South Ridge

Page Type: Route
Lat/Lon: 39.63600°N / 106.17°W
Route Type: hike/scramble
Time Required: A long day
Difficulty: easy class 3


Red Peak is a quite an undertaking for a day hike. I would recommend an overnight camp high in Meadow Creek, close to Eccles Pass.

I discovered the Meadow Creek approach to Red Peak to be the easiest way to climb the South Ridge Route based on extensive topo research. Jacobs and Ormes “Colorado Mountains” suggests the standard route on Red Peak to start at Gore Range Trail at South Willow Creek or the Gore Range Trail at Gore Creek Campground off I-70, each approach is 6 miles. The Meadow Creek approach is 5.5 miles and gets southern sun exposure for faster snowmelt.

Conditions vary, depending on the time of year. We climbed Red Peak in late May, where we encountered snow at about 11,000-ft. Because of all of the residual snow pack in early spring you must hike and climb Red Peak in the early a.m. hours (between 5:00 & 11:00 a.m.-meaning you must start and summit and back to snow less terrain by 11:00 a.m.) to take advantage of the overnight freezing for fast snow travel. Five miles of this RT hike in late May and early June is on snow. Believe me when I say you do not want to post hole up to your knees and waist consistently for five miles.

RT from Meadow Creek TH-13.88 miles
RT-Vertical Gain 4,950-ft

The following route description is for ideal summer conditions. If you are interested in detailed beta concerning an ascent up Red Peak in May or Early June, just e-mail me.

Starting at Meadow Creek TH at 9,200-ft, follow the obvious Meadow Creek Trail 2.76 miles and 1,800-ft; the trail relents here at a fine looking meadow and affords you first views of Demming Mountain directly northwest. From here, continue on this trail another 1.91 miles and 925 vertical feet to Eccles Pass at 11,900-ft. There are some nice places to camp in the high, expansive and willow-laden meadow below the huge east face of Demming Mountain.

From Eccles Pass the route up Red Peak’s south ridge is in view 2.5 miles away. Descend 350-ft into the upper South Willow Creek Basin and traverse about 1.20 miles and ascend to Red Buffalo Pass at 11,740-ft.

Route Description

From Red Buffalo Pass, ascend Red Peak’s south ridge 1,210-ft, to a spot where the ridge suddenly bends to the east (class 2+). At this point the ridge narrows and turns to easy class 3 for 200-vertical-ft to its rather small summit.

Essential Gear

Ice Axe and crampons are necessary in early to mid May.