Converse County Highpoint Trip Report

Warbonnet Peak

Date: May 24, 2009
Author: Edward Earl

Warbonnet Peak is much more difficult than its numbers make it seem. The elevation gain is only about 1600' and the total distance is only about 7 miles RT, which would be only about a 3-4 hour effort for a seasoned hiker. Trailless bushwhacking, deadfall, swamp and stream crossings, navigation challenges, and in my case snow add considerably to the effort, which took some 6 hours total.

I began by following Walt O'Neil's report: from I-25 on the W side of Douglas, take exit 140, turn R under the freeway, then turn R again onto WY-91. Call this point mile 0.0. At mile 2.9, WY-96 goes straight ahead where I turned L to remain on WY-91. After that point, however, I was not able to correlate Walt's directions with my observations. The pavement does not end until mile 22.1. At mile 22.3 is the Powderhorn Ranch entrance on the R. At 25.8 miles, I turned R at a FS sign saying 11 miles to Campbell Creek Campground. At 31.1 miles and again at 33.1 miles, I crossed a bridge with a list of weight limits. At 33.2 miles, I passed H Bar V Ranch. At 33.4 miles, I crossed a bridge. At 34.2 miles, I passed the Twin Peaks TH on the R. At 36.7 miles, I crossed another bridge with weight limits. Finally I reached Campbell Creek CG at 36.8 miles. I parked in a small spur on the main road just past the CG.

I hiked through the CG and found a use trail (probably "maintained" by CG users fishing in Campbell Creek) running upstream (SE) along Campbell Creek itself: first on the R side, then crossing a couple of times before fading after a half mile or less. After that I was on my own, and I followed the L side of the creek through brush, deadfall, swamps, and occasional drifts of soft, deep snow. Snow became more frequent as I gained elevation. After gaining what I estimated to be about 700-800 feet, I left the creek and scrambled L up a steep, rocky slope for perhaps 300 feet EG. I eventually broke out of the forest and gained a ridge top where I determined that I was on the ridge NE of Point 9254. I then turned NE on this ridge and negotiated a few bumps until I reached the rocky ramparts of Point 9310. I contoured around the S side of Point 9310, staying low where it was not very steep and mostly open; occasional snow was the only impediment. I finally reached the open saddle about 1000' E of Point 9310. From there I headed E, not very steep at first, then suddenly becoming much steeper and snow-covered as the slope entered the forest. Threading my way through scattered rocks E of Point 9223, I finally reached the summit after a steeper class 2 push up the final 50 feet.

On the descent, I retraced my route of ascent until I reached the saddle about 0.4 mile SW of Point 9310. At that point I turned NW, downhill, and soon reached the eastern tributary of Campbell Creek. From then on I followed the creek back to the CG.

I recommend that future HPers coming from Campbell Creek use my route of descent. Follow Campbell Creek SE and S until reaching the fork at 8600'. This fork is hard to identify and GPS (which I didn't have) will help. Turn L, following the E fork of Campbell Creek, then head for the saddle 0.4 mile SW of Point 9310. Again, GPS will help find the right saddle. After that you can follow natural features to the summit.