Horn Peak Trail is a 9 mile out and back trail located near Westcliffe, CO and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is accessible year-round.
I attempted the hike and but was only able to get as high as the tree line. I hiked this in late September of this year.This was the first time I had attempted a hike like this. I took several rest breaks which cut into my availabe daylight hence requiring forgoing the rest of the climb. The first part of the trail is rather steep and composed of loose rock, dirt, and gravel, making it the most difficult portion of my assent to the treeline. After this part of the trail, the rest of the assent was relatively much less challenging as the trail undergoes a few switchbacks and some varying ups and downs. I am 57 yrs old and overpacked somewhat. I used about 2 gallons of water for the round trip and ate several times along the trail. About 1000 to 1200 calories were consumed. All this to say that this os not an easy decent but not impossible for a person in decent shape. I would not tey it if I had no hiking experience. I saw no significant wildlife but did see several deposits of bear scat on the trail itself. Take precautions.
This is a challenging hike with a significant elevation gain. The trail is very well maintained and is relatively easy until you reach tree line. The only reason I gave the hike a 4 is because I don't care for trails that were likely old roads or ATV trails. There are 2 long sections like that. They are comprised of small rocks and medium sized rocks, none of which are stable. This wasn't a problem going up but made for a rough descent with danger of slipping. The next part of the trail goes through a forested area and is really beautiful. Above tree line, the hike is especially difficult. Tree line is at about 11,700 feet. From there, it feels like it is straight up. Once you come over that peak, the ridge is a series of scrambles which are easy compared to the ascent from tree line. The views from this peak are spectacular and worth the effort. I would NOT recommend this hike to an amateur hiker. Given the elevation gain and length of the hike, I think this hike was harder than the Class 1 & 2 fourteeners that I have done. It may be worth noting that this hike took me significantly longer to complete than most similar hikes I have done. Keep this in mind when packing food and water.