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Challenger Point Trail

Intermediate/Difficult

Trail

1.8 mile 2.9 kilometer point to point
59% Runnable
Intermediate/Difficult

Elevation

Ascent: 2,468' 752 m
Descent: -32' -10 m
High: 14,043' 4,280 m
Low: 11,593' 3,533 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 26% (15°)
Max Grade: 108% (47°)

Dogs

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Map Key

Trail shared by Tyler Prince

A moderate run along Willow Lake and up a 14er.

Tyler Prince

Features Lake · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife

The trailhead at the bottom of Willow Lake Trail is fairly easy to access year-round. Dogs may struggle of this trail but should do okay.

Runner Notes

Due to steep grades and rocky trail, this doesn't make for a great run.

Description

From the top of Willow Lake Trail above the cliffs, seek out a trail traveling East/Northeast. This is above treeline and wide open, so it shouldn't be too hard to find. That said, the trail's vague and covered with rocks. It will send you briefly through some willows before angling steeply to this right. Challenger Point is defined by the large ridge up and to the right, with Kit Carson Peak beyond it and to left, its knobby summit rising up from its North Ridge (Kit Carson North Ridge).

Near 11,900 ft you'll locate the trail on the grassy slopes and continue up the steep path. In about 500 ft of climbing you'll pass by a rock rib on your right. Near 13,200 ft you'll reach the top of the rib and leave the grassy slopes. Continue up and slightly toward the left on some class 2+ rocks. While the base is solid, there are plenty of loose, football-sized rocks to slip on. Stay to the right of the gully just to your left, or else you'll get cliffed out and be on much looser terrain.

Reach ridge proper around 13,900 ft. From here, it's just a 0.1 mile hop, skip, and jump along some talus over to the summit. You may want to drop a little to the left of ridge proper to avoid some looser areas, but never more than 20-30 ft or so.

From the summit, Kit Carson Trail provides access to Challenger's parent 14er.

If descending this trail as part of Kit Carson and Challenger, the only landmark you need to be concerned with is the gully. Stay to its left on the way down and you'll be fine.

Flora & Fauna

Up this high there's not much other than alpine grass and marmots.

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Trail Ratings

  3.7 from 3 votes

#7

in Crestone

#17015

Overall
  3.7 from 3 votes
5 Star
33%
4 Star
0%
3 Star
67%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Trail Rankings

#7

in Crestone

#1,432

in Colorado

#17,015

Overall
8 Views Last Month
1,178 Since May 1, 2015
Intermediate/Difficult

0%
0%
0%
67%
33%
0%

Photos

Willow Lake moonrise.
Sep 5, 2017 near Crestone, CO
Sunrise traverse of the ridge below the summit of Challenger Point.
Sep 5, 2017 near Crestone, CO
With loose scree along the North Slope ascent of Challenger Point, another reason to summit early.
Sep 5, 2017 near Crestone, CO
View of Lower Willow Creek Lake, the waterfall, and Kit Carson Peak
Jul 11, 2018 near Crestone, CO
The view from the Willow Lake cliffs into San Luis Valley is truly remarkable.
May 10, 2015 near Crestone, CO
Willow Lake, its cliffs, and waterfall. Kit Carson and Challenger are up to the right, obscured from view.
May 10, 2015 near Crestone, CO

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