The Three Apostles from the south
West Apostle completes the group of the Three Apostles
peaks in the Sawatch Range in central Colorado. The other two are Ice Mountain
and North Apostle
. West Apostle is the lowest of the Three, and probably the easiest to climb. If you are looking for a beautiful, streamside hike up to a unique lake, interesting ridge combinations, and panoramic views from atop the Continental Divide, this may be your mountain. It is less of a mountaineering experience than neighboring Ice Mountain, but you might actually want to climb West Apostle on your way to
Ice Mountain. West Apostle not only offers awesome scenery above timberline, but also below. The forest trail to Lake Ann was soft, and beautiful beyond my expectations. For as little traffic as it apparently receives, the trail has received a lot of recent maintenance by someone who cares. The mountain itself features some sharp ridges and vertical faces. All these attributtes made it one of my most enjoyable hikes/climbs among the Sawatch mountain range. You will find little or no traffic on the trail and the mountain itself. Even on a busy summer weekend you might imagine that the lake and the mountain belong just to you. West Apostle rests in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness Area
The Three Apostles from the north
Getting ThereSouth Winfield Trailhead
. From Leadville, drive 19 miles south on U.S. Highway 24 to Chaffee County Road 390. If you are coming from the south, this junction is 15 miles north of Buena Vista. Follow County Road 390 about 12 miles west to the old Winfield town site. Once you get past the ranches, the road is washboarded, but still okay for passenger cars. Winfield is a restored ghost town which appears now to have a few summer residents. Turn south (left) and drive a quarter mile to the passenger car parking area at 10,240'.
4WD vehicles may proceed 2.0 miles further south, to the Wilderness boundary at 10,550'. This road is passable part of the way, when dry, even with a high clearance, 2WD vehicle. In August 2005, however, there was a deep washout, maybe two-thirds the way up the road, which would require 4WD to navigate. The entire area is popular in the summer, since it also serves several fourteener trailheads, campgrounds, and fishing locations. Expect traffic!
West Apostle is in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness Area
. As a wilderness area, no motorized vehicles are allows on the trails, group sizes are limited, and other restrictions apply. However, no permits or fees are required to hike or climb.
This area is part of the San Isabel National Forest. The Forest Ranger may be contacted at:
Leadville Ranger District
2015 North Poplar
Leadville, CO 80461
Phone (719) 486-0749
Mountain Conditions & When To Climb
Summertime is the most favorable for climbing. In all other seasons, snow is likely to make your climb much more difficult. Afternoon thunderstorms are your biggest weather concern during the summer months in the Colorado Rockies. Make a habit of checking weather conditions before you leave, and err on the side of caution once you get there. Weather conditions can change quickly.
Click here for the National Weather Service forecast
for the Continental Divide near the Three Apostles.
There are at least two developed campgrounds along Chaffee County Road 390. While many national forest campgrounds are on a first-come basis, you can use the National Recreation Reservation Service
to make reservations for some. Also, there are many informal campsites along the road leading to the trailhead, and along the trail for several miles. For the high altitude back packing enthusiast, there is a lovely campsite just above Lake Ann, well worth the easy, 4 mile hike. "No camping" signs are posted at the Winfield town site. Take some time when you reach your destination to find the most appropriate site. Choose a site that is at least 100 ft. from lakes, streams, and any water source. To minimize impact, use an existing site.
Views from West Apostle