Summit to Montezuma Peak Loop. This is about a 8 to 9 mile hike with about 3,100 feet of elevation gain.
Now I went along with my friend Bryce who texted me and asked if I wanted to tag along with his dog Teddy Rose. And of course I did! Especially when it’s a chance to bag not one, but two 13’ers.
Summit Peak is the highest peak in the South San Juan Wilderness and Archuleta County. It beautifully stands at 13,307 feet. And it also happens to be 29th among Colorado’s most prominent peaks, measuring at 2,737 feet.
Prominence measures the height of a mountain relative to the lowest contour line encircling it but containing no higher summit within it.
This alone would cause a lot of folks to want to hike it. But it’s a bit of a trip to get here because of the remoteness of the 159,000 acre south San Juan wilderness.
The trail head is about 61 miles from Downtown Pagosa Springs. But takes nearly two hours to get there due to dirt roads. To get there you head up and over Wolf Creek Pass and then head southeast on Park Creek Road. After about 22 miles on this dirt road, you’ll take a right onto Forest Road 243 and head to the end of the road where the Treasure Creek Trailhead is.
The official trail heads south. But we cut off a mile or so by hiking up the steep face along Treasure Creek. In about half a mile, we climbed nearly 500 feet before crossing over the creek. From here, it was more bushwacking for us until we joined onto the regular trail about 1.4 miles in at 12,000 feet.
At 12,500 feet we joined onto the Continental Divide Trail. And from here, continued to the south facing side of Summit Peak. This is where it becomes a choose your own adventure. There’s not really a trail, but it’s a steep climb up the grassy mountain. In 0.6 miles, we climbed about 700 feet at grades sometimes at 30% or higher.
It was a workout! Teddy was waiting for us most of the time!
At the Summit of Summit, the views alone made this hike worth it. But we weren’t done yet! We looked across the north towards our next 13’er, Montezuma Peak, standing at 13,150 feet.
We hiked down along the ridge line to the southeast, taking in the incredible rock faces of Summit Peak.
It was back down to the CDT, where we followed it to the north to the base of Montezuma Peak, about 2.2 miles away. It was mostly flat along this distance where we traveled over quite a bit of snowpack on the Northside of Summit Peak.
Along the way, we passed the Unicorn, another 13’er that you could climb. But it’s just barely a 13’er at a height of, well, 13,000 feet!
After passing by the Unicorn, we departed the CDT and approached the west facing side of Montezuma Peak. From here, it was a 550 ft climb over 0.7 miles. Not as steep of a slope as Summit, but did contain a bit of scree and loose rock. It wasn’t too bad though and at the peak, we filmed our last views and then I put the camera away to start on the two mile, 22 hundred foot descent back to the trailhead down the eastern slope of Montezuma.
Overall, this trail was a challenge, but well worth it. Make sure you have GAIA GPS to help guide your way since the trail is nearly non-existent for a big portion of this hike. It took us about 8 hours to hike, with about six hours of moving time. But again, this includes going back and forth to pick up the camera many, many times.
I can’t stress this enough, make sure you’re in shape for this one. And you’re comfortable with route finding since there really isn’t much of a trail. You need some experience for this one.
If you have any questions, hit me up or comment below. We’d love to help you out.
My name is Matt Martin and thanks for watching! For more quality content on the fun trails and adventurous things to do in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, be sure to subscribe. Cheers!