North Ridge via Major Creek Trail

Page Type
Colorado, United States, North America
Route Type:
Time Required:
A long day
Class 2

Route Quality: 3 Votes

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Created On: Oct 25, 2003
Last Edited On: Jun 13, 2006


Drive 26 miles south from Poncha Springs on US-285 to the major intersection with SH-17. Take SH-17 and immediately look sharp on your left for Saguache County Road GG. Follow CR-GG for 6 miles to a fork. The left fork remains CR-GG and leads to Valley View Hot Springs. The right fork is CR-65 and leads to the Hot Springs Trailhead after 0.5 miles. After another 0.5 miles, take a sharp left turn onto CR 66-FF with the Major Creek Trailhead following 0.1 miles afterward.

Route Description

RT Distance: 11.9 miles
Elevation Gain: 5600'

Private land blocks the most direct entrance to Major Creek. Access may have changed fairly recently, because in 2003 the trail differed from what's described in the CMC "Ormes Guide" and the Garrett & Martin high thirteeners book. After skirting the western edge of Lakes Peak's long west ridge, the trail drops 200' to Major Creek. You can see a few houses to the west. Follow the trail east as it climbs through open scrublands, fir forests, aspen stands, meadows, and most importantly, prime beaver country. Note that you must cross Major Creek no less than four times during the hike toward your goal.

Beavers remain active agents of change in Major Creek. Due to flooding, the trail is often a secondary path for the creek to flow, and in 2003 at the fourth and final creek crossing, the beavers had completely flooded the trail with a new pool, blocking what was once an easy crossing. Instead, I went further west along the south side of the creek, weaving through felled aspens until I found a place to walk along a dam to the other side. SP member Jon Bradford reported in 2006 that the Forest Service has re-routed the trail onto the slopes north of the creek to avoid the most extensive beaver ponds.

At around 10,000', the drainage splits. Heading to the right leads to an alternate route to Electric's summit via the unranked twelver, Mount Neidhardt. But this is not the way to Electric Pass. Head left at the fork. After gaining 1600' over the course of 5 miles, you must now gain elevation in earnest. As you hike upward and pass through more meadows, views of Lakes Peak will appear to the northeast.

Continue hiking to an upper basin at 11,200'. Evidence of an avalanche from winter of 2003 was all over this basin in early June, and the trail switchbacked through its path several times. Continue to follow the trail to 12,460' Electric Pass. This pass also provides easy access to Lakes Peak, the summit just north of here.

From the pass, take the obvious route up steep slopes to the right of Electric Peak's dramatic northern subpoint. After gaining this quick 800', you've only a long, gentle alpine jaunt on grass and some talus to reach Electric's summit. Return via your ascent route.

Essential Gear

Typical hiking gear, unless weather/conditions dictate otherwise.

North Ridge via Major Creek Trail

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