• Date - 06/19/2024
  • Elevation - 13,588'
  • Route - North Ridge
  • Miles - 5.3
  • Elevation Gain - 2,432'
  • ACME Mapper - Link
  • CalTopo - Link
  • Partners - Not Applicable


Cottonwood Peak is a Bi-Centennial and the 193rd tallest peak in the state of Colorado according to old map elevations.  Juneteenth National Independence Day became a Federal holiday in 2021.  I took advantage of the day off by hiking Cottonwood Peak.  I drove to the trailhead the evening before.  The road to the trailhead is long and rough.  Similar to getting to Rito Alto, it wasn't super technical or difficult, but you have to go really slow and be prepared for a boring drive.

It actually got relatively cold during the night and I didn't sleep well in my tent at all.  As a result, I was up early and hiking before I originally planned.  I hiked on a road for about a half mile before a trail cuts right towards Silver Lake.  From the lake, I headed northwest to a saddle at 12,404'.  At this point you follow the ridge southwest and then south to the summit of Cottonwood Peak.  The hiking never exceeds class 2 and the grade is never very steep.

I didn't prepare well and could have used another layer, and the wind and weather were cold.  Clouds rolled in throughout the morning, so I only stayed on the summit for 5 minutes before reversing my route and hiking back down.  It took me 2 hours and 25 minutes to ascend and 1 hour and 25 minutes to descend for roughly a 4 hour car-to-car day.  I was basically out from 4:30 am to 8:30 am.  The drive out was annoying, but since I had an early start I was still able to get home at a descent time.


I parked and camped near a couple of old buildings.

Cottonwood Peak from my trailhead.

Silver Lake and Cottonwood Peak (right) after hiking for an hour.

Clouds beginning to roll into the area.

The north ridge of Cottonwood Peak.

Looking up the talus of the north ridge of Cottonwood Peak.

The sun, clouds, and weather were interesting from the summit.

The sun trying to peak out of the clouds.

Above the clouds on the summit of Cottonwood Peak.

Views to the north.

Summit Photo

Back at the saddle and below the cloud ceiling.