A Better Route Up SOTA W0C/SP-089

SP-089 has a large rock face on the south/southwest side, so it is best to approach from the other side.

Back in 2014, Joyce/K0JJW and I did the first activation of W0C/SP-089 (also known by its elevation: 10525). See the trip report here.

As noted in that trip report, we never did find much of a trail so we had to do some serious offtrail bushwacking. Being on the summit was great but bushwacking up was not. Later Walt/W0CP found a much better route using the Davis Meadow Trail. We definitely wanted to try this route and get back on top of that summit.

This overview of the area shows the route we took up SP-089 in blue and the Davis Meadow Trail as shown on the Trails Illustrated map.

We approached the Davis Meadow Trailhead from the east via Highways 285 / 24. We took FS 311 from Trout Creek Pass to FS 373, then FS 373A. FS 311 starts out in good condition, passable by high clearance 2WD vehicles. Later it turns into “easy 4WD” but it gets very steep in spots which may be a problem during wet weather. You can also approach from the west side coming up from Buena Vista. Check the San Isabel National Forest map for the complete picture.

Just to the east of the unnamed summit is a natural arch, marked on some maps as Aspen Arch. We’ve hiked up the arch on numerous occasions, often with visitors from out of state. So we’ve started referring to this unnamed SOTA as Aspen Arch, to differentiate it from the other unnamed summits in the area.

SOTA summit W0C/SP-089 is also known by its elevation (10525). A nearby landmark is Aspen Arch.

The Davis Meadow Trailhead is marked by a sign. Trail 1413 heads north and loops around the north side of SP-089. The trail is well laid out with plenty of switchbacks, much more than indicated on the Trails Illustrated map.

The blue line shows our actual hiking route as tracked by my GPS app.

We followed the trail until it looped around the north side of SP-089. Marmot Peak, another SOTA summit (W0C/SP-063), sticks out prominently to the north and is a good landmark to use for navigating. As shown on the map above, we left the trail and bushwacked south up to the summit. I don’t claim that our route was optimal. It was classic offtrail hiking with some areas quite open and others clogged with plenty of downed trees and rocks. (Next time, I think we’ll try to stay a little further east of our recorded track. It looked a little better over there.)

Joyce/K0JJW on the well-established Davis Meadow Trail.

The GPS app on my phone recorded the one-way hike as 2.7 miles and 1100 vertical feet.

This was typical of the downed timber on the bushwack portion of the hike.

We arrrived at the summit around noon and thunderstorms were moving into the area. We both made four quick radio contacts on 2m FM to get the activation points, then headed back down the trail.  The summit is exposed and very rocky but once we got off the top, we were hiking in trees with limited lightning danger. Thanks to Bob/W0BV, Jim/KD0MRC, Larry/KL7GLK and Kevin/KD0VHD for working us.

After our first bushwack adventure on this summit, we were not motived to activate this one again. However, using the Davis Meadow Trail has changed our opinion.  (Thanks Walt/W0CP!)  This route still has some offtrail bushwacking but it is not bad. We will be back!

The post A Better Route Up SOTA W0C/SP-089 appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.

Bob Witte, KØNR, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Colorado, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

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