Peak(s):  Huron Peak  -  14,003 feet
Browns Pk  -  13,523 feet
PT 13,462  -  13,462 feet
Date Posted:  07/05/2018
Date Climbed:   07/02/2018
Author:  psa954hiker
 Huron Peak loop via Lulu Gulch   

This is an amazingly enjoyable route for those looking for beautiful vistas, no crowds, and don’t mind finding your own path between the end of the Lulu Gulch road and the Huron standard trail. Oh, and you will have to be OK with a little exposure on the switchbacks. We took our time and had one of our best 14er (and 13er) experiences ever. For reference, this was my 33rd 14er summit, and I had done Huron by the standard route previously.

Summary:

  • 4183 ft total elevation gain
  • 11.1 miles round trip
  • 8 hours
  • 3 peaks
  • 1 amazing day

The trip:

We parked our car at the upper 2WD trailhead about 0.4 mi from Winfield and began hiking at 6:05am. The day promised to be (and was) completely clear into the evening, which is the only reason we started that late; normally we’re on the trail by 5am to avoid afternoon thunderstorms. Soon we reached the road junction where you go left up the Lulu Gulch road.

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Lulu Gulch road splits off to left

After a steady but scenic climb up the road, we came into a clearing near treeline. In front of you stretches the ridge you will ascend, which contains one ranked and two unranked 13ers. Huron is not yet in sight.

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Switchbacks up the side of Middle Mountain. Ridge to right is the route toward UN 13462, Browns Peak and Huron.

Just above treeline the road takes a sharp left. Going left continues up the road which switchbacks to the ridge north of Middle Mountain. Going right takes you off trail where you have to do some route finding and go up a tundra/talus slope, and across a basin to the north of Browns Peak and south of UN 13462. We decided that the switchback route looked more interesting, as it gave us the opportunity to summit a ranked 13er on the way, plus give us more time at elevation with fantastic views. We’re glad we did, though it adds about 1.5 miles to your trip compared to the hike up the tundra slope.

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Switchbacks up Middle Mountain, taken from Browns Peak summit. Note decision point where road turns left.


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The terrain to cover if you go right instead of take the switchbacks. Browns Peak on right.

The switchbacks have a couple of sketchy sections where the road has been completely covered with rockslides and there is only a narrow use path through the rubble. By going slowly and watching our steps we found these sections to be not too unnerving. Poles would help, plus the knowledge that you wouldn’t slide far despite how steep it looks in the pictures.

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Switchbacks. There was a road here once. Now a path through loose rock and dirt.
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UN 13462 in left background, Browns Peak on right.
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Nearing the top of the switchbacks.

Now, when you get to the ridge, the rest is constantly rewarding. From this point on you have glorious views of the high altitude world, and the option of summitting Middle Mountain, UN 13462 and Browns Peak on the way to Huron. We did all but Middle Mountain, which we passed on our left. Though there is no official trail until you join up with Huron, it is very obvious where to go, and you’ll find use trails most of the way. We also stuck to the ridge as much as possible because it had the more stable rock to walk on, but if you don’t like the exposure on your left (east), you can drop down anywhere to the right. Sometimes you have to do that anyway.

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Ridge route to Middle Mountain (left), UN 13462 (center), Browns Peak (right), then Huron (not in view yet).
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Approaching UN 13462. Huron in the background.
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Summit of UN 13462, which has a register to sign.

You don’t actually need to summit Browns Peak on the way to Huron, but it’s so close to the route that it seems a shame not to indulge in another summit. It even had a register tube, though it was broken and the paper was gone.

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Ridge to Browns Peak (right) and then Huron Peak (left).
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Definitely notice the wildflowers!
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Browns Peak summit.

The traverse over to Huron could prove a challenge if you aren’t used to finding your way over rocks without a trail. But we found the rocks to be pretty stable and much preferable to the narrow switchback dirt and loose rock. Along the way you see the standard Huron route, which was predictably full of hikers. [Note: only one other hiker used the same route we did to this point.]

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Finally, we connected to the Huron trail and joined the masses to the peak. I had forgotten how steep that last section was! But now you’re so close that you know you’ll get there, along with the encouragements of others. At the summit we reflected on all the blessings we’d experienced this day.

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We took the standard route back to the car, which was fun because unlike most summit climbs where you just want to cover the same ground as fast as possible, this was new terrain to enjoy. Makes me want to find loop hikes wherever possible to keep it interesting.

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So, to sum up, definitely consider this route if you have a good weather day ahead of you and can take your time to enjoy it all. You can certainly do this route quicker if you need to, (and take the tundra slope shortcut), but we spent about 45 minutes to an hour just sitting on peaks, mostly alone, enjoying the moment.

Timeline:

  • 6:05am Leave upper 2WD trailhead
  • 9:20am Summit UN 13462
  • 10:10am Summit Browns Peak
  • 11:15am Summit Huron Peak
  • 11:30am Leave Huron Summit
  • 2:05 pm Arrive at car

My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):




Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
rrk
that one other climber
07/07/2018 13:50
It was good meeting you and your daughter out there. This will be a nice memory for you two. Hope you made it back for that birthday party.

Yes, there was one iffy spot on the switchbacks coming out of Lulu Gulch--grainy underfoot, and few surface features over a steep slope. Was glad to have a trekking pole and some tread on my boots there.

My third time up Huron, by three different routes. Have to say this long ridge-walk was the most pleasurable. Maybe we should keep quiet about this. Shared the summit with about two dozen middle school kids from Buena Vista, so agoraphobia, or enochlophobia, might be the real threat with Huron. Great day, regardless.


psa954hiker
User
Thanks rrk
07/08/2018 19:00
It was good to meet you on the mountain! Sorry we didn't linger and talk more. I'd be interested in knowing the other routes you've taken up Huron and what you thought of them.



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