"Obstruction Peak" Overview
I am not certain of the origins of this mountain's unofficial name, “Obstruction Peak,” but I would not be surprised if it has something to do with the mountain's pesky location between the popular South Colony Lakes drainage and the Kit Carson massif. The mountain is an obstruction visually, as it hides Kit Carson and company well, but it is also an obstruction physically, as one must climb over it to reach Columbia Point, Kit Carson or Challenger. It is not much of a "climb" at that--more like a hike up a really tall hill like nearby Humboldt Peak.
Still, the peak has its redeeming qualities (in bold): it is a ranked thirteener
, just shy of making the list of Colorado's centennial peaks. Topping out at one foot below 13,800 feet, this much-overlooked mountain is one of Colorado’s highest “bicentennial” peaks, that is: within the 200 highest
. According to Gerry Roach’s list, it is ranked #107 in height amongst Colorado’s mountains, and 16th within the beautiful Sangre de Cristo Range. For the most part, it is not rugged like most of it’s neighbors, instead allowing a relatively easy hike to its lofty perch, which makes for an accessible (but sometimes long) hike year-round
. The mountain does take on a different character from the north and west
, and I imagine there are some hidden and yet undiscovered lines to be tackled from these sides of the mountain. In any case, the view from the summit
is worth it: from Obstruction's centralized location
one can gaze in awe at the mighty Crestones, Kit Carson, Columbia Point, Mount Adams, Broken Hand Peak, and many other fantastic mountains of the Sangres.
From Westcliffe, drive south on Colorado 69 for four and a half miles. Turn onto Custer County 119 (Colfax Lane) unto the road ends at a “T.” Turn right. Humboldt Peak is ahead of you, and nothing separates you from the basin with South Colony Lakes except a rough 5.2-mile dirt and rock road. Two wheel drive vehicles must park at the trailhead before this. The first 1.5 miles of 4wd road run across private property, so stay on the road. Beyond this, you are in San Isabel National Forest, and there are numerous parking and camping spots along the road. If driving to the 4wd parking, there is also some room to park and camp in this area. Hike just more than a mile from here and you will be at timberline next to lower South Colony Lake (about 11,700 feet). There are numerous camping spots here as well, but be careful to obey the signs and do not camp within 300 yards of the lakes. Check out the Route Information
for more useful beta.
Before you head out to "Obstruction Peak" be sure to check out the forecast. Weather is infamous for changing rapidly in this area, and I have seen it do so on several occasions with my own eyes. The NOAA forecast
is often considered the most reliable, but be prepared for anything!
Red Tape & Camping
There is no red tape that I am aware of. However, if you plan on driving the five miles to the 4 wheel drive trailhead, be prepared for some rough driving.
Not only is camping in South Colony Lakes Basin allowed, it is a fantastic experience with unforgettable views. Still, it is best to go during the week to avoid the crowds, at least during the summer months. Always be sure to obey signs and avoid camping to near the lakes. Remember, LEAVE NO TRACE!
South Colony Lakes Trailhead
EDIT (Oct. 2006): I am not clear on all the details, but the road to South Colony Lakes has apparently been improved for the first 2.5 miles or so. If anyone has any further information on this please let me know.