Rio Grande County Highpoint Trip Report
Bennett Peak (13,203 ft)
Date: July 1, 2005
Author: Layne Bracy
The three county highpoints for Conejos, Archuleta, and Rio Grande each require
easy to moderate hikes but are fairly remote, requiring lots of driving on
unpaved roads. I decided to try to get all three with a loop from South Fork.
The total time, round trip, from South Fork was 15 hours.
I left South Fork at 3:30 am, heading west on Highway 160. Turned on Park Creek
Road (FR 380), taking that to FR 250 through Platoro to FR 105. FR 105 is
signed "Lake Fork Ranch". As I neared the TH, I passed a sign that said "Trail
Closed" so I kept driving until the road got too sketchy. By this time, I had
already seen many elk, including a calf or two. I would see 40 or so this day,
on all three hikes and along much of the drive.
After completing Archuleta County, I took FR 380 to 330 to 329 towards Blowout Pass.
A mile from the TH, I saw a mid-sized golden bear on the road.
It scampered into the woods, watched me a little, and ran off before I could get a photo.
My second bear sighting in Colorado! The last 1/2 mile to the TH
requires high clearance, though it also came in handy for much of my drive today.
I was glad this was the shortest hike of the three and had a trail to the top!
Clouds were getting a little dark in some areas and I was tired. Started up at
3:27 pm. The 4WD road/jeep ruts go to the summit plateau. The route is simple
-- just turn left at the Bennett/Sheep saddle. Summitted at 4:25 pm to find a
giant and poorly constructed cairn. Lots of wildflowers everywhere.
Thunder in the distance kept me going quickly on the descent and I finished
the hike at 5:10 pm.
Drove back out to FR 330 and headed to Del Norte, pleased that the last 11 miles
were actually paved. Arrived back in South Fork at 6:30 pm, showered, and
devoured a large chicken fried steak at the Hungry Logger.