Mt. Lindsey
standard Northwest Gully
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? (TEMPORARY CLOSURE) NOTICE: Starting September, 2021 all routes above 13,000 feet on Mt. Lindsey have been closed by the landowner. The Colorado Fourteeners Initiative (CFI) is working with landowner to reopen the routes.
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
USGS Quad.:Blanca Peak
County Sheriff:Huerfano: 719-738-1600
 Costilla: 719-672-3302
National Forest:San Isabel
Wilderness Area:Sangre De Cristo
Author:BillMiddlebrook
Last Updated:6/2021

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 - 22" and "Lily Lake Trhd - 23". But really it's about 22.2 miles total to reach the Lily Lake TH.
  • At 7.0 miles, the road turns to dirt.
  • At 11.8 miles, stay left on Forest Road 580.
  • At 15.7 miles, stay left at the entrance to the Singing River ranch. The road becomes narrow, but usually still 2WD.
  • At 16.7 miles, pass the entrance to the Aspen River ranch.
  • WARNING: In 2021, there's a rough section near 17.7 miles in that may require 4WD/AWD and good clearance. If you don't have 4WD, drive with someone who does because there's no 2WD parking in this area.
  • At approx. 20 miles, reach the the west side of large, landslide area where the road was re-routed in 2016. After this point, there's a steep section that requires 4WD.
  • Continue 2 miles on the rough, narrow road to reach the Lily Lake TH. There are many dispersed camping spots along the way.

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. Continue straight on the main, unmarked trail. Hike another 100 yards, cross the Huerfano River (#3) and continue south. Over 0.1 mile after the river crossing, the trail begins to climb left, away from the river. Zigzag through the forest to reach a boulder field , near 10,800' - #4.

It's time to gain some ground. Starting on the right side of the boulder field, climb approx. 600 feet through the forest to reach a gully/stream, near 11,400'. Continue along the left side of the gully and cross it near 11,600' - #5. Hike south up a hillside to reach tree line, near 12,000', overlooking a high basin - #6. Drop slightly and walk toward the east side of a basin. Ascend to 12,200' (#7) before following a small ridge (#8) to reach a 13,000-foot crest - #9. Maneuver through a boulder field and onto the 13,150-foot saddle between 13er 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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