Converse County High Point Trip Report

Warbonnet Peak (9,414 ft)

Date: September 7, 2003
Author: Dave Covill

I journeyed to Wyoming on Saturday, September 6th to join Adam Helman and Jobe Wymore for a hike of Warbonnet Peak. I left Denver at 4 PM on Saturday, and made it to Douglas WY by 7:30 PM via I-25. We had agreed to meet at the Campbell Creek Campground on the west side, and hike it from the National Forest on the west side, about 1,500 feet of gross gain over maybe 4 miles one-way.

Since I had a little time to kill before heading out to the campground and crashing, I decided to try and get clever. I noted Walt O'Neill's trip report, which had a name and phone number for the east side approach via private hunting ranch property. I tried to call that number from a pay phone, but it was not a valid number. After talking to a few locals, I tried a relative of the gentleman who owned the ranch, Dick Strock. I talked to a granddaughter, who said he had moved into town from the ranch recently, and she gave me his cell phone number. I had a pleasant 15 minute chat with him. I would say he is pushing 75 at least, maybe more. He was fine with me using his approach, and said that his son in law would be out there for deer bow and arrow hunting and that the gate, which was really just a wire across a cattle guard, would be laying on the ground, and they didn't lock it anyway, and there was a barb wire ranch gate to the left which could be opened as well. He also said he had used a 4-wheeler (ATV?) to get out there earlier this year, but that the road was "faint".

I told Adam and Jobe all this, and they agreed to forego the western approach and try from the east. If successful, we would have a hike of about 1.5 miles and 500 feet of gain. We drove back the way we had come the night before, and turned and took the left hand fork, noting the turn to the Strock ranch. We encountered the wire gate, laying on the cattle guard, as Dick had said we would. We saw the ranch a bit farther, and saw a truck there. We turned in and chatted with the son in law, Bob Langston, and he said the road was faint. We pressed on, and took about 4 wrong turns on faint 2-tracks, before giving up maybe 3 miles from our objective, at an elevation of about 8,100 feet here.

We bushwhacked cross country, generally heading west and slightly uphill, and crossed the 4WD road shown on the map at about 8,200 feet in section 31. We had to cross over several small ridges and valleys to do this. We arrived at the base of the summit, and Jobe wanted to try a frontal approach, having much pent-up energy from waiting for Adam & me all day. He did so, while Adam & I crossed left to the South shoulder and came up the southwest side southwest side. It involves small boulders and talus for the final 100 feet, but I would call it Class 2+ at most.

Great view, we could see Laramie Peak 10+ miles to the East, and many other similar 9,000-footers nearby us. It took us about 3 hours up and 2 hours down, with over a half hour on top.

We could see the road we were supposed to have found, and noted it curved north for a couple of miles before heading back east towards the Strock ranch. It could probably be found pretty easily if a person had a topo map of the whole area and was in nice condition where we crossed it, certainly suitable for a typical 4WD SUV. A shame we were not equipped with the right maps to come in this way. I suggest that the next person ask for permission, and make another attempt from the east side via the Strock Ranch, this time armed with a topo to find the route. Upon leaving, we thought we could see a fork to the right (north) about 1/2 mile form the ranch, where we had gone left straight towards the peak. Perhaps that was the right fork to take. I have a red X on it below, just above the ranch. It curves northwest, then west, then southwest to the peak. We went due west, following our noses. Refer to this map for an overview.

Anyway - here is how to get to either approach. Note that Walt O'Neill's distances vary GREATLY from mine, which I compiled with Adam in the car.

From I-25, at the north exit to Douglas (#146), get off, head east into town a hundred yards to light at highway 59 at the edge of the ramp. Zero Odometer. Go right (south) 0.4 mile, turn right (west) onto CR 94. Continue as it goes north then northwest along the west side of interstate, following right as it becomes 91/96 instead of 94 at 0.5 mile. Continue west on 91/96 to 3.5 miles, and at a fork go left (south) on 91. Continue all the way to 23.3 miles, where pavement ends and good gravel begins. Follow this to a major fork at 26.1 miles.

Here you can go right (southwest) to the Campbell Creek Campground, or left (southeast) to the Strock Ranch approach. For the campground, go 11.2 miles to the right on Cold Spring Road (CR 24) on decent gravel. The campground is on the left, in woods of course, just past some buildings that looked like forest service houses. From here, the forest looked dense but passable, with the peak not visible from the road some 3 miles away to the east.

From the fork, you can stay left, on what is known as Ft Fetterman Road, for 7.3 miles on excellent gravel almost to the county line. Cross tow named Creeks. At 7.3 miles, note the 2 white & red posts on either side of a poor right hand dirt road. Zero odometer here. Go 0.5 mile to Strock Ranch Gate, which was a thin wire across, and was down on the ground. Mr. Strock told us it would be down, and said if not, it could easily be opened, without a lock, or bypassed to the left via the standard wired & looped stock gate. At 1.7 miles, you could veer left and down into a creek and up to the cabin, or continue straight west. Just past here is another gate, with a tire on the post, announcing a new landowner, which Mr. Strock had told me about. There was not a wire across it. Just past here was the possible right hand turn northwest on the correct road. I will not bore you with the details of our further driving escapades; suffice to say we probed several pitiful roads, going another 2 miles or so, before calling it as good as it was gonna get.

Dick Strock - 307-351-3235. Son-in-law Bob Langston, granddaughter Laney. The number in Walt's report is disconnected.