Spread Eagle Peak

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Summit of Spread Eagle Peak looking towards “Peak of the Clouds” (right) and Rito Alto, October 7th.

With one of the nicest high pressure systems of the summer hanging over Colorado, Brian and I decided to take a day off work and head south for a leisure hike up a duo of peaks that had eluded us earlier in the year.

Spread Eagle Peak (13,423 ft) sits in the middle of the range just north of Hermit Pass and bicentennial Rito Alto Peak. It’s immediate neighbor to the southwest, UN 13,524 (aka Peak of the Clouds), combines nicely with a climb of Spread Eagle via a short, mellow ridge. We decided to go for both, and make a loop out of the day using Gibson Creek as our ascent route and Swift Creek as our descent. It worked out well and made for a fun day out there.


Breaking treeline after the approach up Gibson Creek.

We camped at Gibson Creek Trailhead the night prior and instead of enduring the ravaging winds of May, experienced a nice (albeit cold) night in Brian’s new 112 pound, 47 person Eureka tent. With somewhere in the vicinity of 300 square feet of floor space, the three of us (Jax being our third) had plenty of room to spread out.


Sangre flora and snow dusted north faces.

In the morning we got going just before sunrise up the Gibson Creek trail. This trail meanders about and is easy to lose (which we did for awhile), but ultimately winds west up through the valley to the northern foot of Spread Eagle’s east ridge.


I think most of us were wishing for some Indian Summer, and that wish appears to have been granted.

We broke treeline to a warm, windless, sunny day. Probably the single best day I’ve hiked on all year to be honest. Lots of reds, browns, and yellows painted the landscape. As the years go by I’ve come to appreciate fall in the Rockies more and more. There’s a beauty about it that isn’t common to the other seasons.


Finishing off the last couple feet of Spread Eagle Peak’s long east ridge.

From the summit we picked our way down the ridge line towards Peak of the Clouds, a particularly aesthetic peak in my opinion. The easy ridge afforded us ample glances over at Rito Alto and Hermit Peaks, which had a nice dusting of white on them to compliment the golden brown hue.


Peak of the Clouds dead ahead. After topping out we returned to this spot and descended the talus slope on the right down into Lakes of the Clouds Basin.


Spread Eagle in the rearview.

We hung out for awhile on 13,524’s summit and soaked in the views, which never seem to get old in the Sangres. Rito Alto looked close and I told Brian to run over and get it if he wanted to. He resisted the urge, which was probably for the best as Rito Alto is a breeze from Hermit Pass (provided you don’t have to enter concussion protocol after driving up the road).

Rito Alto

Ridge over to Rito Alto Peak. A recently started fire can be seen in the distance.


Views northwest of Mt. Owen and neighbors.

Off the saddle to the north we worked our way down the talus and eventually came upon the Lakes of the Clouds trio. Once on the trail we were able to cruise out of Swift Creek on down to the Rainbow Trail.

Lakes of the Clouds. We caught the trail on the western shore of the easternmost lake.

Lakes of the Clouds.


At higher elevations most of the trees had already lost their leaves…


…but lower elevation groves still had some nice colors to display.

A short jaunt south on the Rainbow Trail had us back to Gibson Creek and the end of our hike. We were happy to find that Brian’s tent had not blown 300 yards down the road and landed in a Lutheran Camp this time around.


Post-climb festivities at Gibson Creek. Good work snagging a new camping grill through the wedding registry there Brian.


A parting shot.

With nothing but clear days and 70 degree temps continuing into October as far out as the forecast will go, I wonder if another day out like this one might be in store. Any ideas anyone?

Map Code

A map of the loop. Stats on the day were 9.5 miles and 5,000 ft.

4 thoughts on “Spread Eagle Peak

  1. Floyd

    Nice little jaunt there. I didn’t realize that Brian has a BMFT of his own now. The Sangres definitely have a unique appeal to them and they keep you off I-70 if nothing else. Great post Ben, enjoyable read.

  2. tj

    So they have a peak called 13,524.? I want to blow up a picture of the yellow trees and put on my wall. Your pictures are amazing – Fall is incredible in Colorado, is it not?
    Lucky you

    1. Ben Post author

      Yeah, it’s one of those unnamed 13ers. Sounds good and yes I’ve been liking fall a lot around here. Love you Faja


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