The Spanish Peaks can be seen for many miles and have been used for for hundreds of years as a landmark by those passing through the area. The Ute and Comanche Indians called the mountains "Wahatoya" which means "Breasts of the Earth" or "Breasts of the World". According to Indian legend, the Spanish Peaks were where the rain gods dwelled and where clouds were born to bring the summer rains. This is a good site
for history and geology of the area. Also check out http://www.spanishpeakscolorado.com/
for a more technical geological overview and description of the Spanish Peaks. (Thanks to Jon Bradford for this link)
Click on the above link and make note of the "dikes" which are described in detail. Once on the main road to the trailhead, you will pass by the largest dike in the area.
East Spanish Peak is the eastern most mountain of the two which includes West Spanish Peak . West Spanish Peak rises almost 1000 ft higher, and both form a gigantic double mountain which are visible for many miles. East Spanish Peak has an attraction of its own in that it is seldom climbed, thus, fewer people to encounter during your day. Also, don't be fooled by the fact that East Spanish Peak is 1000 ft. shorter than its sister to the west. In fact, via the standard routes of both, East Spanish Peaks' climb gains twice the elevation and is twice as far in distance. Do not take this peak lightly. It is an eleven mile long day.......but a great climb. Enjoy!
East Spanish Peak is located in southern Colorado's Sangre de Cristo range near the sleepy town of La Veta. La Veta is located 17 miles west of Walsenburg, Colorado.
Highway 12 is the road that drives through La Veta. Take highway 12 to the south end of La Veta and turn east on Cuchara Street (La Veta Loco restaurant). Continue straight on Cuchara street past two side streets. Cuchara shortly turns south. Continue on this dirt road for 1.1 miles (south) until reaching an intersection with a sign that says "Huajatolla Valley". Turn left (east) at this sign and follow this dirt road for 5.4 miles as the road gradually turns south again. At 5.4 miles, begin looking for a sign on the right which says "Wahatoya Trail #1304". Turn right (west) and park about 50 yards up the road. This is the lower trailhead. If you have a 4WD vehicle, you can continue on this road for another two miles until reaching the upper trailhead. To continue to the summit, see the left side-bar or click here for the West Ridge route description
East Spanish Peak is located in the Spanish Peaks Wilderness of the San Isabel National Forest. No permits are required to hike, climb, or camp. The wilderness area begins at the upper 4WD trailhead. No motorized vehicles, including bicyles in the wilderness. Pack animals are permitted.
San Isabel National Forest
San Carlos Ranger District
3170 East Main Street
Canon City, CO 81212
Phone (719) 269-8500
When To Climb
As with most Colorado high peaks, June through September is considered the summer climbing season. Violent thunderstorms are a daily occurrence in summer. Plan to be off the summit or ridges by early afternoon to avoid lightning danger. Start very early (sunrise) and allow 7-9 hours for climb and descent.
There are several RV parks and commercial campgrounds located in La Veta. The La Veta Chamber of Commerce website
is a good source for these campgrounds. The Elk Valley RV park is located one block from the road to the trailhead.
Once on the mountain, good campsites can be found along the road to the upper trailhead. Also, once on the trail, there are very good campsites located on the saddle between East and West Spanish Peaks. See the route description on the left side-bar for details.
The lower trailhead is located at 8300 ft. and the 4WD trailhead is located at 9100 ft. Treeline is at 11,600 ft. Above treeline the mountain is in very good condition. The rock is talus and very stable.
Webcam of the Spanish Peaks
There was a 3.4 magnitude earthquake in the early morning hours of October 4, 2008. The epicenter was first marked as being 4.16 miles SW of Trinchera Peak.
It was later determined to be 12.3 miles SE of East Spanish Peak, or about 5 miles south of the town of Gulnare. No damage was reported, but it was felt in Gulnare and also Cuchara. (Info courtesy of billokc).