(Spring/Summer/Fall) A while back there was a large landslide on the road to the Huerfano/Lily Lake trailhead, so the road is closed and has a parking lot 7 miles below the actual trailhead. Until a new road is built around the landslide, the additional 14 miles round-trip is unavoidable.
- Drive to the town of Gardner, northwest of Walsenburg on Colorado 69.
- From Gardner, head west for about 1/2 mile on CO 69 and turn west on the road to Mosca Pass. There should be brown Forest Service signs on CO 69 indicating the turn.
- Just after the start of this road, a Forest Service sign states "Upper Huerfano - 21.5" and "Lily Lake Trhd - 22.5".
- After 7.0 miles the road turns to dirt.
- Continue 4.8 miles to a junction and stay left on Forest Road 580.
- Drive 3.4 miles and enter private property where a "Forest Access" sign reads "Upper Huerfano - 5.3 mi."
- 2016 NOTE: DUE TO A LANDSLIDE HIGHER ON THE ROAD, VEHICLES MUST PARK IN THIS AREA, NEAR A "LOCAL TRAFFIC ONLY" SIGN. A PLAN IS IN THE WORKS TO RE-OPEN THE ROAD BUT HAS YET TO BE IMPLEMENTED. THIS ADDS 7 MILES OF WALKING (EACH WAY) TO REACH THE ACTUAL TRAILHEAD. TAKE A BIKE!
- Continue 0.5 mile and stay left at the entrance to the Singing River ranch. The road becomes rough, narrow, but still 2WD.
- Continue 0.9 mile and pass the entrance to the Aspen River ranch. The road becomes more difficult.
- Drive 3.4 miles to enter the San Isabel National Forest.
- Drive 0.8 mile and pass a small sign for the Huerfano and Zapata trails.
- Drive 1 more mile to the end of the road at the Lily Lake TH.
First, follow Mt. Lindsey Route #1 to the 13,150-foot saddle between Iron Nipple and Mt. Lindsey. From the saddle, the northwest ridge is in full view and may look intimidating to some. More than 1/2 way up the ridge a crux wall makes this route more difficult than the standard, north face route - Photo #1 and Photo #2. Finding a Class 3 line around the crux is possible but many climbers simply take a direct, Class 4 line up the brief pitch.
Hike southeast along the ridge on a small trail and near 13,200', where the trail turns east toward the north face, stay right and continue up the northwest ridge - Photo #3. As you climb higher, the terrain becomes more rugged and requires some Class 3 scrambling, especially on the ridge crest - Photo #4. As you scramble toward the crux wall (Photo #5), it's clear that the route is becoming more serious. Scramble across a steep area below the ridge crest, down to a notch and up to the base of the crux wall. Photo #6 and Photo #7 were taken in this area and show some of the rugged terrain features.
Photo #8 is a head-on view of the crux wall, showing several options. One way to keep the difficulty at (exposed) Class 3 is to bypass the wall on the left side. If you choose this option, regain the ridge right after the crux wall to avoid loose terrain. If you're comfortable with brief Class 4 climbing, the best option may be just left of the large, vertical crack in the center of the wall - Photo #9. Carefully pick your line and regain the ridge on easier terrain - Photo #10.
Above the crux, continue up the ridge - Photo #11 and Photo #12. As you ascend, the standard route is directly below, so be careful not to tumble rocks off the ridge - Photo #13. Continue to the 14,000-foot false summit on the northwest end of the summit ridge - Photo #14. Hike southeast for nearly 0.2 to reach the summit - Photo #15. Taken from back at the 13,150-foot saddle, Photo #16 is another look at the ridge.
The route is much more stable than the standard, gully route.