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Did this hike back mid September last year. straightforward until 1/4 above treeline. got icy and a bit snowy. had to don microspikes. quads were buurrnniinnngg. vast wind gusts at the top, some shelter but not much. simply amazing views! 3L water was enough. trail was well marked.

1 month ago

I've lived in the SLV most of my life, and Blanca's summit had been calling for a while. I finally decided to get in shape to do it, starting by regularly hiking Limekiln Hill, west of Monte Vista, sometimes doing time trials, sometimes adding 50lbs of weight, and then proceeding to hiking ever larger hills and mountains: Pup, Dog, Horseshoe, Windy, Bennett, Handies, West Spanish Peak, Twin Peaks, etc. Then, on a nice day, I finally went for it, thinking I'd just see how far I could get before weather or fatigue made continuing seem unwise. I was hurrying, trying to beat the usual afternoon thunderstorms. I started at 8700 feet at 7am. To my surprise, I made it to the summit at 11:20am without any real difficulty! It was easier than I expected!

The area around Como and the upper basin below Blanca and Ellingwood are gorgeous! And the views from the summit are hard to beat.

I had been concerned about how I'd do with the exposure on the ridge, looking down Blanca's north face, but I found that I was fine with it. But most of it, aside from a spot or two near the summit, is entirely avoidable if it makes you uncomfortable.

The scrambling near the top is easy if you have even a little scrambling/climbing experience.

I found trekking poles very helpful, as always, especially for the descent. Bring some tape to treat hot spots before they turn into blisters. The long descent can be grueling. Make sure your shoes or boots fit properly and leave a little space in front of your toes.

I don't recommend this hike, especially in one day, unless you are very fit and understand the weather risks. Afternoon thunderstorms are the norm in summer and can be very dangerous up above treeline.

Lots of mountain goats

As others have stated, the most challenging part of the trail is above the tree line. Challenging but well worth the views at the top!

They elevation made this hike more difficult, but the view from the top is definitely worth it. I started hiking around 7:50 in the morning and arrived at the summit at about 11:55. I spent about 2 and a half hours at the summit and left to head down at 2:30. I arrived at the trail head at 5:30. It was challenging but i would definitely recommend doing this hike.

great views the whole way up
well worth the effort

Hiked 9/21/17.

Definitely doable in a day, but I skipped Bross. It is on private property and they patrol it pretty frequently. I didn't feel like I missed out in any way by not doing it, though. Went up to Democrat, then to Cameron and Lincoln. The summit of Lincoln was my favorite - beautiful 360 degree view. Most of the trail isn't very exposed, but that meant we were caught a little off-guard when the winds got strong up high. Get an early start, 8:00am at the latest. We started late and were rushing to get down before nightfall. This wasn't too difficult of a hike for my first 14ers, just expect it to take awhile. And be sure to acclimate to the altitude as much as possible in advance, and it will go much more smoothly! :)

This is a decent trail. There is one rough section just below the first false summit but it’s doable in good weather.

3 months ago

Started at 7 and I expected it to be an easy hike. But the road you hike on is fist sized round rocks that make walking terrible. The wind on top was 15 mph and it was manageable but the 7 degrees plus wind chill made it extremely cold. I would totally do it again though. Ended up taking 11 hours and ended up two miles from my car in the dark. PS: if you want at about 13000 ft on the left their is an old mine shaft 300 yards from the trail and it’s only 20 feet deep but it’s a nice relief from the wind and snow drifts.

11/26, failed summit attempt... 1) 5 miles before getting to the trail head was cover by snow, challenging and kind of dangerous (have to speed up to go over hills but couldnt see incoming traffic). 2) started at 730am, but heavy snow on the trail before the tree line, have to switch between snowshoes and crampons several times. 3) struggled too much just to get to the tree line (1130) plus altitude sickness, finally gave up at the first false summit (1230). Thanks for people who posted here. I have gotten good information by reading the reviews.

3 months ago

Very fun and moderately hard hike. Had a blast doing it as my first 14er!

4 months ago

While moving towards the trailhead you enter a aspen tree tunnel, and as it clears you are greeted by grand views of forest, creeks, and Capitol peak in the distance. The trail as some points I found a bit confusing to follow, due to cattle grazing trails in the area, but it is not hard to stay oriented in the direction you need to go. Beautiful open fields filled with flowers, delicious snow melt creeks, and towering rocks made this an unforgettable hike for me. I just went for the day, but it seems like a great place to stay overnight. Also the road to the trail was under-repair, so it may be nicely paved by now. Cheers

Easy as far as fourteeners go. No exposure to speak of.

It was an hard hike but it was one of the greatest experience I had, above tree line views are mind blowing.

4 months ago

Hiked this on Oct. 5, 2017 with Jay. We slept in his car at the trail head and started at 3 am. It happened to be a full moon that night so we were super luckily with the light from the moon. Through the beginning wooded area it was ice and it seriously required out micro spikes (we passed most people without them and I don’t know how they did it!!), then once we lost the tree line we hiked through about 4-9 inches of snow the whole way. It was incredibly difficult but the sunrise was spectacular. I did not summit as I am a bit terrified of heights and thought the final stretch vertically to the (*false*) summit looked too dangerous for me, Jay really wanted to get to the top so he made it and there were a few other people already there. The way down was sooo much easier as you just kind of tumble through the snow. Jay got a bit of altitude sickness on the way down but felt much better once we hit the tree line. The weather was gorgeous, barely a cloud in the sky. HIGHLY recommend micro spikes and I personally would never do that hike again unless it was in the peak of summer!
Start: 3 am
Summit: ~830 am
Back to car: 1 pm

5 months ago

Hiked this trail in late October. Had wanted to get to CO to hike a 14'er a month or two ago, but work got in the way. Picked this 14er due to the fact that it has a South approach, and most North approach 14ers have much more snow now. From San Antonio so the elevation was a challenge. Read somewhere about pressure breathing, and it did seem to help. Started at 7:30am, summitted at about 12:30. 5 hours up, 3.5 down. Trail is more like 4.9 miles one way though. Tough trail (for me), but the views are spectacular. Once I got to the saddle, the last ~100-150ft are just sheer boulders. I considered stopping at the saddle because the trail to the top is barely visible. Probably made up my own trail the rest of the way, but decided "I came all this way, why quit now". Totally worth it. Barely any wind. It was probably in the high 30's at the top, but was still stripping off layers due to the strenuous work. Definitely recommend.

5 months ago


Challenging hike to the summit, but manageable at this time of year. Shouldn’t be much trouble during the summer. We hiked with our overnight packs to the end of the timberline and set up camp. Then, we finished the hike with a light pack to the top and returned to our camp before sundown. Amazing views. Lots of wildlife. We will definitely be back.

5 months ago

It was challenging! But the weather was not too bad, and the view at last make it all worth it ! :) going again in November on Veterans Day weekend, hopefully the trail is open !

5 months ago

Horn Fork Basin is my favorite place in the state to be.
So much can be done in a 2-3 day stretch.
Harvard is a must as well as Bear Lake nearby.
love love love.

Hiked this trail on October 2nd. There was a good deal of snow above the tree line. Many drifts were knee high. Would recommend spikes. Very windy as well, still worth the view from the top

5 months ago

Summitted 7/29/17 and it quite literally rained the entire ascent! Quite a rocky, boulder-y trail which makes it seem longer than it is. Can't speak to the views as we were in a cloud at the top but I'm sure they are beautiful on a clear day. Next time I'll wait it out for better weather :)

I did only Democrat, (Cameron), and Lincoln. Skipped Bross and came down the same way I ascended to avoid the talus slope of Bross. About 4-6" snow up high, some sun early, clouds and wind later. I recommend microspikes, but it certainly can be done without. Overall a good, albeit a bit slow, day in the mountains!

Beautiful trail. We had planned on camping at Bear Lake but that high above tree line left a great deal of exposure and no wood for fire, or winbreaks. We camped slightly south of the lake, plenty of good spots.

We only did Democrat as we were moving slowly. Got slightly side-tracked on the talus slope after the trail sign but it turned out OK. Some snow along the ridge up to the false summit made for careful stepping going up and a little slipping going down. Fantastic weather and great views.

Nice views, fun hike. Snow and ice building up. Wore spikes descending from Democrat as large sections had turned in to slippery chutes. Fattest marmots I've ever seen all over the talus field. Skipped Bross, didn't know the 'no legal access' warning wasn't to be taken seriously...

Short vid: https://youtu.be/1xH4jbSwpI0

I'm not used to the altitude so this hike was hard for me, there was also snow on the trail on the last 1000 feet so it was slippery on many parts. The view at the top was worth it.

5 months ago

Awesome experience!

Loved the opportunity to spend so much time above 13,000 ft. Great views, but prepare for cold & wind this time of year. Scary talus on the way down, if you do the clockwise route, especially for people without poles (IMO). Some impressive exposure west of Cameron, and east & west of Lincoln. Talus fields on way down from Bross are amazing. I think if I did this again I'd go counterclockwise and avoid going down talus & scree at end of route. Take lots of photos, lots to remember!

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