Cottonwood Peak A  
Condition Updates  
 
Route: West ridge via Hot Springs Canyon
Posted On: 2020-08-24, By: Kcmartinez22
Info: Wow! What an incredible route and peak. 2wd road all the way to the Hot Springs TH (NOT AT THE HOT SPRINGS. turn right just before.) trail Is faint and over grown to treeline. Once above treeline curve to the ridge to your south/right. There is no real trail just out of the trees. Follow the mostly conglomerate ridge (sections of talus to contend with) to the summit (2 falsies). We descended via Garner Creek Canyon to tag UN 13,123'. THe ridge over from cottonwood up and the ridge down are mostly talus hopping and not as solid as the cottonwood ridge. It is fairly time consuming but the views are absolutely worth it. The trail from the saddle between the UN and Thirsty is pretty steep and loose until you reach the Tundra below and ridge you hike out. The trail on the garner creek side is well marked with cairns and seemingly more traveled. It's also lush with a few creek crossings and a large beaver area in the final 2 miles. It loops back around to the same parking area. Be prepared for this route to be much longer than the documented 11.3 miles. My garmin clocked it at about 14.5 miles. I would definitely recommend doing this hike clockwise as we did. The garner side is far more steep. Exciting to find such a beauty route from the west side. 
4
 
Route: West Ridge
Posted On: 2020-08-22, By: angry
Info: Ascended via Hot Springs Canyon trail - some deadfall, but easy to navigate. Trail fizzles out a bit before you gain the ridge but is very intuitive. The gain felt very gradual. There are a couple false summits. Went up UN 13,123 and then descended the Garner Creek trail to make it a loop. No summit register. 
4
 
Route: Garner Creek
Posted On: 2020-05-24, By: tjf242424
Info: I went up Major Creek and tagged Electric, then traversed over Lakes, Thirsty, and 13,123 to Cottonwood, then backtracked to descend by Garner Creek. Portions of the upper Garner Creek trail are somewhat ill-defined with some small patches of snow remaining, but nothing of any consequence. The remainder of the route was snow free. Major Creek is in great shape, as noted previously. Garner Creek has some water/mud that is easily avoided. 
 
Route: Hot Springs TH
Posted On: 2020-05-16, By: TheHikingTexan
Info: Just to update the recent trip report on Cottonwood. Trail was fairly easy to follow until it ended around 11,400' at the gulley split where you turn right. Only snow left is on the ridge after the first false summit, easy to boot. I was the only car at the trailhead Friday evening, didn't see anyone until the final mile on the way out. 
 
Route: From Point 13,123, Hot Springs Trail Descent
Posted On: 2020-05-09, By: supranihilest
Info: There's a lot of elevation gain up Cottonwood, more than it looks when tired. It's not that steep or that loose, and there's no/little snow. Descending the west ridge to the Hot Springs Trail is the only significant snow on any of these five peaks. It's actually in pretty good shape, almost no postholing. There's plenty of steep talus to contend with though, and the descent from the saddle into the Hot Springs Valley is steep and uneven. There's an OK trail for the first bit but it doesn't matter, it's not like you can go anywhere else. The trail is a complete mess though, tons of deadfall everywhere, rotting sidehilling, wet, soggy ground, tons of creek crossings. Just follow the valley, it's pretty obvious. Eventually the trail diverges from the creek. Once back in the open desert follow the dirt and rock trail to the trailhead. 
6
 
Route: Hot Springs Canyon & West ridge
Posted On: 2019-11-10, By: majtytom
Info: TH and trail were dry in summer conditions up to 10200 ft. There was maybe ankle deep snow up to 11200 ft (in shaded areas), but hunters made a good job to brake the trail. Then dry slope up to the ridge crest. West ridge had some snow, but did not cause any problems: mostly avoidable or ankle deep. 
5
 
Route: Via Wulsten Baldy
Posted On: 2019-04-15, By: CaptainSuburbia
Info: Parked on 198 at the Rainbow trail .4 miles above Lutheran Camp. This road is total crap, but if you have a serious 4x4 you can get another .8 miles before a fallen tree will stop you. The road was easily walked in boots although very slushy in afternoon. At about 2.8 miles I left road and started climbing up 12er Wulsten Baldy. It's a moderate steep bushwack through a burn area to treeline. The snow was deep, but consolidated enough I never postholed with my spikes. Treeline to summit was a steep snowclimb with occasional rock bands. I kept spikes on but crampons would have worked better. With the low elevation start Wulsten is 4100 vertical feet gained. I started down the ridge to Cottonwood, but turned because of extreme wind. I couldn't even stand up it was so strong. Hope this helps someone. This is a good winter route to Cottonwood, Thirsty and Lake with a loop back over Eagle. 
8
 
Route: Hot Springs Canyon Trail
Posted On: 2018-05-21, By: drop_bear
Info: No snow. Dry conditions except one short section on the Garner Creek Trail that is currently a stream. 1) Looking SW from Cottonwood's West ridge 2) Looking south from Cottonwood's summit 3) Looking west towards Cottonwood's summit 
3
 
Route: West Ridge via Hot Springs Trail
Posted On: 2018-04-15, By: Tornadoman
Info: A few patches of hard snow in the more shaded parts of the canyon (between 10,200 and 10,800 feet), short sections and non issue. After that you could avoid snow all the way to the false summit at over 13,000 feet. There are sections of snow on the ridge after the false summit (probably 100 yards of it is unavoidable with a bit of postholing). The rest of the snow was avoidable if you rockhopped. Overall extremely dry and nearing summer conditions. No traction, snowshoes, etc. My only regret is wearing my heavier winter boots instead of summer hiking shoes! 
7
 
Route: West slopes + PT 13.123 & Thirsty Peak
Posted On: 2017-11-02, By: desertdog
Info: We did Cottonwood, PT 13,123, and Thirsty Peak. A couple inches of snow on the Hot Springs Trail. Intermittent snow and ice on the ridge traverse making for a long day. The Garner Trail is a little hard to follow after the saddle, but we picked it up in the basin. After that the Garner Trail has very little snow and is an easy hike back to the TH. 
 
Route: standard-ESE via Thirsty
Posted On: 2016-10-30, By: tdawg012
Info: CR 198 was rough. High clearance and 4wd a must. The Hayden Pass fire affected a few stretches higher up between Balman Reservoir and Rainbow lake. Watch out for future downed burnt trees and more rocks. There were some microwave sized angular rocks on the road on the way down that weren't there the night before. Hike was fine, just some frosty rocks to deal with in the morning. 
 
Route: Hot Springs Canyon Trail
Posted On: 2016-08-16, By: JasonKline
Info: Summer conditions. The water is fairly high, so expect to get wet feet. The grass is pretty high on the trail at times. 
 
Route: West Ridge from Hot Springs TH
Posted On: 2015-04-13, By: doggler
Info: Late spring conditions as long as you're on west and south aspects. Ice axe only was used as snow was solid and low angle enough to not need any additional traction. Had it been a much warmer day, postholing could have been problematic on the descent. I chose this route based on the belief that there would be little in the way of snow coverage, and it did not disappoint. Some of the drainages further south (Major Creek, Cotton Creek, etc) probably are holding over 1k of ready-made cement and will for the foreseeable future. It seems not so much that things are melting off as much as there just wasn't much to melt in the first place. I drove by a sign in Salida that said the Arkansas was flowing something like 560cfs. 
4
 
Route: via 13123B down ridge to Silver Lake
Posted On: 2013-06-16, By: IHikeLikeAGirl
Info: Eagle/Lakes/"Thirsty"/13123B/Cottonwood ridge loop - 99% snow free. Any snow encountered can be easily avoided. 
 
Route: Hot Springs Canyon Trail
Posted On: 2013-02-04, By: Wyoming Bob
Info: First the stats, 2wd dry road to the TH, then 6" or so up to the canyon mouth, good swale and now a set of tracks. Then 6" goes to 1" by the time you get up to the Wilderness Boundary, four pass trench from here to the saddle. Then in the darker tighter parts, the depth goes from 18 to 24 inches, powder and no crust. It stays deep and loose all the way to the treeline and that means just about the saddle. Then rocks, ice and some wind hammered patches, good enough for heels on the way down but not quite enough on the way up. This trail is merciless as to vertical gain but it never comes out and tells you that you are getting worked. It just climbs with every foot, no step ups, no steep sections, just a gentle lead upward that ends up exhausting the quads and suddenly leaving you at 13k and looking back down a rather steep course. The rest of the story is we bashed our way up through the snow for 7 hours to just get to the 13,047 point to see the summit, another mile along the ridge, at 3 p.m. A peak that we realized was too far and we were just beat to heck by the 5 miles up through the snow. 3 p.m., quads gone, scud on upper San Juans, getting cold and then the wind started and the temp started to drop. We read the cards and it was clear that the gig was up. Enough was enough and we were outbound to arrive at the TH at 6 p.m. No sour grapes as to the 8 a.m. start, we got two summits in January and this proved to be the beating that comes with winter climbing. *** Cough *** P. >> I scoped out you and W.W.‘s 13'er liss which are as shy of Cottonwood as mine is shy of White. If you and W.W. have playing hookie in mind, there is a good trench the whole way to the saddle. As for White . . . and Mamma, I was literally thinking "I wonder if anyone has taken a snow machine or stomped a trench up that road?" as I drove south on Saturday evening to Salida. 
1

Return to the main Peak Conditions page



© 2020 14ers.com®, 14ers Inc.