Electric Pass Peak

Crested Butte

Salida

13,365-foot “Electric Pass Peak” is a rare 13er with a trail to the summit.

Hiking Difficult

Distance
17 km
Ascent
1.2 km
Descent
1.2 km
Duration
4-5 hrs
Low Point
3 km
High Point
4.1 km
Gradient
15˚
VIEW ON MAP
Electric Pass Peak Map

Description

The trailhead, located 13 miles west of Aspen, and the first 2.3 miles of trail is shared with the very popular hike to Cathedral Lake. If hiking in the summer or on a weekend, expect to encounter numerous other hikers until the junction with “Electric Pass Peak.” The name is in quotes as it is an informal name, rather than an official one. The official name is the lackluster Unnamed 13,365.

For a premier “Electric Pass Peak” hike, plan on a weekday during the peak of autumn color. The trail starts smack dab in the middle of golden aspen trees in late September, and there will be very few hikers sharing the trail past the Cathedral Lake junction.

Plan to start this hike early to allow plenty of time for gawking at the frequent scenic opportunities. This is not a place to hurry; it really does demand to be savored. Another reason to allow ample time is the physical demand of gaining nearly 3,500' of elevation in less than 5 miles! The gain begins right out of the gate and is steady right up to the summit.

The early portion of the hike ascends the Pine Creek drainage, with periodic views of Pine Creek. Then the trail switchbacks very steeply as it nears the lake junction. At the signed junction, head right to follow the Electric Pass Trail as it wends through thick willows. Be sure to take a moment to stop and gaze down for a gorgeous view of the emerald-hued Cathedral Lake.

Continue ascending with a close-up view of 13,322' Leahy Peak smack in front of you. The next portion climbs Leahy's flank to the saddle between Leahy Peak and “Electric Pass Peak”. To the southwest, other peaks come into sight, including 13,943' Cathedral Peak and 14,265' Castle Peak.

From the saddle, continue up a series of switchbacks to the only sketchy stretch of the route. Carefully negotiate the trail as it crosses a steep scree field and on up to Electric Pass. The Aspen Ranger District of the White River National Forest recommends that you “continue across the scree field with caution.” Trekking poles are immensely helpful here!

Once at Electric Pass, known as the highest trail pass in Colorado, enjoy spectacular views in every direction before heading up the remaining short distance to the 13,365' summit. After taking a summit photo, this is a good time to decide whether to return the way you came, add on the additional hike to the summit of Leahy Peak, and/or the side trip to Cathedral Lake. Adding both makes for a 12-mile trek.

Regardless of the options chosen, this will be a memorable day in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness.

Difficulty

Difficult

Hiking trails where obstacles such as rocks or roots are prevalent. Some obstacles can require care to step over or around. At times, the trail can be worn and eroded. The grade of the trail is generally quite steep, and can often lead to strenuous hiking.

High Exposure

3 out of 4

Some trail sections have exposed ledges or steep ascents/descents where falling could cause serious injury.

Remoteness

3 out of 4

Little chance of being seen or helped in case of an accident.

Best time to visit

June, July, August, September

Features

  • Alpine
  • Picturesque
  • Summit Hike
  • Wild flowers
  • Water features
  • Forestry or heavy vegetation

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area