OverviewThe Elkhead Mountains are one of the least known and visited ranges in the state of Colorado. They are unusual that they are one of the few mountain ranges in the USA to run east-west, rather than north-south. Hahns Peak is the only peak in the Elkhead Mountains that is well-known and frequently climbed (with the possible exception of Sand Mountain), though some sources put Hahns Peak as part of the Park Range. Most of the other summits in the Elkheads see only a few ascents a year.
Note: There is some confusion as to whether Hahns Peak and Mount Farwell belong to the Sierra Madre or the Elkhead Mountains. According to the book the History of the Elkhead Mountains, Hahns Peak is the eastern-most point in the Elkhead Mountains.
From what I gather, the Elkhead Mountains end at the saddle between Hahns Peak and Farwell Mountain.
Hahns Peak is famous for its perfectly shaped cone and is a laccolith. One our first climb, we had to use our imagination, as to what the peak looked like, because we climbed the peak in a raging blizzard and never did get a view of or from the mountain. More pictures have been added since.
Don't let the low elevation of Hahns Peak fool you. Despite being lower than many of the other peaks in Colorado, the SNOTEL (weather station for measuring snowdepth) site on Hahns Peak consistently measures some of the greatest snowfalls/depths in the state of Colorado. Timberline on Hahns Peak is the lowest on any peak in Colorado that I know of and is at 10,300 feet. Timberline-gales are observed at elevations below 10,000 feet attesting to the frequent storms that slam Hahns. The peak stands alone, and despite the low elevation, in the summer, the peak sees frequent lightning strikes; enough for the forest service to place a warning sign on the summit.
Hahns Peak is capped with a fire-lookout that was built in the 1912 and reconstructed in 1942. The fire lookout lasted only until the 1950's because of frequent lightning strikes. The fire lookout has been restored and is a state historical site. Unfortunately we un-intentionally left the camera in the pack when ditching packs 200 feet short of the summit. The cabin was coated in thick ice/hoarfrost and was rather interesting.
In summer, Hahns Peak is fairly easy mountain to climb, and a good family hike. In winter, it is more challenging.
Elkhead Mountains-10,000+ Foot Peaks with 300+ feet of Prominence
Getting ThereFrom Steamboat Springs, drive to the north end of town and to where County Road 129 leaves Highway 40. A sign marks "Clark" and "Hahns Peak". This is the same road heading to the airport. Follow County Road 129 north for about 29 miles, past the small town of Hahns Peak, and to the small village of Columbine. In winter, you will have to park at the Columbine General Store. The road is always open to this point.
In summer, you can drive east off County Road 29, on FS Road 490. After 0.9 miles turn left. The road is pretty good for all vehicles here, but becomes rougher after this (4wd recommended). Turn left after another 0.3 miles and left again after another 0.2 miles. Soon you will reach a parking area. Park here unless you are prepared for some really serious off-roading. If you have a good 4wd, you can drive another 0.5 miles to the beginning of the actual trail, but there is only enough room at that trailhead for one vehicle, and there isn’t a good place to turn around.
Routes OverviewThere are two access routes commonly used to climb Hahns Peak. The first is from the town of Hahns Peak on the south side of the mountain. The second is the Columbine Route from the west and the tiny villiage of Columbine and the General Store there. This is the most poular route because it is the shortest route to the summit. For details on the route, see the route page.
Red TapeNo permits are required. Respect the private property along FS Road 490. This road has public access, but you are not allowed to pull over or trespass on the adjacent private property.
When To ClimbThe normal summer climbing season is late-June through September. The peak can be climbed year round with the right skills and equipmement. Outside the summer season, you must park at Columbine (see above).
CampingNot far from the trailhead is the Hahns Peak Lake Campground
Here is a link to reserve a spot, and read more about the campground:
Hahns Peak Lake Campground
CLICK HERE FOR THE WEATHER FORECAST FOR HAHNS PEAK
Below is the National Weather Service Climate Summary of Steamboat Springs. The data is from 1908-2005. This is the closest long term weather station, but be aware that higher elevations will be much wetter and colder. Steamboat Springs is at 6695 feet elevation, so expect the temperatures on Hahns Peak to be 10-20 degrees colder than in Steamboat (except for cold winter nights).
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