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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    
2010-07-11 Gate is there. Somewhat of a rough drive up, but the stock ‘97 Cherokee did fine. I‘m not sure I‘d say a 2WD can make it... rear tires were slipping before I kicked it into 4WD, not sure front would have done better. Kojones         
2010-05-23 The road is clear all the way to the new gate. mtnmaneric         
2010-05-07 Good clearance vehicles can now drive nearly 1.5 miles up from the lower trailhead to a point just prior to entering the National Forest. There are a couple of pull-offs in the area. This leaves you a mile below the (new) upper trailhead. BillMiddlebrook         
2010-04-22 Good clearance vehicles can now drive about 3/4mile above the low 2WD trailhead before reaching snow. After that there‘s still plenty of snow on the road. BillMiddlebrook         
2010-04-10 Road was still snowpacked above the 121 intersection, but looks to be melting fast. I suspect somebody with 4wd (and possibly chains or straps to get out when it is soft) could make it to the lower parking area (about 1/4 mile further). There were tire tracks for about a mile up the road, but I think they had to come in and out in the morning when the road was frozen. Still postholed up to my knees in places up to the Rainbow Trail, so I suspect it will be a while before vehicles can get up very high. emcee smith         
2010-03-27 Trailhead directions (above) have been updated to reflect the new trailhead location. BillMiddlebrook         
2010-03-26 Talked to the ranger in Westcliffe today. There is now a permanent closure of South Colony road at 2.6 miles past the lower TH/parking lot (approximately one-half mile past the Rainbow Trail marker). At the closure is a new gate and parking for about 30 vehicles. They also have new designated campsites along the road and are in the process of constructing designated campsites in the basin. The ranger also told me today that eventually, there will be a permit/fee system to access the South Colony area, but that is several years away. Alan Ellis         
2010-02-18 Car transport ends at the junction with CO 121. About 1/4 mile below the 2wd parking. RoanMtnMan         
2010-01-23 No surprise the road above the 2wd parking is drifted in and then plenty of snow above the second cattle guard. Needed 4wd to get from the road below the last 1/4 mile to the parking. piper14er  4       
2009-11-16 Gate in place at 1st creek. Went up via snowmobile. We could only drive the truck to just after the cattle gate down low. killingcokes         
2009-10-03 A sign at the first stream corssing states the upper road will be closing for good on October 13th. Hurry, you have 9 days left! 8...7... TravelingMatt         
2009-08-18 I got a Kia Spectra and my friend driving behind me got a Toyota Camry approximately 1.8 miles beyond the "4WD" sign on 8-7-08. The main thing that was required was very slow and careful driving to get this far. I let several high clearance vehicles pass me en route. However, at approximately 1.8 miles in, or about 0.2 mi before the Rainbow Trail crossing, I reached an obstacle(a steep hill with rocks and loose dirt that I could not get over unless I had a running start, which I was unwilling to do because of numerous rocks below this hill). There was a nice pull-out just below this hill big enough for two vehicles and my friend and I parked here and walked the rest of the way up. It was useful for our situation to get this far in a 2WD vehicle because we reached a reliable water source within 0.5 miles at the first stream crossing. Had we parked at the 2WD trailhead, we would have had to walk a rather hot and dry 2.3 miles to get to a water source. This road really is a rocky 4WD road the entire way, and I would plan on having plenty of water when I arrive at the 2WD trailhead if I only have a 2WD car. Thunder Dan         
2009-07-24 Aug 11th to Sep 11th this year, the upper part of the road (just past the 1st creek crossing) will be closed during the week for construction. On Monday thru Friday, the road will be closed from 7:30am-5:30pm. There will be brief periods allowing vehicles through at 10am, 12:30pm, & 3:30pm. If you are traveling the road between 5:30pm and 7:30am, it will be open. denvermikey         
2009-07-21 The road up to South Colony is, in my opinion, much worst than last year. Last Sept, I drove my CRV to the trailhead, surprised at how easy it was, and I never bottomed out. On 7/21/09 I tried to make the same drive in the same vehicle, and it was disasterous. It was dark, so I pushed farther than I should have, but eventually stalled out on a steep section covered with loose gravel. I bottomed out a few times before giving up 1.6 miles from the trailhead. On the way down, I was stunned at what I made it past the night before. I had no business being there in a CRV. My recommendation is a CRV type vehicle could make it to the river crossing with come creative driving, but after that, it is truly a 4x4 road. Nasty. James Scott         
2009-07-06 I was there a month ago and regretted not taking my 2wd up to S. Colony Creek b/c the road was in such good shape. Do not have any illusions now about taking a Kia Sephia up a couple of miles unless you want to trash it. Road is open all the way but very bumpy and rocky- it will take plenty of time even in a good 4wd to get to the TH. utepasspro         
2009-06-11 Clear of snow all the way to the 4wd trailhead. Cars can drive at least 2 miles in on the 4 wheel road which was demonstrated by a compact Kia Sephia today. JB99         
2009-05-30 I was able to drive about 4.2 miles from the 2wd trailhead and was stopped by major snow drifts. 2 people got across the stream that stopped me and got about .1 miles further. This will only change gradually over the next week or two Nelson         
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         

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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