Hagerman Peak is a prize peak among the beautiful Elks Range in central Colorado. It is only 0.6 miles from its beloved parent peak, 14,092' Snowmass Mountain
. Hagerman Peak is commonly viewed from either of two high altitude lakes. Geneva Lake, at 10,938' elevation is on the west side. Snowmass Lake, at 10,980' elevation is on the east. A good system of trails provides access to Hagerman from the west, south, or east. A well traveled pack trail over Trail Rider Pass connects the two lakes, south and east of Hagerman. Hagerman Peak offers more solitude than Snowmass, with equal or better scenery, and a slightly easier climb. And of course, it is in the elite group of Colorado's 100 highest "centennial" mountains, 13,800' or higher. Hagerman is ranked 87th on that list.
Relation to Snowmass Peak
From a vantage point at Snowmass Lake, far below and a mile to the east, Snowmass Peak looks like a significant summit, and Hagerman looks a shy neighbor behind it. This is an illusion. The reality is that Snowmass Peak is not a peak at all by normal definitions. It is merely the end point of Hagerman's east ridge as it descends for 0.4 miles from Hagerman's summit. But because the illusion is so convincing, and the end of the ridge looks so much like a peak from below, and it is so beautiful to look at, it had to have a name. Thus, Snowmass Peak is a named point on the USGS topo maps. There is a saddle and a small rise when descending the east ridge, about two-thirds the way from Hagerman to the end of the ridge. But this rise is not what people are seeing when they identify "Snowmass Peak" from below. See Jon Bradford's photo
for a truer perspective.
By the way, do not confuse Snowmass Peak with Snowmass Mountain
. Snowmass Mountain is a 14,092' mountain north of Hagerman Peak. Snowmass Peak is east, and mostly downhill from Hagerman's summit. Between Hagerman and Snowmass Peak, only the rough saddle in between requires any climbing.
These mountains are part of the spectacular Elk Range in central Colorado, far from any major roads. The nearest towns of size are Aspen, Carbondale, and Crested Butte, yet Hagerman Peak is a long drive from any of them. It lies in Gunnison County. The easiest access to Hagerman is through
Lead King Basin
A drive to the Lead King Basin will take you through Marble and Crystal, up the Crystal River, and past the famously photogenic Crystal Mill. The marble quarries at Marble, Colorado provided the stone for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Washington, DC, and many other marble structures.
From Glenwood Springs, take State Highway 82 south to Carbondale, then State Highway 133 about 20 miles further south to the base of McClure Pass. There, find the turnoff to Marble. The road to Marble is maintained even in the winter. Continue east from Marble as the road steepens. Turn right at the fork a mile or two past Marble. Follow the shelf road along the Crystal River 4 miles further, to the townsite of Crystal. Park just east of Crystal, or continue on the 4WD road for another 2 miles to the Lead King Basin trailhead. The road beyond Crystal is extremely rough.
There is a smoother route than the jeep road through Crystal. Turn left at the fork in the road a mile or two east of Marble. Follow this road over a pass at 10,900', and back down some sharp switchbacks to the Lead King Basin Trailhead. This road, and the one through Crystal, form a loop. I recommend the longer but smoother route.
Snowmass Creek Trailhead
Drive 28 miles south from Glenwood Springs on State Highway 82 to the town of Snowmass. Turn west onto Snowmass Creek Road. Turn left at the first T in the road and right at the next T, 11 miles from the highway, and almost at the end of the road. There is ample parking at the end of the road, at a ranch entrance. The road is well maintained and a passenger car works fine. This is the favored approach to Snowmass Mountain from the east. It is a much longer and more difficult way to approach Hagerman, than Lead King Basin.
Hagerman Peak is in the Maroon Bells Snowmass Wilderness Area
. As a wilderness area, no motorized vehicles are allowed on the trails. Those camping in the wilderness are required to register near the trailhead. Wilderness regulations are located on the permit. The most important rule is to not camp too close to a body of water.
This area is part of the White River National Forest. The Forest Ranger may be contacted at:
Aspen Ranger District
806 West Halam
Aspen, CO 81611
When To Climb
The best time to climb Hagerman Peak is in mid June through September. In all other months, snow is likely to make your climb much more difficult. Start early in the day, and be off the summit by noon, to avoid the dangers inherent in summer afternoon thunderstorms.
There are ample camping spots near the parking area at the Lead King Basin trailhead as well as along the road getting there. Many people like to backpack up to Geneva Lake the day before their climb and camp there. Camping is along the west side of the lake. There are other possible campsites along the way, mostly above
Those approaching Hagerman Peak from the east side of the mountain will find ample camping at Snowmass Lake.
Hazardous conditions are always possible this high in the mountains. Check the forecast for the west Elk mountains
before you go. Turn back if you don't like the conditions, and live to climb it another day!