Lobo Overlook is an excellent summit and tourist spot near Wolf Creek Pass, one of the most scenic passes in Colorado. I’ve been up there for VHF contests and other mountaintop operations and initially thought it might be a SOTA summit. No such luck, as it is superseded by a higher summit nearby (W0C/RG-169). Lobo Overlook is accessed via an easy 3-mile gravel road just off the pass. The road leads to two small loops at the top, one of which is the actual Lobo Overlook while the other goes to an obvious radio site. The trail to RG-169 is best accessed from the radio site, so we parked there. Wolf Creek Pass and Lobo Overlook sit right on the Continental Divide and the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) passes through here just a bit to the west.
This unnamed summit is listed as 11820 in the SOTA database. However, Lists of John (which was used to create the W0C SOTA database) shows this summit as 11831. My topo map seems to agree with 11831, so this might be an error. Of course, such a cool summit near the CDT deserves a name, so Joyce/K0JJW and I decided to call it Lobo Peak, for obvious reasons. (I looked for an existing nearby Lobo Peak and did not find one.)
Near the radio site, we started at the marked trailhead and headed west on Lobo Trail (878), actually going downhill to intersect the CDT about a half mile down the trail. At the trailhead, it was not obvious which summit we were headed to and it might not even be visible at that point. The summit did reveal itself as we headed down the CDT (see first photo above). We followed the CDT to a visible game trail that takes off steeply to the right (lat/lon 37.49765, -106.81515). There are several game trails that split off, heading up towards the saddle to the left of the summit and we stayed on the most established one. We set up our station within the activation zone just below the actual summit, avoiding the rock scrambling to get to the top.
The one-way distance on the trail is 1.2 miles with an up-and-down profile. Lobo Overlook is only slightly lower in elevation from “Lobo Peak”. The trail starts at about 11,770 feet, descending to a low point of 11,500 and back up to 11,800 at the summit. So that produces a net ascent of about 300 feet, maybe more, one way. Of course, you get to repeat this on the way back.
SOTA and POTA Activations
Once in the activation zone, we deployed the IC-705 on 2m FM, driving the 3-element Yagi antenna. We worked Travis/KB9LMJ on 146.52 MHz, who was mobile in Pagosa Springs. Further calling on 2m FM did not yield any contacts, but K0JJW and I did work each other on VHF/UHF. We had anticipated that this might be a tough place to activate on VHF, so we brought along the HF gear and set up an EndFed Halfwave antenna for 20m. Propagation was good and we soon worked 11 stations on 20m SSB.
This summit sits right on the dividing line between the Rio Grande National Forest and the San Juan National Forest, both valid for Parks On The Air (POTA). We opted to operate from the Rio Grande side (K-4405) because that was a new one for both of us.
Continental Divide Trail
I’ve hiked sections of the Continental Divide Trail before, including some pre-SOTA backpack trips with Denny/KB9DPF. It is a great trail because it runs along the backbone of the Rocky Mountains. It is often accessible via roads to high mountain passes. (Another example is Wander Ridge, just off Cottonwood Pass.) Once you hop onto the CDT, you are hiking an established trail that is literally on top of the world.
This is an excellent, easy-to-access summit in the Wolf Creek Pass area. So if you are in the area, this might be one to activate. The road to Lobo Overlook is closed during the winter.
73 Bob K0NR