Peak(s):  Huron Peak  -  14,003 feet
Date Posted:  08/13/2018
Date Climbed:   08/12/2018
Author:  jnorris303
 Huron Peak - Northwest Slopes - My favorite Sawatch 14er   

This was my second time summiting Huron and solidified my opinion that it's my favorite of the Sawatch fourteeners. This time, I went with a friend who had never hiked a fourteener before, and it was the perfect introduction. Huron offers a lot in a relatively short hike.

We left Denver around 6AM (later than I would've liked) and arrived at the upper 4WD trailhead around 8. The road to this trailhead is definitely an AWD/4WD road with clearance required. I've been up some roads that require only clearance and not AWD/4WD (like the road to the Grey's/Torrey's trailhead), but this one requires both, in my opinion. Other than one spot of particular difficulty, the majority of the road is slowly doable in any car with AWD and decent clearance. The difficult spot is about 1/3 of a mile up the road - a steep dip into a muddy/wet washout, followed by three huge potholes that need to be navigated carefully. Pick your line and you will be fine - mess it up, and you'll be stuck. This spot will stop a 2WD vehicle. My Forester (with 8.7" of clearance) had no issues, but my passenger whispered "oh s**t" under his breath as we approached this section. The good news is that the road gets significantly easier the closer you get to the trailhead. There were many cars up there - Jeeps, 4Runners, a lot of trucks, a lot of Subarus, and a few CRVs/RAV4s. I also saw a Ford Edge with the big chrome wheels and pretty skinny tires - wouldn't have taken that up there, but props to whoever did.

The beauty of this hike is that it is a short hike that packs in a lot - you get trees, a dramatic exit at treeline to incredible views of the Three Apostles, a beautiful, flat basin to rest your legs about halfway through the hike (and to prepare yourself for the summit push), and a short, steep, rocky section near the top to make things interesting. My partner was apprehensive about his capabilities on this hike, having never done a fourteener before, but Huron is welcoming.

We set off at a brisk pace, quickly shedding layers as the sun heated things up. Summer in Denver means 38 degree temps at altitude at a trailhead like this - keep that in mind when hiking early at this time of year. The trail ascends steeply into the woods, but multiple switchbacks keep things easy. You break treeline to a breathtaking view of the Three Apostles - as if the trail was designed to give you this view - and we stopped here for several pictures.

Pictures never do views like this justice.

After that, the steepness eases and you end up in a wide, flat basin below Huron's slopes. The summit looks a far distance from here. We stopped at this flat part to eat and take a look at the challenge ahead.

Huron - the flat basin is up and to the left as the trail swings east.

From the basin, the trail climbs steeply once again to the saddle between Huron and the peak to the north of Huron. There are a ton of built-in "steps" here, and it is a leg workout. You gain a lot of elevation here and all of a sudden the summit looks a lot closer. We ran into a girl from Iowa here who was hiking alone - her dad had stopped before treeline and she told him she wanted to go on alone (Claire - if you're reading this, thanks for the company!). I always find it interesting to hear stories from visitors about why they like Colorado so much. From Iowa, to 14,000ft - no easy task!

The trail is pretty straightforward from here on up to the summit, and it is mercifully short. I think it took maybe an hour total from shoulder to summit. There is a steep, loose section about 15 minutes from the summit that requires careful hiking and the occasional hand hold for stability, mainly due to the loose dirt. There are multiple "trails" in this area, as well as a few people on their butts during the downhill part here. Trekking poles would've helped a lot during this. We were on the summit by 11 (ish) and took many pictures. We shared the summit with maybe 20 people and there were maybe 20 more heading down as we were ascending - considering the last time that I was alone on Huron, it seemed crowded to me. The views, though - THE VIEWS. Huron has by far the best views out of any Sawatch 14er, in every direction, and this is the reason it's my favorite in the range. It's a little, beautiful, hidden Sawatch gem of a mountain, and you can count at least 20 fourteeners from the top - Sherman, Shavano, Tabeguache, Antero, Princeton, Yale, Columbia, Harvard, Missouri, Belford, La Plata, Elbert, Massive, and, if you squint, Castle, Conundrum, Snowmass, Capitol, the Bells, and Pyramid, as well as many 13ers. The views rival what I've seen in the San Juans.

La Plata Peak from about halfway up Huron's Northwest slope

Obligatory summit photo, with sign. The weather was beautiful.

We hung out on the summit for about half an hour before clouds started to build and we quickly descended. We were back at the car by 2 and I heard distant rumbles of thunder. Off summits by noon, people! Huron's 6.5 miles round trip is quick and beautiful, and it's a great introductory peak for someone who's never hiked one before. No fourteener is "easy" - we were out of breath and my legs are tired today - but compared to Holy Cross' standard route, which I had done three weeks prior, this hike goes by in a flash.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions

Nice report
08/26/2018 15:15
Thanks for your post. Had to turn back the other morning due to an unexpected turn in the weather, but now I'm once again inspired to return! Alec

08/30/2018 13:06
Thank you for this report, lots of useful info. I'm planning to do this one on the 14th.


09/19/2018 15:43
Very helpful report. Definitely putting this on the list for next summer.


Ready for summer
01/13/2019 18:07
Ready for winter to be over. This will be fun.


01/22/2019 18:47
Thanks for the info, I plan to do this in the summer!

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