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Mt. Lindsey
standard Northwest Gully
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Difficulty:
 Easy Class 3 
Risk Factors:Exposure: Considerable
Rockfall Potential: Considerable  
Route-Finding: Considerable  
Commitment: Moderate  
 
Trailhead:Huerfano/Lily Lake
Start:10,700 feet
Summit:14,042 feet
Total Gain:3,500 feet
RT Length:8.25 miles
Duration:User Climb Times
Author:BillMiddlebrook
Updated:7/2019
Weather:NOAA Forecast
Conditions:241 reports
Cell Signal:19 reports
Sheriff:Huerfano: 719-738-1600
 Costilla: 719-672-3302
Forest:San Isabel
Wilderness:Sangre De Cristo
Quad. Maps:Log In to View
Camping:On Google Maps
Eats:On Google Maps
Downloads:Log In to Download
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Trailhead


  • 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.
  • 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."
  • Continue 0.5 mile and stay left at the entrance to the Singing River ranch. The road becomes narrow, but still 2WD.
  • Continue 0.9 mile and pass the entrance to the Aspen River ranch.
  • Drive 3.2 miles to reach the the west side of large, landslide area where the road was re-routed in 2016. If you have 2WD and/or low-clearance, park here and walk the last 2 miles to the trailhead.
  • Now on a narrow and rugged road, continue 2 miles to reach the end of the road, at the Lily Lake TH. There are many dispersed camping spots along the way, including some at the parking area.

Route

WARNING: Once the snow has melted out of the gully used in this route, consider using the Northwest Ridge route instead. The ridge is steeper, more exposed and requires plenty of Class 3 scrambling but it's much more stable. However, if you are freaked out by exposure or don't think you're up to scrambling on steeper rock, stick to this route...

From the parking area, take the Lily Lake trail south through the trees and down to a large meadow - 1. Walk 1 mile to a trail junction where the Lily Lake trail turns right - 2. Your route doesn't go to Lily Lake so continue straight on the main, unmarked trail. Hike another 100 yards, cross the river ( 3) and continue through the trees as you parallel the river. Approximately 0.25 mile after the river crossing, the trail begins to climb left (southeast) through the trees and away from the river - 4. Near 10,800', a boulder field is off to the left as you hike up through the trees.

It's time to gain some ground. Starting on the right side of the boulder field, hike approx. 600 feet up through the forest to reach a gully, near 11,400'. Exit the trees and continue along the left side of the gully ( 5) and near 11,600', cross the gully and continue southwest back into the trees. Hike south up a hillside and finally reach tree line on the crest of a small ridge, near 12,000'. From this vantage point, you can finally see the summit. Your next task is to cross a high basin which is just west of Iron Nipple (13,500') - 6. Drop a bit and follow the trail southeast across easy terrain. On the east side of the basin, ascend to a flat area at 12,200' ( 7) and follow a small ridge ( 8) to a 13,000-foot crest - 9. Continue east through a boulder field and onto the 13,150-foot saddle between Iron Nipple and Mt. Lindsey - 10.

Lindsey's rugged north face is ahead and you can see the crux of the route - a steep gully just left of the northwest ridge - 11 and 12. Hike southeast along the ridge and near 13,200', the trail turns east and starts across the face. Continue to the base of the gully - 13. The route from here is semi-steep, loose and more difficult. Hike up the gully and try not to get the rocks moving. When possible, use the more stable rock along the upper edge of the gully. Near the top of the gully (~13,600'), there are some narrow areas where some easy Class 3 moves might be necessary unless it is filled with snow - 14. At the top of the gully, pass through a small notch ( 15) and traverse east across several more shallow gullies as you gradually gain elevation - 16. If you take your time, you should be able to find some cairns and trail segments. Above 13,800', the route remains steep ( 17 and 18) until you hit Lindsey's summit ridge, near 14,000' - 19. Hike southeast for nearly 0.2 to reach the summit - 20, 21 and 22.

Notes

IMPORTANT: This route enters the Sangre De Cristo Wilderness area. Wilderness areas have special regulations and restrictions for party size, dispersed camping, campfires, etc. Also, dog owners should read the wilderness information carefully because some wilderness areas prohibit dogs to be off-leash and/or limit how close dogs can be to lakes and streams. If you have questions about the wilderness area, please contact a U.S. Forest Service office for the National Forest(s) listed above.
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