just below the Rainbow Trail. tmahon         
2009-04-25 Was able to make it to about 9100‘ on S Colony Rd. Hiked 500 yards in mud/dirt/snow mix. From there, about 4 more miles of snow. Snowmobile/snowshoe access only. Didn‘t have snowshoes, and it was not pleasant. South Colony Creek is melting fairly well, so be prepared with waterproof shoes. darklich14         
2008-11-24 The road is still mostly clear dirt for the first mile, then quickly alternates between snow and super-slick ice. The icy portions are in pretty large patches. The major creek crossings are iced over with a thin layer of what I thought looked like 12 inches at the deepest. I don‘t have a lot of experience with 4WD vehicles, but I couldn‘t see how any vehicle could make it all the way to the 4WD TH. I just parked at the 2WD TH and hiked the whole way in. Will try to get a trip report up soon under Humboldt Peak with some photos. George Kaplan         
2008-09-15 With all the recent snow I thought I would update the status of the Colony Lakes TH. It is still clear and mostly dry, and the creek crossings are really of very little consequence if your SUV has decent clearance. I will warn of one nasty section immediately below the final creek crossing to the upper TH. I saw/heard at least a half dozen vehicles bottom out pretty aggresively right before crossing the river (or right after the crossing as they were descending the road) Take it slow here. I also saw a Subaru almost the entire way up the road, but it looked as if its lower right end had been completely obliterated. Take it slow and if your car doesn‘t have great clearance, don‘t destroy it.  ossie322         
2008-09-09 Reviewed all the previous postings about the conditions of S. Colony Lakes "road" to the TH and planned to drive as far as I could in a 2002 Honda CRV. Road conditions from the 2WD parking lot to the first stream crossing would be passable by most vehicles (cars, trucks, SUV‘s). Afterwards, I saw mostly vehicles with higher clearances that had successfully navigated the rockier terrain. I was able to drive my CRV to 10.7 miles (of the total 12.5 length) and walk the remainder of the trail to the TH. After 10.7 miles, the road becomes much more technical that a light weight SUV would not be able to handle (unless you hate your vehicle...) Conditions were dry as of 10/6-10/7/08. Good luck! rleclair         
2008-09-01 As a reference, I‘ve made it to the end of the South Colony Lakes road twice before it was "improved" (in a stock Xterra), and I just did the drive again after it was "improved" today (in the rain and the dark). Based on that, here‘s my opinion of the road, as it is now: All of the cruxes (3 or 4 of them, as I remember) have been blasted away ... but keep in mind, the road is still pretty rough, rocky and rutted. High clearance and/or driver skill/experience is definitely recommended. Today, I did see one Subaru near the end of the road, but I imagine one of the following: a.) the driver is a professional and deserves some sort of award, b.) the driver took FOREVER to get up there, as he must‘ve had to cautiously and carefully place tires constantly, and/or he bottomed out many times, or c.) he‘s insane and/or doesn‘t care about his car at all. By the way, regardless of what you hear, I‘d advise against taking 2WD and/or low-clearance vehicles to the end of this road. Halfway, perhaps, but personally I wouldn‘t go any further. As of 9/1/08, streams seemed to be running a little deeper than normal, but then again it was raining on me at the time. Aubrey         
2008-08-06 On Friday (8/1/200, I drove my stock 2006 Toyota Tacoma (w/ Off Road Package) to the 4WD TH without too much trouble. I‘m a novice off road driver, so I just took it slow and had Sarah spot me in a few sections. The final creek crossing right at the 4WD TH was less than 12-in deep. All creek crossings down lower were 6-in deep or shallower. It exactly one hour for us to get from the 2WD TH to the 4WD TH. CincyBearcats         
2008-07-14 No problem driving my Suburban to the end of the road. The final river crossing was only about 15 inches deep. BillMiddlebrook         
2008-07-12 My Jeep Liberty and a Toyota Highlander, both non-modified made it to the top. iowa_born         
2008-07-03 Rough but passable, Water crossing is probably at 2-3 feet, Gate at the top parking lot half exposed. Cheesehead         
2008-06-17 Road is passable in 4WD up the 4WD parking area. Road seems to have been improved since 2 years ago, not quite as rough as it used to be. The gate and the trail head sign are just now starting to peek through the snow. Access from the TH to South Colony Lakes is via the snow, the trail is still completely covered, and will remain that way for at least 2 more weeks. Snow between the trees up to the lake varies from 10-30‘ deep in standard snow slide areas, to as little as 2-4 feet. Schroder         
2008-06-09 Road is passable to the 2nd major stream crossing about 1 mile from the end of the road. Still a lot of big snowdrifts in the last mile. 12ersRule         
2008-06-01 Hiked to South Colony Lakes today. Any 2WD with some clearance can get to the rainbow trail. Road becomes unpassible due to large snow drifts 1 to 1.5 miles past the large creek crossing. The creek is running high, so expect to get your shoes wet trying to cross it if you do not drive across. cpittman         
2008-05-26 The South Colony lakes road is still socked in with snow. You can drive about 2 miles beyond the lower parking lot (almost to the Rainbow Trailhead). After that, you can hike without snowshoes the additional 3.5 miles to the upper trailhead. There are several great parking/camping spots where the road becomes impassable. I would estimate the snow is about 10+ feet deep at the upper trailhead. Snowshoes are mandatory beyond the upper trailhead and a few of the slopes are sketchy, so be aware of avalanche danger. I don‘t see this road being clear until late June! Kinesiologyman         
2008-05-22 South Colony Road Update (May 22, 200: The entire road will be open all the way to the upper parking lot through the fall of 2009. In the fall of 2009, the road will be permenantly closed about halfway up. This information was confirmed by ranger Jeff Outhier who is located at the Westcliffe Forest Service office. Alan Ellis         
2008-05-04 You can now get around the fallen tree to the left, but only about 1/4 mile up the road. The snow is melting fast, and should to be able to make it much further up the road very soon. Georgie         
2008-04-19 Zero snow to 2WD parking lot. Recommend parking at 2WD parking lot, as road almost entirely covered with slushy snow inside the trees. Plus, large pine tree down over 3/4 of road just inside the trees at about 9200‘. ATVs could pass by on left, but not much else. Snow hard-packed and icy in the morning (snowshoes not needed at all), but very slushy sugar in the afternoon (still need snowshoes for afternoon). Scanner         
2008-02-17 Colfax is blocked by massive snowdrifts 3.5 miles down the road. I looks like Custer County stopped plowing past this point. If you go up in the next couple of weeks you can expect to add 2 miles to your hike to get to the T-Junction. centrifuge         
2007-07-08 As of July 4-6, 2007, the creek crossings were much lower than two weeks ago. I'd say between 6 and 9 inches lower. Interestingly enough, the lower creeks have exposed some big rocks that I couldn't see before. Made it up and down the trail without any problems, but I think it was easier the second time. Not much else has changed since I last reported. aubrey         
2007-06-26 F^^k this road lordhelmut         
2007-06-25 6/23/2007: Rocky, rough and rutted as ever. For the last 2.5 miles or so, that is. First half (up until the first creek crossing) was relatively easy. I saw a Subaru Outback parked just before the first creek crossing. First creek was easy to cross and not very high. Second creek crossing was very low. Third creek crossing came up to the bumper on my 2001 Nissan Xterra (see posted pic). As I wrote in my trip report, this a pretty serious 4x4 road for any stock SUV or truck. Water flows down many sections of the road, washing the dirt away from rocks and deepening ruts and mud pockets. I have a good 15 years of off-roading experience and this is about as rough as I'll go in a stock truck. In 1999, Gerry Roach described it as one of Colorado's roughest roads, and he said it gets worse every year. Even though improvements have been made to the lower half of the road, the upper half is still quite "interesting." And while other 4x4 roads tend to only have a few "rough" sections that challenge you, this road has non-stop roughness from the first creek crossing to the end. Driver beware. Aubrey         
2007-06-17 clear all the way to the upper trailhead. the road is muddy in spots and all the little creeks near the top of the road have overflown. jamie shanahan96         
2007-05-24 Drove to within 1 mile of upper parking lot this past weekend. Did do some driving through snowdrifts though. jcwhite         

The lower 2WD trailhead and start of the SC Lakes road. (Added by: BillMiddlebrook on 2006-06-07)The NEW trailhead (as of 2010), at the first creek crossing. (Added by: BillMiddlebrook on 2011-04-03)

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