South Colony Lake Approach
ElevationAscent: 1,803' 550 m
Descent: -15' -4 m
High: 11,672' 3,558 m
Low: 9,878' 3,011 m
GradeAvg Grade: 8% (5°)
Max Grade: 23% (13°)
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“An easy run into one of the most stunning alpine basins of Colorado.”— Tyler Prince
From the well-signed 4WD trailhead (9,900 ft) cross a slick wooden footbridge. Continue 2.5 miles with minimal elevation gain up an old 4WD road, now closed for years, before reaching a trail junction. Although both trails will take you to South Colony Lake, stay left to remain on the more straightforward path.
Cross a river on another slick log bridge and immediately come to a gravel clearing, at the end of which is a rusted metal gate (11,300 ft). The upper TH used to be here. Continue past the gate and into a clearing at 11,400 ft, where the road narrows and turns into a singletrack trail. Continue on a clearly marked class 1 trail with few rocks or roots and minimal elevation gain, passing through trees and bushes before coming to a network of streams below South Colony Lake (11,600 ft).
Continue up the trail, eventually coming to a set of campsites to the right and a sign marked "Crestone Needle: Standard Route" to the left. Heading right will take you to camp and toward the Humboldt Peak Trail; heading left will take you up more difficult terrain to Broken Hand Pass, which serves as the jumping-off point for Crestone Peak and Crestone Needle.
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Land Manager: USFS - Rio Grande National Forest Office