Peak(s):  La Plata Peak  -  14,344 feet
Date Posted:  08/02/2022
Date Climbed:   08/01/2022
Author:  V1per41
 Backpacking La Plata Peak with 7 year old son   

My 7 year old son has been begging to go backpacking and attempt another 14er all summer and we finally got our opportunity to make it work. This would be his 2nd 14er, and first one attempted using my preferred backpacking method.

Hiking trail up to the gulch

We arrived at the trailhead about 2:30pm on Sunday and found easy parking. The plan was to hike up to La Plata gulch and camp there for the night before attempting the summit on Monday. It took us about 1:45 to hike the 2 miles up to the gulch. All of the good camp spots will be on the opposite side of the stream, there isn't a very obvious crossing point from the main trail, but there are makeshift bridges to be found. I'd say there are maybe 6+ good spots to setup camp, all of which were unoccupied when we arrived. We passed one other person backpacking in on the way up, but never saw where they ended up setting up.

Makeshift bridge to get to/from camp sites

We found a good spot in the trees, setup camp, made dinner and got ready for the next day.

Home for the night

We had a nice warm breakfast and hit the trail at 7:15am on Monday, so basically the equivalent of leaving the trailhead at 5:30. My son was super determined and refused to turn around until he got to the summit. The 2.7miles from camp took us about 3:30. While he's a strong hiker for his age, he's probably a little below average by adult standards and I would expect an average hiker to complete this in a little less than 3 hours. At the summit we got to hang out with some of the locals before leaving back to camp.

The trail is a bit hard to track at times, so take your time and try to find the correct route where you can. There were times where the trail was super obvious with cairns every 5 feet, and others where the trail seemed to split in two with no cairns to be found. I would definitely suggest downloading a map on your phone before heading out to keep yourself on target when in any doubt as there is moderate erosion in several areas from people not using/being able to find the designated trail.

A local
Summit pano

Both of us were able to move pretty quickly on the downhill section making it from summit to trailhead in about 3:15 not including camp takedown and pack up.

Round trip total time was 8:35. Best guess would be an average adult could probably do it in 7:30-8:00?

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
08/03/2022 12:36
You are Da man for taking your son on an unforgettable experience.

Love to see it!
08/04/2022 11:37
I am so impressed to see another youngster out enjoying the peaks, I didn't do my first 14er until I was 8, but quickly fell in love and finished them at 14 years old. Time in the mountains with my family is something that I am very grateful for, and your son is incredibly lucky to have such great parents! La Plata is a great one, just did it again this summer to take my cousins on their first 14er. Have fun out there with your son!

Also, I don't know where his/your comfort levels are, but I know I did Uncompahgre (Class 2) when I was 9 and Blanca (Class 2+) when I was 11 and they were my favorite memories from the first 11 years of my life... definitely would recommend them as family outings if you are willing to drive a little further.

08/06/2022 13:29
Congrats. Hope to be out there with my own little one soon!

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