Kit Carson Peak and Challenger Point

Kit Carson Peak and Challenger Point, Crestone: Address, Phone Number, Kit Carson Peak and Challenger Point Reviews: 5/5

Kit Carson Peak and Challenger Point

Kit Carson Peak and Challenger Point
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6 reviews
Very good

Cincinnati, OH90 contributions
Challenger is right!
Jul. 2020
Did Challenger point on July 23rd. It was a beast of a hike. We backpacked into the willow lake area - which is no joke either with almost 3,000 feet of elevation gain from the trailhead. And getting to the trailhead is pretty tame, but i wouldn't try it with a Prius.

It took us almost 4 hours from the lake to the top of Challenger. We had planned on doing Kit Carson, but it's a 3-ish hour time commitment and the clouds were building, so we left it for another day.

If we are going for both, i recommend you start the hike by 4:00 am to be safe. And camp by the lake. Otherwise, it is a brutally long day.
Written July 26, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Moira F
Buena Vista, CO22 contributions
Travel Into the Wild
Oct. 2017
Good, unpaved access to spectacular hiking trails and mountain lakes. Beautiful in every season. Dusty but passable dirt road.
Written December 6, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Eric R
Frisco, CO359 contributions
Willow Creek Lake and Challenger Point
Aug. 2017 • Couples
Quite the hike to Challenger Point from the traklhead...14 hours roundtrip and we have done many 14ers. Willow Creek Lake is beautiful...consider camping out there and then hike the next day. Then you can even include Kit Carson. Willow Lake is worth a hike on its own...but even that is difficult. Bring insect repellent...lots of Mosquitos. We did hike on 2 August!
Written August 3, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Christian U
Liberty, MO13 contributions
Breathtaking scenery!
Jul. 2016
Excellent hike up to the base of Willow Lake (5 miles from the trail head), with awesome views. For slightly more experienced hikers, hike up to Carson Peak & Challenger Point (2 of the 70-some-odd 14k peaks in the US). Take your time and take in the views, take a breather on the top of Willow Lake's water fall and look all the way down to the valley basin. Wildlife-o-plenty! Mountain goats, deer, and many more. Some awesome people hiked up a canoe to the lake for public use... it was so much fun! Although we didn't, there were people fishing in the lake and on the falls. The mountain and rock formations were perfect for photography, so bring your camera with plenty of memory. Enjoy the warm sun at the base and have a snowball fight halfway up the peak! I hope to visit again to summit both peaks (which you can easily go up, summit both peaks, and back down in one day, taking your time). This visit was for 4 days. I love the outdoors and this location definitely earned 5 stars from me.
Written February 13, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Andrew F
Charleston, SC129 contributions
Challenge yourself with Challenger
Aug. 2016 • Friends
Challenger Peak is aptly named. In the best of conditions it offers a tough climb up to the peak above 14,000 feet. The 5 mile hike from the parking lot above Crestone CO is no walk in the park either. The willow Creek trail that leads up to Willow Lake is spectacular. Willow Lake is a classic mountain Lake complete with a community canoe, however, beware of the icy waters.
Written August 25, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Lincoln, NE15 contributions
Waterfalls, Big Horn Sheep, and Wild Raspberries
Aug. 2011 • Friends
I revisited Willow Lake and falls this August during a climb of Challenger Point and Kit Carson peak, two of Colorado's 54 14,000-foot peaks. Challenger was named in 1987 to honor the memory of the seven astronauts who died in the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger on January 28, 1986. A plaque on the summit commemorates them and their courage.
The 14-mile round trip hike up the two peaks involves over 6,000 feet of elevation gain and some class three hiking, but nothing a strong hiker couldn't handle. The trail is well marked with cairns and several guidebooks offer clear directions for the route.
The hike stands out for several scenic and historic features. First, you pass many waterfalls as you near Willow Lake. Willow Lake itself, 4 miles from the trailhead on a good trail, glows like a sapphire under the bright alpine sun. On the east end of the lake another impressive waterfall plummets 150 feet through gray and rose-colored cliffs.
Most times I've visited Willow Lake we encounter a herd of big horn sheep - always a delightful occurrence. Many parties choose to camp near the lake to break up the long hike (you must camp at least 300 feet from the lake itself).
As the trail circles to the north of Willow Lake it rises with the terrain until you reach the top of the cliffs from which the falls descend. You can actually stand at the head of the falls, watching them tumble to the eastern edge of the lake. While you're there, take time to notice the colorful Crestone conglomerate, the distinctive quilt-like rock formation famous in the Sangre de Cristo range.
The trail above the falls winds up a steepening slope till you reach Challenger Point's summit ridge. From the summit (14,081 ft.) (note the plaque honoring the space shuttle astronauts) Kit Carson's summit stands just 400 yards away, the pinnacle of sheer cliffs that rise over 1000 feet. It would only be accessible to technical climbers if not for a fortuitous and dramatic breach in Kit Carson's nearly vertical west face. You see it as a thin line that rises to the edge of the cliff.
After a 300 foot descent off Challenger Point the ridge deposits you right at the base of that line. Close up you now see it as 5 to 10-foot wide grassy ledge that rises gently to the corner of the stone wall. Affectionately known as "Kit Carson Avenue," this ledge makes the climb of Kit Carson enjoyable by anyone with the stamina to hike at 14,000 feet, and allows stunning views up and down the rock faces you traverse.
Hike up the "avenue" to the end of the cliff. Here the ledge turns the corner and descends across Kit Carson's southeast face. At the corner you stand on top of the famous "Prow," the razor-thin ridge that descends south from Kit Carson like the jagged fin of a fish. Take a moment to survey its breath-taking lines before you turn left for the more pedestrian ascent.
At the bottom of Kit Carson Avenue's journey across the SE face a class three couloir leads you up to the summit.
The stunning views from Kit Carson's summit (14,165 ft.) make the trek well worth it. Nearby Crestone Needle and Crestone Peak rise dramatically. Their reddish rock and sheer cliffs inspire awe and respect. In the distance you can see the golden waves of the Great Sand Dunes National Park 12 miles away. Thirty miles away the Blanca Peak massive rises above the San Luis valley.
The hike down leads you back along "Kit Carson Avenue," over Challenger Point, down the the head of Willow Lake Falls, around the lake and back to the trailhead. Along the way you will see many marmots and pikas, denizens of the rocky alpine wonderland. The wildflowers grow prolifically all along the way.
As a special treat on my last trip, in August 2011, at a stream crossing below Willow Lake we found an abundance of ripe raspberries on both sides of the stream. Both on the ascent and the descent we couldn't resist a 10-minute stop to enjoy nature's sweet generosity!
The 13-mile round trip hike is strenuous. For that reason you might consider camping at Willow Lake - a special treat in its own right.
Written September 22, 2011
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.
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