13295 & Lake Fork Peak – 13,322

RT Length:  13.27 miles

Elevation Gain:  4196’

I drove to the La Plata Gulch Trailhead, then took 391 to 382 and parked just before the bridge. 

I gathered my gear and was on the trail at 4:40am.  The trail began by crossing the bridge, and then following 382.  This was a 4WD road that’s closed to vehicles because of the bridge.

Go left here.  It’s not a well-marked junction, and it’s not on a map, but it’s the way road 382 goes.  The sign on the right says “Trail”.

I followed 382 until it ended

And then picked up trail 1465.  This is actually a pretty decent trail for about half a mile, and then it gets lost in the willows.  No worries though, route finding is easy on this hike.  Just keep following the gulch, heading south.

After hiking for 2.7 miles I came to an avalanche runout.  This is where I would descend later in the day

I continued heading south.  There are game trails here to pick up through the willows if you look hard enough.  As far as willows go, these weren’t too bad.  As the sun rose, I could see my intended route to the ridge.  There are several options here, as the slope is gradual on both sides.  There is a grassy area that goes all the way to the ridge, which looked better to me than ascending via scree.  This is the route I tool.

Here are some step by step pictures.  As I ascended, towards the top, there were game trails that led me to the ridge.

Once on the ridge, I followed it southeast to the summit.  This ridge was class 2, with some narrow spots that may feel class 3 to some.  I wore my helmet, but it was all intuitive. 

I summited PT 13295 at 7:35am

PT. 13295:

My second peak of the day was to the northeast, Lake Fork Peak

To get there, I re-traced my steps back down the ridge, and then followed the ridge to the summit of Lake Fork Peak. Also, now is a good time to get a visual of the decent route from Lake Fork Peak via the avalanche runout.  This is the overall route:

I made my way down to the 13295/Lake Fork Peak Saddle

Here you can see the route I took up to the ridge from the basin. If you’re just doing PT 13295, this is an easy decent route as well. This is also a good view of the avy area you could descend from if you’re summiting Lake Fork Peak.

Now, on to the summit of Lake Fork Peak.  This was a class 2 ridge walk the entire way, with some loose boulders thrown in for fun on some of the steeper parts.  All along this ridge, I could hear, but not see, elk.

I summited Lake Fork Peak at 9:45am

Lake Fork Peak:

Here’s looking back at PT 13295

I looked down below, and could finally see the elk.  They were enjoying an afternoon swim in the alpine pond below.  There are more elk than you can see here, as they’re in the marshy areas as well. 

Elk:

I kept a watch on the elk as I continued hiking.  Eventually they got tired of the water and sat down in the willows to rest.  I continued on my hike, making this a loop.  I headed northeast and continued following the ridge. This was all class 2.  I went up and down several bumps that weren’t ranked summits

Here’s looking back at Lake Fork Peak

When I was directly above the avalanche area, I descended back down to the trail

Then followed the trail, and the road, back to my truck

I made it back to my truck at 12:40pm, making this a 13.27 mile hike with 4196’ of elevation gain in 8 hours.

On to the next trailhead!

Author: Laura M Clark

Mom, Solo Colorado 14er Finisher, Outdoor Enthusiast, Traveler, and Girl Scout Leader with an MBA in International Business and Marketing. I value adventure, growth, courage, wisdom, integrity, accountability, and family. I enjoy yoga, wine, whiskey, traveling, reading, and the outdoors. I strive to be the person who inspires and motivates myself and others to succeed.

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