Carbonate & Cyclone Mountains

Carbonate & Cyclone Mountains

Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 38.62690°N / 106.2856°W
Additional Information Elevation: 13663 ft / 4164 m
Sign the Climber's Log


These two peaks are separated by a half mile and a minimum 336 ft. drop on the ridge between them. However, they share the same approach and are usually climbed together. They even look alike, from the west. Therefore, I have combined them on this peak page. Cyclone and Carbonate rise 2000 feet above the Cyclone Creek drainage, to the east. The climb and the descent are not as easy as it looks, because of a long, dense forest of willows on the approach, and an unending slope of unstable rocks above. But if you like solitude, good views of Sawatch fourteeners, and a chance to bag four peaks in a day, these are your mountains. Between 2001 and 2003, an average of 14 people per year signed the registers on Carbonate and Cyclone.

Carbonate Mountain is the higher summit, at 13,663' elevation. It lies directly west of Tabeguache Peak, in the southeastern section of the expansive Sawatch Range. Many of Carbonate's close neighbors are documented on SummitPost. Click on Nearby Mountains and Rocks, to the left. Cronin Peak, three humps to the north, is considered its "parent" (closest higher mountain). Cronin Peak was formerly known as North Carbonate. In this case the parent peak was named after the child! So... you can think of Carbonate as the ultimate "low-carb" mountain.

Cyclone tops out at 13,596', a half mile to the northwest of Carbonate. Cyclone Mountain must have been named for its conical shape and swirled appearance, from some angles. See photos.

Getting There

The shortest approach is from the Cyclone Creek trail.

Cyclone Creek Trailhead: The trailhead at 10,760' elevation provides access to Carbonate Mountain and Cyclone Mountain from the south and west. Drive 6 miles west on U.S. 50 from Poncha Springs. Turn north onto Chaffee County Road 240, which is well marked. Drive a little over 8 miles to the ghost town site of Shavano, also well marked. You will need a high clearance vehicle, but not four wheel drive, to make the last four miles of this road. Nice campsites are available along the road.

These mountains may also be climbed in combination with North Carbonate (Cronin Peak) or Tabeguache Peak. See those peak pages for various approaches.

Red Tape

These mountains are in the San Isabel National Forest. All visitors and forest users are subject to Federal Regulations. Read the rules, which address camping, vehicles, camp fires, pets, and several other issues.

When To Climb

Early June through September is the best time of year to climb mountains in the Sawatch. The morning hours are the safest time of day. Be aware of the potential for lightning on summer afternoons.


The Angel of Shavano Campground is about 4 miles below the trailhead along CR 240. Fee is $12 per night. Above that campground and along the same road there are approximately a dozen other small camping areas, good for one to five vehicles, with no fee. You may have to get there early to claim them, however. The North Fork Reservoir Campground ($6 per night) is two miles beyond the trailhead at 11,000 ft.

Mountain Conditions

Current conditions are maintained by the Forest Service at their web site. Besides the weather, they publish campground status, road conditions, trail status, and closures. You may call the Forest Service office at 719-553-1400. Or check the National Weather Service forecast for the Sawatch mountains.

Views From Cyclone Mountain

If it weren't for the views, I'm not sure I would still climb mountains.

Views From Carbonate Mountain

From either summit, you can see more beautiful Sawatch summits, any direction you look. The awe and mystery of God's creation is often considered from a summit like this.

Additions and CorrectionsPost an Addition or Correction

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JohnGolob - Aug 8, 2016 6:23 pm - Hasn't voted

Route Finding Help

I was up there on July 26, 2016 and want to offer some notes on finding the route. First, the National Geographic "Trails Illustrated" map is mistaken regarding the trailhead. When driving up the road the trailhead is before the old townsite, not after. And, the trail is on the east side of the creek, not the west as shown on the map. Once you know where to look the trail is easy to spot, a gash through the woods headed by a signpost that says No Motor Vehicles. The Cyclone Creek trail is easy to follow at first, but gets a little sketchier as you go further upstream. When you leave this trail to head up toward the saddle between Carbonate and Cyclone, it helps a lot if you can find a climbers trail that allows you to avoid loose talus. I want to help you find this trail. You want to leave the Cyclone Creek trail soon after it crosses to the west side of the creek, about a mile from the TH. It crosses to the west side of the creek where a large boulder field appears as an obstacle to continuing on the east side of the creek. You want to leave the main trail after passing this boulder field. You have two ways to get by this obstacle, either boulder hopping on the east side of the creek, or following the trail on the west side of the creek. I went up on the west side of the creek and came back over the boulder field. Pick your poison. Two creek crossing vs. a little boulder hopping. The boulders have lots of lichen on them, which would be slippery when wet. After going by the boulder field, leave the main trail and head up toward the saddle. I couldn't find a trail in this area, but stayed near the trees as long as I could because the grass and dirt provided secure footing. When you get beyond the trees look to the north for a trail along the hillside that avoids the talus. Finding this trail will make your day much more relaxing. I wasn't aware of this trail, and my instinct to stay in the middle of the gully kept me a little south of the trail. But if you angle a little north of the center of the gully and keep your eyes open, you should be able to spot it. Good luck. An easy way to bag to bicentennials.

CO14erBagger - Aug 24, 2016 9:59 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Route Finding Help

Subtitle: Don't sell Gerry Roach short! John, don't know if you're aware of this but Gerry Roach describes in detail the route up Cyclone/Carbonate from Cyclone Creek in his "Colorado's Thirteeners" book. (Under the section "North Carbonate" ["old" name for Cronin Peak]). I hiked Cyclone today (Aug 24, 2016) and tried your route up and Roach's down....I think your route is easier to find and perhaps hike providing you stay low in the trees. Specific thoughts: 1. I think the "sketchy" part of the trail you are referring to is soon after you start from the trailhead and encounter a number of downed trees crossing the trail. At this point the trail (old road) moves to the right (north) away from the creek. The downed trees can confuse one into thinking you need to stay close to the Creek. Bottom Line: Good trail until you cross Cyclone Creek. 2. It is unclear where the "Standard" (Viz Roach) trail goes after crossing to the west side of Cyclone Creek. We stayed close to the Creek and got soaked from the high-standing underbrush. (Storm in area, rained heavily the previous night). After crossing the Creek to the west side, the answer is to go up maybe 100-200 feet and you will find a high-quality trail paralleling the Creek and avoiding the willows and other undergrowth, far below. 3. The hiker's trail you found at treeline is the "Standard-Roach" that you take if following the west side of the Creek for about a mile after the crossing and then head NE towards the gully leading to the saddle between Cyclone & Carbonate. I put in a large cairn at about 12000 today, just below the highest tree clump to help guide hikers coming up your route or down the gully. My intention is that this cairn is at the junction of your route and Roach's.

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Children refers to the set of objects that logically fall under a given object. For example, the Aconcagua mountain page is a child of the 'Aconcagua Group' and the 'Seven Summits.' The Aconcagua mountain itself has many routes, photos, and trip reports as children.



Parents refers to a larger category under which an object falls. For example, theAconcagua mountain page has the 'Aconcagua Group' and the 'Seven Summits' asparents and is a parent itself to many routes, photos, and Trip Reports.

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