Mesa County High Point Trip Report

Leon Peak on USGS quadrangle Leon Peak (11,236 ft)

Date: June 22, 2002
Author: Gary Swing

We started in Denver at 5am on Saturday morning and drove out to Grand Mesa National Forest for the hike of Leon Peak. We took I-70 to DeBeque, where we headed south on a windy paved road for 12 miles to join CO-65 southbound. Sixteen miles south of Powderhorn Ski Area, we turned left on FR 121 for eight miles. Then we turned right on FR 126 for another 3 miles to a trailhead parking area in Weir and Johnson Reservoir Campground at the end of the road.

From the campground, we hiked north on an easy trail marked "Sissy" which passed east (to the right of) two small lakes. The first lake is marked as either Round Lake or Sissy Lake on maps, and the second is Leon Park Reservoir. Just past Leon Park Reservoir, we intersected a small, gentle ridge rising to the left. We headed northwest up the wooded ridge with sections of faint path that we could follow. The ridge became very rocky with the trees giving way to volcanic talus and boulders. It was windy and cool above the trees. Soon after the ridge leveled out and we could see the summit of Leon Peak clearly to the northwest, we contoured or traversed slightly downhill into the gully descending from the northwest to the southeast that separated us from Leon Peak. From the gully, we chose our own lines to scramble north or northwest to the summit. I took a fairly direct and steep line with some more substantial boulders, ending up just to the right of the summit. On the summit, there stood a frame of an old fire lookout post built in 1911 or 1912 with a summit register stashed inside.

On the hike back, we descended the summit a little further west of where I had climbed up, on some easier terrain. We traversed across the gully between the ridge and the summit, intersecting the ridge further to the west than we had left it on the ascent.

Leon Peak was a nice short hike and scramble. The difficulty is perhaps overstated in the guidebook "Hiking Colorado's Summits," which says that Leon "offers some of the most brutal boulder scrambling of any Colorado county highpoint."

Trip Statistics: 3 miles round trip, 830 ft elevation gain.