Length: 9 miles round-trip
Difficulty: Most difficult
Why we love it: The remote location and unusually colorful rocks give this fourteener an especially adventurous feeling
When to go: Mid-summer through early autumn, before the flakes begin to fly. It’s important to get an early-morning start to avoid thunderstorms and allow plenty of time to get down the mountain.
Pre-hike buzz: Due to the location, you’ll need to brew your own cowboy coffee.
Restrooms: None available
Dogs: No restrictions
The easiest route up 14,034-foot Redcloud Peak, a relatively moderate fourteener near the town of Lake City, follows the northeast ridge from the Silver Creek/Grizzly Gulch trailhead on the peak’s western side. From the parking area at 10,400 feet, follow the Silver Creek Trail northeast for 1.5 miles, paralleling Silver Creek. At about 12,000 feet, the terrain begins to open up into a large basin. Continue to follow the trail, which bends to the southeast and enters the center of the basin at about 12,200 feet.
Follow the trail south across this basin, then up the slope on the mountain’s northeast side. After winding up the slope, the trail reaches the saddle between Redcloud and a smaller peak to the east at about 13,000 feet. From this saddle, ascend Redcloud’s northeast ridge to a false summit before the final segment comes into sight just a couple hundred vertical feet below the top.
Follow this path to the summit, where you’ll enjoy sensational views to the south towards 14,001-foot Sunshine Peak, as well as Handies, Uncompaghre, and Wetterhorn peaks, all of which are also fourteeners. After enjoying the panorama and a well-deserved break on the summit, carefully retrace your steps back to your car.
Getting there: From Denver, Lake City is about a five-hour drive via 285 South and U.S. 50 West. Once west of Gunnison, veer left onto Road 149. Follow this road south through Lake City, then turn right onto Route 30 toward Lake San Cristobal and Cinnamon Pass. Reset your odometer here. Stay right at mile 11.8. At 12.5 miles, the road becomes rougher, but in good conditions is usually passable by 2WD vehicles with good clearance. From mile 13 to 14.5, the road becomes a very narrow shelf road, so hopefully no one is coming the other direction! Park at the Silver Creek trailhead at mile 16.
Logistics: Low-impact camping is allowed at the trailhead. For safety considerations and recent information on trail conditions, visit 14ers.com.