Wetterhorn Peak is an incredibly stunning Colorado 14er in the San Juan Mountains that sits adjacent to Lake City and Uncompahgre Peak. This Class 3 peak features exposure, stunning meadows, incredible views, and a is a great hike to practice for some class 4 hikes in the near future. We will cover everything you need to know to hike Wetterhorn Peak.
Distance – 6.8 miles round trip (10.94 km)
Height – 14,015 feet (4271.77 m)
Elevation gain – 3,300 feet (1005.84 meters)
Duration – 7-9 hours (book time dependant upon trailhead start)
Difficulty – Strenuous
Class: Class 3 Hike
Trailhead Location – Matterhorn Creek Trailhead
Need To Know Information
- Wetterhorn Peak’s main trailhead is 4wd, but there are 2wd options as well which are discussed below.
- Dispersed camping is allowed in Uncompahgre Wilderness, but be sure to read on the rules and regulations here: https://wilderness.net/visit-wilderness/?ID=618
- This is a class 3 hike with solid exposure, so it should only be completed by those that have experience dealing with other class 3 mountains.
Hiking Route Options
There are several routes that all take hikers to WIlson’s Southwest Ridge. We will explain all of these options below. All three routes feature the same class 3 route to the summit which features fun scrambling, exposure, and great views. The route is well traveled, and well cairned, making route finding relatively simple, but of course preparation and route finding skills need to be used for this hike.
Matterhorn Creek Trailhead (4WD) | 6.8 Miles Round Trip (10.94 km) – 3,300 Feet Elevation Gain (1005.84 meters) | Class 3
This is the most common starting point for hiking Wetterhorn Peak and features an easy to follow and gradual gain approach towards Wetterhorn Peak. Hikers follow a very well traveled trail into the basin which quickly rises above treeline and has incredible views of the peaks surrounding the basin. Matterhorn Peak is visible very early on, and Wetterhorn becomes visible as hikers continue into the basin.
At about 12,000 feet, hikers bear left into the basin. The hike is very straightforward, and gradually gaining until this point. Hikers switchback up through boulders on steeper trail through this portion but end up on the saddle of Wetterhorn’s southeast ridge. This is when this hike begins to get more difficult. Once gaining the saddle, the route becomes more difficult with rock scrambling, and route finding skills being helpful.
The trail does have Cairns and is well traveled, but paying attention to the route is necessary here. Pictures of this route are below to help guide you.
Matterhorn Creek Trailhead (2WD) | 8 Miles Round Trip (12.87 km) – 3,730 Feet Elevation Gain (1136.90 meters) | Class 3
This is the same route as a bove, but hikers park at the 2wd trailhead and walk about .6 miles and 425 feet of elevation gain along the 4wd road to the 4wd trailhead.
Wetterhorn And Uncompahgre Combined | 16.3 Miles Round Trip | 6,350 Feet Elevation Gain
Many hikers will also choose to combine both peaks from the Matterhorn Creek Trailhead. This is a fantastic long day hike / trail run option.
Camping For Wetterhorn Peak
There is not a ton of great camping options for Wetterhorn. There are campsites along the first 9 miles of the road to the trailhead as well as some one North Henson Creek Road. This area is heavily camped in due to people using all terrain vehicles on these roads.
Backcountry camping is also available. See rules and regulations for the Uncompahgre Wilderness.
Current Weather Conditions:
Here is the detailed weather forecast for the next few days. We highly recommend you check out the mountain forecast for this peak the morning of your hike.
Sunny, with a high near 36. Southwest wind 10 to 15 mph.
Mostly clear, with a low around 13. Southwest wind 15 to 25 mph.
Sunny, with a high near 28. West southwest wind 20 to 25 mph.
Snow showers likely after 11pm. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 8. Southwest wind 20 to 30 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible.
Snow showers. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 12. West southwest wind 20 to 25 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New snow accumulation of 6 to 10 inches possible.
Snow showers likely. Mostly cloudy, with a low around -3. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible.
A chance of snow showers before 5pm. Partly sunny, with a high near 4. Chance of precipitation is 30%.
Directions & Parking
Directions To Matterhorn Creek Trailhead:
Max DesMarais is the founder of hikingandfishing.com. He has a passion for the outdoors and making outdoor education and adventure more accessible. Max is a published author for various outdoor adventure, travel, and marketing websites. He is an experienced hiker, backpacker, fly fisherman, trail runner, and spends his free time in the outdoors. These adventures allow him to test gear, learn new skills, and experience new places so that he can educate others. Max grew up hiking all around New Hampshire and New England. He became obsessed with the New Hampshire mountains, and the NH 48, where he guided hikes and trail runs in the White Mountains. Since moving out west, Max has continued his frequent adventures in the mountains, always testing gear, learning skills, gaining experience, and building his endurance for outdoor sports. You can read more about his experience here: hikingandfishing/about