From Westcliffe, continue south on CO 69 and turn west on Country Road (CR) 160 across from the Centex/Subway Gas Station. Drive 6 miles on CR 160 to reach a fork. Turn right on CR 164 and drive 1.5 miles to reach CR 172. Turn left on CR 172 and continue 0.3 mile to reach the Forest Service boundary (and likely winter closure). Continue another 0.2 mile to reach the trailhead.
Taken from the northeast, Photo #1 and Photo #2 show Spread Eagle’s east ridge and some of the route. From the trailhead (Photo #3), follow the trail west along fenced, private property to reach a trail junction - Photo #4. Do not turn left or right on the Rainbow trail - continue straight towards Gibson Creek. Hike another 0.3 mile, cross the creek near 9,400’ (Photo #5) and continue west - Photo #6. After 0.75 mile the trail curves left as you continue higher into Gibson Creek - Photo #7. To reach the east ridge, pick your turn-off by leaving the trail and climbing south up through the forest - Photo #8. You won’t find a trail leading up to the ridge so be prepared for some steep hiking in the trees. Hike south to reach the crest the east ridge - Photo #9.
Turn right and continue southwest up the forested ridge to reach tree line, near 11,800’ - Photo #10. The ridge narrows (Photo #11) as you approach 11,900’ and the views open up to the south and southwest - Photo #12. Turn right and follow the defined ridge west-northwest as the remaining route comes into view (Photo #13), near 12,000’. Continue to a saddle at 12,100’ (Photo #14) and terrain that’s a bit more difficult - Photo #15. Stay near the ridge crest and continue higher (Photo #16 and Photo #17) to reach a broad, flat area below a distinct point on the ridge - Photo #18. Sorry, it’s not the summit.
From 12,700’, hike 400’ to reach the top of the point and a view of the upper east ridge - Photo #19. The remaining ridge is rugged but not as bad as it first appears. Continue west along the ridge (Photo #20) and bypass a few rugged portions on the right to reach the final pitch - Photo #21. Climb up to the summit - Photo #22.
Depending on snow conditions, it may be safe to hike all the way to the end of Gibson Creek and continue west-southwest using a more directly line and hitting the east ridge near 12,400’ vs. lower and to the east. Be careful with this option because the gully from 10,400’ to 11,000’ can produce avalanches and the terrain on either side is fairly steep.