Matterhorn Peak - Southeast Slopes

Difficulty:  Class 3 
Upper Elevation: 13,590 feet
Trailhead Elevation: 10,800 feet
Elevation Gain:2,800 feet
Round-trip Length: 6.5
Trailhead: Matterhorn Creek
Author: Chicago Transplant
Route Added: 02/16/2010
Last Updated: 02/17/2010


From Lake City, turn west onto Second street. Drive 0.1 mile and turn left onto Henson Creek Road (Alpine Loop Scenic Byway) and begin measuring mileage from here. Near 5 miles, pass the Nellie Creek trailhead sign. Near 9 miles, turn right onto the North Henson Road which is more rough than the Henson Creek road but can still be driven by most good-clearance vehicles. Near 11 miles, there is another junction with a sign indicating the Matterhorn Creek trailhead is ahead. Park here if you don’t have a 4WD vehicle or turn right and continue 0.7 mile to the trailhead and parking area.


Matterhorn is Wetterhorn’s shorter neighbor to the east, and is a worthwhile addition while you are in the area as it is a "bicentennial", or one of Colorado’s Highest 200 peaks.

Begin at the same trailhead used for Wetterhorn (Matterhorn Creek) and hike up hill from the parking area to a gate. Continue on the trail for approximately 3/4 of a mile to a signed trail junction Photo #1, continue on the main trail (right) as it switchbacks up a hill and continues into the upper basin and treeline Photo #2. From here, Matterhorn will dominate the view in front of you, and the majority of the remaining route is visible Photo #3.

Continue past the turn-off for the Wetterhorn Peak Trail at approximately 12,000’ by staying on the main trail (right). You will follow the trail to a saddle between Matterhorn Peak and Broken Hill at approximately 12,460’ before the trail begins to descend towards Uncompahgre Peak. The rest of the route is "off trail" from this point, but easy to follow Photo #4.

Cross a flat area and a small stream and ascend Photo #5 the grass and flower covered lower southeast slopes of Matterhorn Peak Photo #6. The views here really begin to open up towards Uncompahgre and Wetterhorn Photo #7, and if you time your climb right, the flowers are just spectacular.

As you climb the terrain gradually becomes steeper Photo #8 and rockier, especially above 13,000’ Photo #9. Near 13,400’ the route turns to talus and the crux tower begins to really come into view Photo #9. Traverse a generally flat talus section of ridge directly towards the crux tower, this is a great place to take a short break and consider your options Photo #10.

The tower itself is much easier than it looks and involves some easy class 3 climbing without much exposure. The tower can be climbed directly on the ridge crest for additional climbing on more solid rock, or you can traverse talus below a steep rock rib and climb the face to the ridge crest just below the summit to minimize the class 3 and exposure Photo #10.

Reverse your route to descend Photo #5, Photo #2.


From the 2WD parking at the bottom of the Matterhorn Creek Road (10,300’), you will have a total round trip of 7.75 miles and 3,300’ of vertical.

The climbing here is easier than that on Wetterhorn and is a good warm-up if you are unsure about Wetterhorn’s class 3 crux.

Mid-July is a great time for this route as the flower are in full bloom and make for a really pleasant day!

The peak resides in the Uncompahgre Wilderness Area, please consult the Forest Service’s website or at for additional information regarding the regulations in the area.


Photo #1 Photo #2 Photo #3 Photo #4 Photo #5 Photo #6 Photo #7 Photo #8 Photo #9 Photo #10