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Kit Carson North Ridge

Extremely Difficult

Trail

1.1 mile 1.8 kilometer point to point
48% Runnable
Extremely Difficult

Elevation

Ascent: 2,117' 645 m
Descent: -8' -2 m
High: 14,020' 4,273 m
Low: 11,903' 3,628 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 36% (20°)
Max Grade: 133% (53°)

Dogs

No Dogs
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Trail shared by Tyler Prince

One of the most prolonged class 3 scrambles on any Colorado 14er.

Tyler Prince

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

Dogs will not be able to climb the class 3-4 terrain on the North Ridge.

Runner Notes

From the rocky fields below the ridge to the ridge itself, this route is hard to navigate and requires many technical moves. It is not runnable.

Description

From the top of the Willow Lake Trail above Willow Lake's stunning cliffs, look southeast for a set of cliff bands. Your goal is to run just past these to the bottom of the North Ridge. For easier terrain, stay low in the basin and run along a stream to this point. Alternatively, talus-hop about 0.7 miles past the lake to reach the bands.

Pass the cliff bands on your right and start to make your way up a short, grassy slope. Outward Bound Couloir, a steep snow route, is up and to your left. Stay right of this and continue up the grass to reach to ridge in 100-200 vertical feet. Toward the end of this, the scrambling starts. Make your way up a steep face and continue to the right to find the true spine of the North Ridge. While there may be some class 4 moves before this point and after, most of the route can be kept to class 3.

Once on the spine, you've got 1000 ft of fun, exposed scrambling on solid rock ahead of you. It's a ton of fun, and there's no reason to spoil it suggesting specific routes. Simply scramble up to around 13,700 ft, where the ridge flattens briefly before ramping up again just below the summit.

As this is a prolonged, exposed, technical route, it is not a good intro to alpine scrambling. That said, it's nothing crazy and is a ton of fun. A definite improvement over Kit Carson's standard route via Challenger Point Trail and Kit Carson Trail.

Due to the grade, descending this trail isn't really an option, so beware that a) it's committing and b) you'll probably have to come back down via Kit Carson Trail and Challenger Point Trail.

Flora & Fauna

Once on the ridge itself, there's not much other than pika and marmots.

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Trail Ratings

  4.8 from 4 votes

#2

in Crestone

#5203

Overall
  4.8 from 4 votes
5 Star
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4 Star
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Trail Rankings

#2

in Crestone

#370

in Colorado

#5,203

Overall
6 Views Last Month
843 Since May 1, 2015
Extremely Difficult

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Photos

Humbolt, Columbia Point, and the Crestones on a hazy day, just below the Kit Carson Summit.
Jul 30, 2018 near Crestone, CO
Challenger Point as seen from the summit of Kit Carson. Unfortunately, it's much farther away than it looks.
May 10, 2015 near Crestone, CO
Typical North Ridge terrain.
May 10, 2015 near Crestone, CO
Short shorts at home on the North Ridge.
May 10, 2015 near Crestone, CO

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