• Josh Kurz

Hike Pagosa Peak!

Thinking about hiking to the top of Pagosa Peak this summer, but wondering about the conditions? On Saturday, I made my annual pilgrimage to the summit to challenge my fitness and see our magnificent setting from the peak's perspective. Nearly all of the snow has melted and the wildflowers are blooming.

View into the Fourmile Drainage towards Downtown Pagosa Springs

Case's Fitweed near the start of the trail

Black Mountain Road has always been rough on vehicles, but fortunately it didn't deteriorate noticeably after our big spring runoff. As for the "trail", every year, a few more spruce beetle-killed trees fall across the trail making the journey a little more sinuous and slow-going. This past winter, there was a large avalanche that started near the summit that had enough energy to travel across Pagosa Creek and up the hillside where it made a banked turn across the trail before it plunged back down into the drainage. As a result, the avalanche left about a dozen small, splintered green trees on the trail (it could have been much worse). There was another smaller avalanche a little further up the trail that ran from the south and it also left about a dozen new trees on the trail.

Young trees bent down by a large avalanche that started near the summit

I estimate that there are about 100 downed trees in the 1st mile and fortunately the remaining 0.8 miles is mostly above treeline. Since the trail isn't an official Forest Service trail, it will never be cleared by trail crews. As a general rule, if thunderstorms are predicted on Wolf Creek Pass, I try to be off the summit by at least noon, which means a red-eye start time. For a map, driving directions, and a detailed description of the route, go to: https://www.southsanjuans.info/pagosa-peak.

View towards Williams Lake and Toner Mountain


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