Lewis Peak is the second highest peak at an elevation of around 12,678ft in the Medicine Bow Mountains of Northern Colorado. Lewis Peak has 408ft, which meets the 300ft prominence rule to be a true peak. Lewis Peak's east slopes are in Rawah Wilderness Area and its western slopes reside in Colorado State Forest Land. Located right next to its higher neighbor Clark Peak, Lewis Peak is often overlooked because of the fact that Clark Peak is the highest peak in the range and receives the majority of the attention (which still is not that much). Most people do not put in the effort to climb this peak, however, it has amazing views of Northern Colorado, the Rawah Wilderness and also of Clark Peak.
Route InformationThere are two ways to climb Lewis Peak.
Island Lake- It is around 8 miles to Island Lake from the West Branch Trail head. Once at Island Lake (11,145ft) or Carey Lake(11,077ft), head south towards and pass Lake 11338 and Lake 11370. Stay on the left (east side) and keep heading upwards following a small stream. Once above the cliff band above these lakes, Lewis Peak will be towering above you. You have many options here. You could go west towards the ridge that connects Lewis Peak to Peak 12,378 and climb Lewis Peak's north ridge. Or, you could keep heading southeast and climb up the east ridge (there is a big snowfield that resides here until late in the summer. Or, you could go to the Saddle between Lewis Peak and Clark Peak and climb the south ridge. All of these options have about the same mileage, elevation gain and terrain. From Island Lake, it is around 4 miles roundtrip with 1,533ft of elevation gain. Class 2-3 depending upon route finding.
Blue Lake- It is around 5 miles to Blue Lake (10,697ft) from the Blue Lake Trailhead. From Blue Lake, head up to the saddle between Clark Peak and Cameron Peak. From the saddle, follow Clark Peak's prominent Northeast Ridge. Climb Clark Peak then descend to the saddle between Clark and Lewis Peak. Climb Lewis Peak's south ridge. From Blue Lake, it is around 6 miles roundtrip with 2600ft of elevation gain. Class 2-3 depending upon route finding.
Red TapeThe only Red Tape in the Rawah's is the snow. The Medicine Bow Mountains are a notoriously snowy range. Roads to the the trail heads open late May to early June (with the exception of the Blue Lake Trailhead which can be open year round because it is along HWY 14). For current conditions, HERE. If the roads are still open, access higher wont normally be snow free until mid-June. Bugs are bad in June as well.
-Camping and fire building are prohibited within 200 feet of all lakes, streams and trails to protect water quality, sensitive vegetation and to help assure solitude.
-Camping is prohibited within one-quarter mile of Blue Lake and Hang Lake. Do not camp or use a fire in revegetative sites. These areas are seeded with native, high-altitude grasses and need protection to grow.
-Campfires are prohibited in the alpine areas above 10,800 feet. Campfires consume scarce vegetation and leave permanent scars on the fragile soils of the area.
-No camping around Blue Lake or Hang Lake
The closest established camping can be found at Chambers Lake Campground.
Also, if your in the area, be sure to check out Rawah Falls right below Timber Lake!
Getting ThereFrom Fort Collins to the West Branch Trailhead- Head west on HWY 14 (Poudre Canyon Highway). Follow the Poudre Canyon Highway for 51 miles until you reach CO Road 103 (if you reached the Chambers Lake Campground you have gone too far). Take a right and follow this road around the east side of Chambers Lake. Follow this nice dirt road for just under 7 miles until you reach the West Branch Trailhead on the right-you cant miss it. For other trailhead information, see the page on the Medicine Bow Mountains.
Blue Lake Trailhead- If you are starting at the Blue Lake Trailhead, instead of taking a right on CO Road 103, keep going straight on HWY 14 for 2.2 miles and until you reach the Blue Lake Trailhead on your right.
External LinksRawah Wilderness
Arapaho National Forest Service page for the Rawah Wilderness
Current Weather Conditions
Current weather conditions as forecasted by NOAA