Peak(s):  Santa Fe Peak  -  13,180 feet
Date Posted:  05/20/2021
Modified:  06/01/2021
Date Climbed:   05/20/2021
Author:  WildWanderer
 From 4WD road 264   

Santa Fe Peak – 13,180


RT Length: 9.36 miles

Elevation Gain: 2894’

I needed a quick hike today before picking my mom up from the airport, and since this one is kind of close to I70 and the weather was nice I decided to go for it. I kind of wanted to do this as a loop with a few other 13ers in the area, but any excuse to get out and get another hike in the same area is good enough for me (I’ll be back).

I’ve heard a lot about the town of Montezuma and its lack of parking. Yes, there is a lack of parking. So, my advice is to do this hike on a weekday, or arrive early (or both) to secure a legal parking spot. Please respect private property owners’ rights.

When driving through Montezuma, and turning down 3rd street, on your right you’ll see this area, that looks inviting to park. DON’T PARK HERE! It’s private property. There are signs (covered in snow no doubt most of the time) asking you not to park in this area. I’ve circled one in red. Note, when you drive in, the sign is behind you, so it’s difficult to see. When I left the owner of the property was watching me from his window. It’s probably a game to him. So, don’t park here.


Instead, continue about 10 yards pasts this sign for 4WD road 264. (Also note, the black and white sign says ‘highway legal’ vehicles only.


Here you will find a small pull-off area where you can park. Only about 3-4 vehicles can park here if you all pull in nicely, so if you’re first, set the example. This is Public Land. From here on out, it goes back and forth between public and private land, and it can get confusing. The road also narrows and there are a lot of downed trees in the area, so it’s not really worth it to try to drive further. Especially in winter conditions (like today).


Just an FYI: There’s a house/structure around 10,800’. They plow the road themselves, but it’s still ‘iffy’ to drive to that point, and they currently have an unfriendly dog. I wouldn’t drive past the staging area, even if you feel you can.


After some careful maneuvering (my 4WD is still out and there were some deep ruts) I backed into a spot, gathered my gear, and was on my way at 5am. It was around 37 degrees outside, and the snow hadn’t consolidated overnight, so almost immediately I started post holing.


I’m stubborn, so it took me 1.5 miles to put on my snowshoes. I should have put them on right away. I followed 4WD road 264 for 3.7 miles to the saddle of Morgan Peak and Santa Fe Peak







Once at the saddle there was still a road, but it was difficult to discern with the snow, so I just headed southeast to the ridge


Here are some step by step pictures



Once on the ridge I could see Santa Fe Peak. I’d need to go right and follow the ridge southwest to reach the summit. The wind picked up here, and all that postholing I did earlier came back to haunt me: the snow I’d obtained in my socks from postholing had melted and now was freezing back into ice again: my socks and toes as a direct result were now frozen.


The ridge was easy to follow, and windblown.


There was one cornice, but it was easily avoidable, and made for a kind of ‘false summit’ (pic on the way back).



I summited Santa Fe Peak at 7:30am


Santa Fe Peak:

I didn’t see a summit register, so I left one. Here’s a look back on the other 13ers in the area. If it wasn’t so windy… if my socks and toes weren’t solid ice, and if I didn’t have to pick up my mom from the airport I’d be making this a loop, as the conditions looked perfect (sigh).


I turned and retraced my steps back over the cornice, along the ridge, to the saddle



It was interesting: I could see tire tracks, but due to downed trees on the road in, it’s probably been a while since vehicles have been up here





From the saddle I followed the 4WD road back to the trailhead, glad I’d decided to put my snowshoes on, as I came across my morning post-holing adventures




When I finally took the snowshoes off, I accidentally took a wrong turn, and ended up at the old Morgan Mine. I took a quick picture and re-traced my steps (probably private property so I didn’t investigate further than a quick photo).


When I made it to a bend in the road around 10,800’ I could see the residence/office (etc.) and immediately a dog rushed out and started barking at me. This is right where the Harold Roberts Tunnel is (short information on what that is and why it’s cool here).

I’d heard about this dog, and was a little bit apprehensive. However, I held my trekking pole in my right hand, and my Ruger in my left hand inside my coat pocket. I’d hate to actually hurt an animal, but if it attacked, I was ready. Luckily, this dog was all bark and no bite: It barked viciously, but never left his/her side of the road. I kept walking like I was supposed to be there, and nothing came of the encounter.


I continued following the road back to my truck.



I made it back to my truck at 9:30am, making this a 9.36 mile hike with 2894’ of elevation gain in 4.5 hours.


As I drove out, I stopped to get pictures of the trailhead, parking/no parking areas, etc. for a trip report. The owner of the house nearest the parking area stood in his window and watched me the entire time with a scowl on his face.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37

Comments or Questions
Altitude High
Great report
05/20/2021 19:55
Parking spots and traps, scowling owners, vicious wannabe bad-boy dogs, a chick with a Ruger, and fantastic photos. Did I mention that you're my favorite TR writer?

Favorite TR Writer
05/21/2021 07:15
My favorite WW TR was the one eyed cougar that was posted around Halloween 2020. You need to write a book WW.

You should form a fan club...
05/24/2021 08:37
I'd join! Your perseverance in getting out & up is impressive. Hey, just curious, you mentioned you have a new 4wd truck on order. With all you do getting out I'm curious which truck you picked and why. Anyway, I enjoy your reports incl this one.


Thanks guys!
05/24/2021 08:56
I don‘t think I‘ll be writing a book anytime soon, as I‘d rather be out in the mountains than writing trip reports over again. I‘ll be content having awesome campfire stories to tell my grandchildren one day

I have a Tacoma on order, just a basic SR5 4WD. I‘ve always been a truck person (except for a small stint when I had three kids in car seats and needed a minivan). My past 2 trucks have been Tundras, and I loved them, even walked away from accidents I shouldn‘t have because of them, but now that I‘m am empty nester it‘s bigger than I need. My ex was a car salesman and sold just about everything (from motorcycles and snowmobiles and every type of car manufacturer to RVs: car salesmen aren‘t known for staying at one place very long) and Toyotas are just built better/have better safety features. They‘d frequently have people bring old ones in with over 500,000 miles on them they just wanted tuned up and didn‘t want to sell because they still ran fine. Mine has about 300,000 miles on it, and this basic stock model has done everything I‘ve ever asked it to do in the mountains. I considered fixing it, but think it‘s time to get something smaller to make passing vehicles on back roads easier.

I‘ll be putting a topper on the Tacoma and moving my sleeping/cooking set-up from the Tundra into it.

Good pick
05/24/2021 09:55
I didn't notice that your current truck is a Toyota. I'm a big fan of Toyotas (mine is a 2013 4Runner), just tough reliable vehicles. Btw, if you plan to upgrade the skid plates etc. I'm also a big fan of Budbuilt accessories. No affiliation on my part, I just like BB's smooth-as-a-baby's-bottom approach to skid plates. No holes or ridges to get hung up on rocks/vegetation, etc. Good luck with your new truck!


That loop for next time
05/24/2021 14:58
You should be able to easily do a loop from that starting point or you could just park at the Peru Gulch TH and avoid all the friendly folks of Montezuma! Those 13ers to the south, Geneva, Landslide along with 12er Red Cone are nice strolls along the ridgeline and you can take the Webster Pass Road back to Montezuma. Hey, you might even catch a ride at the pass from a jeeper, they love to congregate up there and of course you don't have to mention it in that trip report! Personally I think all the dogs in Montezuma are crazy. I was ready to beat one on mainstreet last fall, but that's another story.

Altitude High
Not surprised
05/24/2021 19:34
you're sticking with Toyota. They are wonderfully engineered and reliable. Toyota is consistently in first or second place in the reliability rating, swapping places with Lexus -- also made by Toyota.

I remember years ago when the Japanese car makers were under pressure from American politicians to make changes that would make American cars more competitive. The elderly then-head of Toyota, named Toyoda, was testifying and said: "We cannot lower the quality of our cars." I still smile when I remember that. That is true class. Quality is everything. In what you make, and in everything you do in life.

I thought you'd probably get another Tundra, or perhaps a 4runner. But 4runners are more expensive, you can't sleep in them. At least not me, and I'm only a few inches taller than you. I'm sure you'll love your Tacoma.

Probably a PITA
05/30/2021 12:04
But I wonder if you'd consider doing a split pic shot of the picture with and without the squiggles that remind me of graffiti. Sorry.
Keep on trekking on!

Squiggly Lines
06/01/2021 12:30
In general or just for this report? If I combine two pictures together I've found the quality goes down, and I only get a total of 50 pictures total this site allows to upload per report. I've added a few pictures to the end of this report without the lines

08/08/2021 09:20
BTW, That dog is incredibly friendly. I'm not sure how you interpreted his barking as "vicious". That corner that you were on is the owners property and there is no easement. Luckily, they allow people to use the road as they could easily not. Just can't believe you would feel the need to have your hand on your gun. To even consider using a firearm on a dog that is just barking, on the owners property, is crazy. Maybe you are not used to dog behavior in general. Montezuma's dogs are what make the town great. Also, where you parked was carved out specifically for that residence. Technically they can kick you out of there too. Property lines on assessors website and onX etc are not accurate in a lot of places in Montezuma

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