Conejos County Highpoint Trip Report
Conejos Peak (13,172 ft)
Date: September 5, 2005
Author: Adam Helman
Note: All NAD27 UTM coordinates are in zone 13S.
This effort was part of a larger journey
collecting Colorado county highpoints in early September 2005.
The trailhead has been moved along FR105 closer to the alternative trailhead
located at a hairpin turn.
To access the new trailhead, drive east (uphill) on FR105 from the hairpin turn trailhead for 0.9 mile.
Here, at UTM (364401 E, 4129654 N), with elevation 11,380 feet, bear left (north) onto a side road
that is actually in better condition than several sections of FR105. Thus if you were
able to drive to the aforementioned junction, you will, snow notwithstanding, be able to drive
up this side road.
The side road bends west, and, after perhaps one-third mile, terminates at the new trailhead
for Tobacco Lake (and Conejos Peak) at UTM (363834 E, 4129779 N), elevation 11,540 feet.
If you drive to the old trailhead all that one finds is an abandoned trail leading south
from the (very) rocky road, and no signage indicating a place to park.
A pole is noted in Dave Covill and John Mitchler's Colorado highpoints guidebook as a key
waypoint enroute to Conejos Peak. One is advised to turn right (west) at this pole
for access to Tobacco Lake as part of the standard route.
The wood pole has broken at its base and lies unceremoniously on the ground.
The pole, with the trail junction it marked, is at UTM (362859 E, 4128719 N). It lies on the
right (west) side of the southbound trail (from the carpark), and is approximately four feet in length
and six inches in diameter.
John Hamann and I failed to spot this (fallen) pole, and ended up one drainage too far south
of the standard route. Noting that Conejos Peak was suddenly due west of us, John took up my
proposal to simply climb the steep scree immediately east of the summit rather than
backtrack north to regain the standard route at Tobacco Lake.
Our descent followed the standard route. Anxious to learn of how our error occurred,
we finally arrived at the fallen pole. I then recorded its coordinates for future highpointers.
An attempt to reinstate the pole proved futile - the base was fractured as if by malicious intent
from either an enormous creature or some disgruntled human trash.
Conejos Peak is a "classic" hike - beautiful alpine scenery and of moderate duration.
It may turn out to be my subjectively favorite Colorado county highpoint based upon a
hypothetical climb involving no navigation error. Flat Top Mountain of Garfield County
contends for this prized title as well. With eleven remaining Colorado county highpoints
a final determination remains elusive.