Emerald/Iowa Combo
Peaks Included: Emerald PeakIowa Peak
 Class 2 
Trailhead:Missouri Gulch
Start:9,650 feet
Summit:13,904 feet
Total Gain:5,900 feet
RT Length:14.00 miles
Weather:NOAA Forecast
Conditions:35 reports
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From Leadville: Drive 20 miles south on U.S. 24 and turn right on the Chaffee County 390 road.
From Buena Vista: Drive 14.5 miles north on U.S. 24 and turn left on the Chaffee County 390 road.
On the 390 road, drive 7.5 miles to a sign for the Missouri Gulch trailhead. Turn left and drive down into the large parking area. There are restrooms here.


Start down the Missouri Gulch Trail, cross the bridge over Clear Creek and continue into the forest. Hike over 1/4 mile and climb a bunch of switchbacks through the steep forest. Leave the switchbacks at 10,400' and continue south along Missouri Gulch. At 10,800', turn left and locate a small, weak log bridge where the trail crosses the creek - 1. Duck through some bushes, turn right and hike south along the gulch for almost 1/2 mile to reach the remnants of an old shack. Walk a bit farther to exit the forest, near 11,300'. Continue into Missouri Gulch on the excellent trail. At 11,600', stay right at the Mt. Belford trail junction ( 2) and continue south ( 3) for another 1.5 miles to the Missouri Mountain trail junction, near 12,600' - 4. Stay left and walk another 3/4 mile to reach Elkhead Pass - 5, 6 and 7.

From the Pass, look southwest over Missouri Basin (yes, you transition from Missouri Gulch to Missouri Basin) to locate Emerald Peak and Iowa Peak - 8. Descend 200-300 feet toward the basin before leaving the trail to begin your traverse toward Emerald - 9 and 10. Continue to a large, flat area east of Iowa ( 11) and pass an unnamed lake to locate a ramp which provides easy access to Emerald's north slopes - 12 and 13. Ascend the ramp and turn right near 13,000' to see the remaining route up Emerald - 14 and 15. Follow the left side of the Emerald's north slopes ( 16, 17 and 18), traverse right a short distance to bypass a rocky section ( 19) and walk up the final pitch to reach the summit - 20 and 21.

To add Iowa Peak, retrace your route on Emerald's northeast ridge ( 22) but when you reach ~13,500', angle north toward the large, open Emerald-Iowa saddle - 23 and 24. Cross the saddle and continue 500' up Iowa's mellow south slopes to reach the summit - 25, 26, 27 and 28. For your descent, the best option is to return to the Iowa-Emerald saddle and the ramp, near 13,000'. If you're in need of a shorter descent, hike north from Iowa's summit until you're almost to the Iowa-Missouri saddle and drop east down a loose, Class 2 slope to return to the point where you traversed from Elkhead Pass. This option is shown as a dotted line on the topo map.


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#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

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