Triad Ridge (alt. 9,630 feet) - Chaffee County, CO

My Hike To The Summit Of Triad Ridge Near Buena Vista, Colorado - June 6, 2010

Mt. Princeton

I doubt there are Colorado vacationers who dream of summiting Triad Ridge. Neither are there locals. Triad Ridge is located on the south side of Trout Creek, and although most don't know its name, it has some prominence to the southeast of Johnson Village and Buena Vista. This is a mountain that does not receive much hiking traffic!

How I Got There: From Johnson Village, I traveled east on Highways 24 & 285 and turned right (south) on Chaffee County Road 301. I traveled 1.5 miles on C.R. 301 and turned left (east) on a dirt road that leads to the entrance of Carnage Canyon and Chinaman Gulch. A gate is often across the road. It can be undone but be sure to close it after proceeding through. This area can also be access from the east via Chaffee County Road 300. You definitely should have a quality topographical map, if you explore this region.

This was a great hike, of course, because any day in the mountains is a good one. However, I must admit that realistically, I doubt I will do this climb again. I'm probably a rare character: I climb these local peaks because they are there and I frequently look at them as a year-round resident. However, if a friend asked me to suggest a local hike, Triad Ridge would be low on my list.

Buena Vista, Colorado

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Triad Ridge in Chaffee County, Colorado - Elevation 9,630 Feet
Johnson Village, CO
Facing east with Johnson Village, CO in the foreground. The red arrow points to the summit - the goal of today's hike.

Carnage Canyon, CO
Carnage Canyon

My hike began at the mouth of Carnage Canyon. This canyon has a road that is considered to be one of the most extreme 4-wheel drive roads in all of America ...

Carnage Canyon, Colorado ... This photo provides a good example of how crazy this road is. Only the most extreme 4-wheel driver would dare to take it on.

The sign on the right makes a stern warning, which I'll repost here: Treat Lightly - Stay On Trail - Body Damage Likely - Winch Out Exit - Recovery Tools - Two Lockers - 39's Minimum - First Aid & Spill Kit - Winch

Green Post Winching off trees is prohibited. Instead, many green posts are drilled into rocks.
Carnage Canyon, CO One very rocky part of the road.

Here's are YouTube videos showing 4-wheeling madness in Carnage Canyon:

  • Carnage Canyon 4-Wheeling (3:58)
  • Carnage Canyon Moon Buggy (9:18)
  • Vehicle Tips in Carnage Canyon (0:53)

    My pages of 4-wheeling experiences:

  • Tincup Pass
  • South Cottonwood Canyon
  • Last Dollar Road
  • Chinaman Gulch Loop

    The road in Carnage Canyon meets with the China Gulch Loop Trail.

    Chinaman Gulch Trail
    A pretty Colorado scenery photo that includes Midland Hill, Unnamed 9,124' Point and the Buffalo Peaks. Colorado Scenery
    On the Chinaman Gulch Loop, I walked on the northern most side of the loop. It travels upward and beside Triad Ridge. At this particular spot, I turned back to capture a beautiful shot of 14er Mt. Princeton.

    Now the portions of road I hiked on this trail did not seem as rough, and in fact after looking at a 4-wheeling map, the gnarly sections of road are on the other side of the loop. Here's a video showing the extreme spots: 4-Wheeling In Chinaman Gulch (5:25)

    Chinaman Gulch Loop
    This is the area where I turned left from the road, hiked to a saddle and continued on the ridge. The summit of Triad Ridge can not be seen here. Chinaman Gulch Loop

    Chinaman Gulch, CO Climbing the ridge, the view to the south which includes the Sangre De Cristo Mountains, Mt. Ouray, Bald Mountain, Sugarloaf Mountain and Ruby Mountain. Highway 285 can be seen on the right, as it travels south toward Salida and Poncha Springs.
    Colorado Mountain Scenery I turned back to take in the stunning mountain scenery. Mt. Princeton is on the right. 14ers Mt. Shavano, Tabeguache Peak and Mt. Antero are on the left.
    Talus This was a gnarly climb! Near a false summit, I contended with ugly and steep talus. Folks, Triad Ridge does not have a trail and I did a lot of scrambling as I climbed upward. I would call today's hike adventuresome, but I wouldn't use the word "fun."
    Triad Ridge, CO

    Steve Garufi

    Summit of Triad Ridge - 9,620 Feet

    There is no obvious summit on Triad Ridge. However, my topographical map marked it at 9,620 feet on the north side of the ridge. As I wandered on the ridge, this did seem to be the highest point.

    TOP: From the summit, the view facing south across the ridge.

    Colorado Scenery A beautiful view of the Arkansas River Valley. Mt. Princeton and Mt. Yale are in the background. The lake in the foreground (left of center) is private and manmade.
    Facing northeast. The town of Buena Vista, Colorado can been seen in the valley.
    Triad Ridge, CO Triad Ridge is most noticeable as one drives on Highway 24 & 285 between Trout Creek Pass and Johnson Village. Adjacent is a shot of the road as it snakes toward Trout Creek Pass.

    Across in the background is Limestone Ridge, which I hiked last year.

    Mt. Antero, CO Coming down, I captured this nice view of Mt. Antero.
    Buena Vista, CO

    One last photo from the summit. I zoomed-in somewhat to give a better view of Johnson Village, the prison complex and Buena Vista. It was great to be up there! :)

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