“This trail offers pure world class running and scrambling to the top of 14er Wetterhorn Peak.”
— Tyler Prince
Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife
Matterhorn Creek Trailhead is difficult enough to get to in the summer months. During winter and parts of spring the way is generally closed somewhere along the Henson road, about 10 miles below the trailhead.
While the land manager requests dogs be leashed, they probably don't intend for Fido to be scrambling about the rocks near the summit. Few dogs can cover this quasi-technical terrain.
The trail is excellent and fairly gradual all the way from the trailhead to around 13,400 ft, after which scrambling is required. This route makes for an excellent run followed by a quick scramble to the summit...an awesome way to break up alpine running monotony.
From Matterhorn Creek trailhead, run up Ridge Stock Driveway before coming to a junction at 12,000 ft. Turn left for Wetterhorn Peak
Trail (turning right will take you to Uncompahgre Peak
Run up through the basin, crossing through some rocks while heading left toward the summit ridge. Once through a brief rocky patch, switchback SW on excellent trail before reaching the ridge around 13,000 ft.
Follow the trail, more or less ridge proper, before you reach some yellow dirt on the trail. This brief change in soil marks the end of the easier terrain. The path drops left of the ridge and then becomes unclear. You should be able to see "the Prow," a sharp and jagged rock formation appearing like a fin below the summit. Your goal is to scramble up just to its right. Once at the Prow, you'll come to a V-notch in the rock. Scramble either left or right, then turn left and run toward a flat dirt area surrounded by rock formations at 13,800 ft. The summit is up and to the right.
Continue north through a notch in the rock before reaching a set of large stone steps to your right. This natural formation makes for a fun scramble right below the top. Some more adventurous runners may opt to simply scramble around here until they top out. There's plenty of fun climbing and lots of exposure to be had. Stay within your comfort zone! Top out and enjoy the views from Wetterhorn's flat and large summit. This is a great spot for a 14er finishing party.
From the summit, head back down to the Matterhorn Creek trailhead, or head back to the junction with Ridge Stock Driveway to run Uncompahgre Peak
Flora & Fauna
Just like with other peaks in the area, expect mountain goats, marmots, and pika. The valleys between Wetterhorn and Uncompahgre
offer some of the most stunning views of mountains and wildflowers in the state.