Capitol Peak & Pierre Lakes
Capitol Peak is regarded as one of the most difficult and deadliest peaks over 14,000 feet in Colorado – and one of the most spectacular. It rises to 14,130 feet from the Maroon Bells Wilderness Area of the Elk Mountains, and it offers some of the best alpine rock climbing in the range.
- Capitol Peak, Colorado, is 14,130 feet high in the Elk Mountains
- Many consider this Colorado's most difficult and dangerous 14,000-foot peak
- Excellent hiking and fishing in area
Though there is no easy way to Capitol's summit, those experienced enough to stand on the top of this peak are rewarded with some of the best views in Colorado. The hike to Pierre Lakes and to the base of Capitol Peak is also very beautiful and offers spectacular views.
Located in the heart of the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area in the Elk Range, Capitol Peak and its surroundings are accessible for hikers, climbers, mountaineers and backcountry skiers. Capitol rises to a height of 14,130 feet, making it one of the 30 tallest mountains in the state.
From Capitol Peak, Colorado, there are magnificent views of the Pierre Lakes Basin. For those carrying on to summit Capitol, Pierre Lakes is ideal for camping to get that good night's rest with an early start the next morning.
From Old Snowmass (Different from Snowmass Village) on Highway 82, take Snowmass Creek Road, turn right at Capitol Creek Road at 1.7 miles and stay left at 1.9 miles and left again at 3.2 miles. Stay right at 4.7 miles and 5.9 miles. Pass guard station and take rough, narrow road. Trailhead is at 9.5 miles.
Hiking and camping in summer and early fall, skiing in early spring and winter.
The massive 1,300-foot North Face offers several technical rock routes with the most popular being the Northwest Ridge, rated at 5.7. Even the easiest route on Capitol Peak is still a class 4 scramble with more than enough exposure to satisfy the adrenaline fix and requires a long approach.
The Pierre Lakes are home to very big trout, so it might be a good idea to bring that fishing rod with you, especially if you are planning an overnighter. Pierre Lakes Basin is six miles in with a gain of 3,000 feet.
Winter provides opportunities for experienced ski mountaineers to test themselves in some of Colorado's most challenging terrain.
Camping in the wilderness area is prohibited within 100 feet of any lake, stream, national forest system trail, or any "No Camping" or "Wilderness Restoration Site" sign or; within a quarter-mile of Copper Lake, Conundrum Hot Springs, Crater Lake, Geneva Lake, Capital Lake, and Thomas Lakes, except at designated campsites.
There are no fees to enter the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area of the White River National Forest, but one member of each party is required to register at the trailhead and carry a copy of that registration. See www.fs.fed.us/r2/whiteriver/recreation/wilderness/maroonbells/index.shtml for additional regulations.