Mesa County Highpoint Trip Report

Leon Peak (11,236 ft)

Date: July 24, 2004
Author: Layne Bracy

We stayed in Grand Junction Friday night at my friend's place after a one-night backpacking trip. He had moved from Iowa a week ago and was game to highpoint his new home county with us. We had read in a local paper that 50 of 1000 mosquitoes in Mesa County were testing positive for West Nile Virus, so we permeated ourselves with bug spray. Mark also had a repellent bracelet that gave off a mighty powerful scent, so I think we escaped uninfected!

I'll admit that I didn't expect much of this short walk but, as seems the pattern for these highpoints, it was a unique hike.

The drive to the hike is itself worth it for the views of the mesa. We started at 10 am up FT717. This immediately forks - we took the left branch that indicates "Sissy". Ignoring the slight, we followed the trail which quickly reaches Round Lake and then Leon Peak Reservoir, seeming shorter than its 0.7mile. We followed the trail a couple minutes past the lake until it reached a mini-pass, whereupon we bore left(west). We ascended a mini-ridge, then walked down a little and up onto the main ridge that would lead to Leon Peak.

By following the top of the ridge, the route is fairly simple and the route is dotted with cairns. After gaining a couple hundred feet we were above the trees and from here to the summit it is a constant boulder hop. What makes this hike different from others I've done in Colorado is that the boulders are pock-marked volcanic, many with neon-green lichen spotting the ruddy rock.

As recommended in the text, we followed the ridge a little west of the summit before heading northeast up to the top, which we reached in 1 hour, 15 minutes. While the boulders are relentless, the route we followed was class 2. We enjoyed but a brief stay near the fire lookout on top as clouds were building and then beat our retreat.

Round-trip time was 2 hours, 30 minutes.