The Treasure Creek trail provides the standard access to Summit Peak. Your hike begins at 10,900' in Conejos County, and ends at the high point of Archuleta County, Colorado. Indeed, at 13,300' you are atop the entire South San Juan Mountain Range.
One way distance: 2.3 miles Elevation gain: 2400'
Treasure Creek provides the most beautiful series of waterfalls you are ever likely to see in one day. There are at least seven cascades to be seen if you stay close to the creek.
From Antonito, drive 22 miles west on Highway 17 to Horca. Turn off there onto Forest Road 250, a bumpy gravel road which takes you northwest toward Platoro (another 20 miles). Along the way you will be enjoying the majestic scenery of the Conejos River.
From Platoro, continue about 7 miles up and over Stunner Pass to the junction with Road 380. Turn west onto 380. Pass Stunner Campground on your left and continue 4 more miles to a Y at some privately owned lakes. Take the low road (left) another 3 miles to its end. This is the Treasure Creek trailhead and it is only 1.6 miles straight line distance to Summit Peak from here.
Treasure Creek Route
Find the trailhead among several possibilities there where you park. You want the trail closest to the creek. It is a good trail and stays close to the creek. The trail climbs steeply for the first half mile.
Past the fourth waterfall, and at about 0.5 miles, the trail starts to disappear. These are your clues to find a good, narrow place to cross the creek, perhaps just before the fifth waterfall, which is one of the bigger falls. Don't expect a trail on the south side of the creek, although you may stumble on one by accident.
Climb a broad slope where the trees start to thin out. Ahead, you will see a large rock buttress, blocking your view of the summit. You may go around either side of this subsummit, but you will find it easier to go around to the right (northwest) side and pick up a good trail there, a ways beyond timberline. That way also you will have great photo opportunities as you walk straight toward the cliffs of Summit Peak's impressive north face.
At about 12,600' elevation, this trail merges with the Continental Divide Trail. Follow this easy trail for about a quarter mile around Summit Peak's east ridge, below a small talus field.
Once you have a full view of the Summit Peak's steep, grassy, south-facing slopes, leave the trail and head for the summit. Aim for a notch near the summit. In good weather and in summertime, this is a delightful tundra climb surrounded by acres and acres of wildflowers.
Standard day hiking gear.
"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us."
--Ralph Waldo Emerson