North Crestone Lake and Mount Adams
It’s pretty chaotic around Aspen these days, and since the typically quiet trails are teeming with summer visitors, we decided to head back to where we always find solitude, the Sangres. A quick look at our favorite map of the area pointed us in the direction of North Crestone Lake. It’s a couple of valleys north of the ever-popular Willow Lake and just south of some of our more recent romps around Rito Alto and Cotton Creek.
After filling the first half of summer with more than our share of trail runs and light-and-fast travel, we opted to backpack in for the night. A six mile hike took us to the lake 11,780 feet, just below the centennial peak, Mount Adams. Without a person in sight, we ditched the heavy packs and made a quick hike up to Fluted Peak, 13,554 ft. and a neighboring unnamed 13er, known only as UN13,419. From the summits we could see our goal to the north for the following day– a loop hike up Comanche Creek, over the summits of three ranked 13ers, and then back down the Venable Pass Trail to where we started, at a trail junction called Three Forks.
The route to the lake (green) and the Comanche/Venable Loop (red), click to enlarge.
The following morning, we packed up, and made our way back down the North Crestone Lake Trail, to the Three Forks junction. We hung our packs and food, and grabbed what we needed for the loop and started up. The trail took us up to Comanche Pass, and an easy hike put us on Comanche Peak, 13,277 ft. From there, we descended back to the pass and continued north, to Spring Mountain, 13,244 ft., and then Venable Peak, 13,334 ft. We descended game trails to the Venable Pass Trail, which then took us all the way back down to Three Forks.
Add this loop to your to-do list. It was ten miles start-to-finish, and took about 6 hours. The photos help somewhat with the details-
Atop Fluted Peak, after setting up camp at the lake below. Some of the Sangre 14ers are behind, to the south.
A close up of the Crestones, to the south. The Needle is on the left, and the peak, on the right.
Looking to the east from the Fluted Peak summit toward Horn Peak. The drainage with the four lakes is curiously named Dry Creek.
Comanche as seen from UN13244. Spring Peak is behind, slightly to the right, and Venable, with the flat ridge summit, beyond that to the left. Rito Alto is the big one out in the distance.
Happy hour at camp after descending from Fluted Peak. It’s an awesome spot.
Christy near the top of Comanche Peak, the following morning. The trail can be seen faintly climbing to the pass behind. At the pass, it turns north and cruises below Spring Mountain and Venable Peak. It then traverses the east side of Venable Peak to Venable Pass along what’s called “The Phantom Terrace.” From up close the sensational title seemed a bit overdone.
The tattered summit register atop Spring Mountain. The map didn’t have this peak named, it was only upon arriving here that we learned what it was called. Comanche is the grassy ramp behind me.
We startled some locals en route to Venable Peak.
Christy, at the start of the Phantom Terrace. Scary? Not so much. It also went a bit out of the way, so we just went off-trail up the ridge to the summit, and followed game trails down the other side to save a few miles.
Tagging the summit of Venable, literally.
And once we made it down to the trail, we did bust out a lite jog back down to Three Forks and our backpacks. It’s a cool loop that’s worth checking out.
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