Peter Estin Hut ELEVATION: 11,200 feet
HUTSKI.COM FREE TOPO MAPS: Peter Estin Hut (see below), Sylvan Lake
GPS: 358 110 E, 43 69 572 N
TRAILHEADS: Yeoman Park, Sylvan Lake
USGS 7.5 min map: Crooked Creek Pass
10th Mountain Huts map: New York Mountain
Peter Estin Hut seems to always have the powder snow. Click to enlarge.
Built in 1985, Peter Estin Hut was the third publicly funded hut added to the 10th Mountain system. Funds were donated by the Estin family in memory of Peter Estin.
Peter Estin Hut is located in a clearing on a timbered saddle just northwest of Charles Peak (12,050 feet), with a stunning view of the Elk and Williams mountains to the south. Centered in a vast forested area, the hut provides access to myriad trails, dirt roads for summer recreation, and one alpine ridge that leads to the hear of Colorado's Gore mountain range.
If you have used other "standard" 10th Mountain huts, the Peter Estin will look familiar. It stands two stories high with a commodious deck jutting from the front door. Plentiful glass faces the south views.
Building the Peter Estin Hut began 10th Mountain's trend of placing huts closer to timberline, with access to terrain that varies from forest walks to technical climbing. To that end, alpine access from the Estin Hut (as it's known for short) is available via Prospect Peak and Charles Ridge. For powder skiers the face of Prospect Peak just above the hut is a fine playground with minimal avalanche danger. Terrain with slightly more challenge is available outside the front door of the hut in the southerly "meadows." For ski-throughs head south to the Harry Gates Hut, or go north into the Yeoman Park and Fulford area to access the Polar Star Inn.
In the past the Peter Estin Hut has been open in the summer. A call to 10th Mountain will get you the latest information concerning the current summer policy. Summer is a terrific season for enjoying this hut. Cyclists can use hundreds of miles of low-angled logging roads that surround the hut, and there are plenty of options for hikers and equestrians.
Map below connects to Polar Star Inn on the top (north) and Crooked Creek on the bottom (south).
To view area around Estin Hut, scroll to bottom of map. If you have trouble viewing this map, please try our Peter Estin PDF.
Sylvan Lake Trailhead—Peter Estin Hut via Crooked Creek Pass DIFFICULTY: Intermediate
HUTSKI.COM FREE TOPO MAPS: Sylvan Lake, Peter Estin Hut (see above), Crooked Creek, Crooked Creek West
TIME: 11 hours up, 8 hours down
DISTANCE: 9 1/2 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 2,907 feet; loss: 265 feet
This route is a long, less popular trail that uses miles of snowmobile track. Thus, it might prove attractive after a new snow which could mean strenuous trailbreaking on a lesser used trail. For a shorter and less mechanized route to the hut use the Ironedge Trail (see below). The route is marked with blue diamonds and is an official 10th Mountain trail, but we do not recommend it because of its length.
Touring above Peter Estin Hut
Begin at the Sylvan Lake Trailhead with Nordic wax. From parking, ski up the distinct snow-covered West Brush Creek road-cut (also called the Eagle Road) around the north and east sides of the lake, then up into the Brush Creek valley for 4 3/4 miles to Crooked Creek Pass.
Leave the West Brush Creek (Eagle) Road at the summit of the pass and turn NW (on the west side of an obvious fence) up a road-cut that climbs just over 1/4 mile to a switchback, then SE to another switchback, then around the west shoulder of point 11,087. The road, still an obvious cut, follows a long traverse on the north side of point 11,087, then drops 260 vertical feet to a saddle near the head of Spine Creek (10,700 feet).
Stay on the road from the saddle for another 1/8 mile NE to a switchback. Leave the road here and climb E 1/4 mile and 90 vertical feet to the top of the ridge separating Spine Creek from Little Lime Creek. Here your route converges with the Lime Ridge Trail (see Lime Ridge route below and on Harry Gates Hut page) and continues N up a well-marked route through aspen and conifer, then through a sparsely timbered logging area.
The Peter Estin Hut is slightly hidden from the trail; you can ski past it if you are not paying attention. To prevent this mistake, as you ski through the forest use your altimeter and map to identify the three-trail confluence that you hit at a broad saddle (Hat Creek Saddle) just west of the hut. Swing E at the saddle, and when you break through a grove of pines the hut will be in front of you. Sniffing for wood smoke can help too, but your compass is more reliable than your nose. A GPS can help as well.
Take care with route-finding in Spine Creek, since the trail only uses the upper part of the drainage.
All these roads make fine equestrian, bicycle, and hiking routes.
OTHER NOTES: The family that funded the Peter Estin hut is ever concerned about the hut being called "Peter Estin," rather than shortened to "Estin." While guidebooks nod to common use of the language, we can also support this sort of thing. Thus, above notice we emphasize calling the hut "Peter Estin."
Yeoman Park Trailhead—Peter Estin Hut via Hat Creek DIFFICULTY: Intermediate
HUTSKI.COM FREE MAP: Peter Estin Hut (see above)
TIME: 8 hours up, 6 hours down
DISTANCE: 7 1/2 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 2,140 feet
As an ascent route many skiers will find this 10th Mountain suggested route to be quite tedious, but it is a perfect descent for those with minimal ski skills. The steeper alternative is the Ironedge Trail. Begin at Yeoman Park Trailhead. Start with cross country wax but keep your climbing skins handy. Carefully identify the start of the Hat Creek Road. It begins just west of the actual campground and follows a distinct road-cut up a SE-climbing traverse. Follow the road to the first switchback and continue climbing NW through several more switchbacks. Stay on the road; at 9,400 feet you'll swing S into the Hat Creek drainage.
Once in Hat Creek, the route continues to be obvious and well marked. Basically you stay on the main snow-covered logging road as it parallels Hat Creek. The only deviation from the creek takes switchbacks starting at 9,800 feet elevation. At a 10,820-foot saddle (Ironedge Saddle) at the head of the Hat Creek drainage, the logging road makes a turn to the south. Leave the road here, ski several hundred feet farther E, and intersect the continuation of the Ironedge Trail that 10th Mountain has marked. Climb this trail 3/4 mile SE up through timber to the Peter Estin Hut. This section of trail is less obvious than the logging roads, so pay attention.
REVERSE ROUTE DESCRIPTION: For the reverse, ski fifty feet W of the hut, then N downhill through timber to the 10,820-foot saddle (Ironedge Saddle). Though this route is marked by 10th Mountain, the pull of cutting turns could lead you past the saddle and down the Ironedge Trail. This will be fine for good skiers, since "all roads lead to Rome." Intermediate skiers, however, should make an effort to stay in Hat Creek since the icy toboggan run downhills of the Ironedge require legs of iron and an edge of courage.
SAFETY NOTES: Though a bit long, this is a safe, mellow route.
The Hat Creek Road is a fine bicycle, equestrian, and hiking route. Summer users should take the road all the way to Hat Creek Saddle (see text map), as the 10th Mountain route up from Ironedge Saddle does not follow a summer path—it is just a marked route through the forest.
Skiing below Peter Estin Hut
Yeoman Park Trailhead—Peter Estin Hut via Ironedge Trail DIFFICULTY: Intermediate/advanced
HUTSKI.COM FREE MAPS: Peter Estin Hut (see above)
TIME: 6 hours up, 4 hours down
DISTANCE: 4 1/2 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 2,140 feet
This 10th Mountain suggested route follows a fine single track trail (closed to snowmobiles). It is an efficient ascent route but can be a hairy downhill. Those with minimal turn skill should consider descending Hat Creek (route 6.2).
ROUTE DESCRIPTION: From the Yeoman Park Trailhead at the campground ski (or walk depending on snow cover) N back across the bridge over East Brush Creek, then turn right (E) onto the East Brush Creek Road. The first part of this route uses the snow-covered East Brush Creek (Eagle) Road for 1 1/2 miles to road's end at Fulford Cave Campground. As you ski up the road, you'll pass two left turns onto other 10th Mountain suggested trails: the Fulford Road at just under 1/2 mile and the Newcomer Spring Trail after another 3/4 mile at 9,280 feet. Be sure not to turn onto these trails.
At Fulford Cave Campground swing around the east end of a small lake, then angle back W for a few hundred feet to a distinct trail-cut that heads through private property. Stay on the trail as it leads past several buildings and begins to climb—and climb. The switchbacks start at 9,560 feet, and they keep you breathing hard to the Ironedge Saddle at 10,820 feet. Take care at Ironedge Saddle to identify the marked 10th Mountain suggested route that leads SE then S up through timber to the Peter Estin Hut. If you get confused here you could easily end up skiing on the Hat Creek Road up to Hat Creek Saddle. If this happens, just ski E to the hut from Hat Creek Saddle. To prevent confusion, use your compass at Ironedge Saddle.
REVERSE ROUTE DESCRIPTION:
To descend the Ironedge Trail, ski 50 feet W from the Peter Estin Hut, then take care to turn N onto the 10th Mountain suggested route down through timber to the Ironedge Saddle. From the Ironedge Saddle ski the fall line for a short distance to a dropping traverse to the left. This traverse leads to the famous Ironedge switchbacks. Ski down the switchbacks and reverse the route above to the Yeoman Park Trailhead.
SAFETY NOTES: This route has no avalanche danger. Ski in control.
SUMMER: The Ironedge Trail is a good horse and hike route. Expert mountain bike riders love it as a descent route, but find it a difficult ascent. Cyclists should use Hat Creek to gain their vertical. A good loop goes up Hat Creek then down the Ironedge.
Peter Estin Hut to Harry Gates Hut via Crooked Creek Pass DIFFICULTY: Intermediate
HUTSKI.COM FREE MAPS: Crooked Creek, Peter Estin Hut (see above)
TIME: 7 hours
DISTANCE: 9 1/2 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 775 feet; loss: 2,275 feet
This 10th Mountain suggested route wanders, but it is an excellent choice if you prefer mellow downhills. Leave your skins in your pack and use Nordic wax.
ROUTE DESCRIPTION: Get out your map and compass while you're still in the hut, review this route, and remember to calibrate your altimeter. From the front steps of the Peter Estin Hut ski W about 600 feet to Hat Creek Saddle. From Hat Creek Saddle travel S down through a sparsely timbered logging area, then through dense conifer and aspen. At 10,850 feet take a crucial right (W) turn into the Spine Creek drainage and drop 90 vertical feet to the Spine Creek logging road (10,760 feet) at the head of the Spine Creek drainage.
Take care here as the route follows the logging road which, instead of descending the drainage, takes a climbing traverse W along the south side of the drainage. The climb takes you 3/4 mile to 10,965 feet where the road begins to drop, then takes an obvious left (S) turn, and drops via two switchbacks to Crooked Creek Pass. From here follow Lime Park and Burnt Mountain roads to the Harry Gates Hut (see associated routes on this page and also Harry Gates Hut page).
Do careful navigation so that you drop into Spine Creek. Be sure to find the logging road out of Spine Creek, since an inadvertent descent of Spine Creek will place you far down the Brush Creek Road on the wrong side of Crooked Creek Pass.
Hikers, bikers, and horseback riders can use this route. At the head of Spine Creek deviate from the 10th Mountain suggested route and use the logging road and trail as marked on the USGS Crooked Creek Pass map.
Peter Estin Hut to Harry Gates Hut via Lime Ridge Trail DIFFICULTY: Intermediate
HUTSKI.COM FREE TOPO MAPS: Peter Estin Hut (see above), Crooked Creek, Crooked Creek West
TIME: 6 hours
10TH MTN MAP: Burnt Mountain
DISTANCE: 7 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 630 feet; loss: 2,130 feet
This is the most efficient route between the Peter Estin Hut and Harry Gates Hut. It has some fast downhill sections if you're traveling from Estin, so be sure you can push a strong "survival" snowplow. The first half of the route descends the ridge separating Little Lime Creek from Middle Creek. Keep this in mind while navigating.
While still at the hut enjoy a cup of tea while you do a map check, set your altimeter, and add a few critical waypoints to your GPS. Keep your climbing skins in your pack. From the front steps of the Peter Estin Hut ski W about 600 feet to Hat Creek Saddle. From Hat Creek Saddle travel S down through a sparsely timbered logging area, past the right turn into Spine Creek, and into the trees on the east side of the ridge (10,845 feet). Continue down the ridge and around one switchback to a flat area at 10,200 feet.
From the flat area continue S 1/4 mile down the ridge, through the dense evergreens of Sherwood Forest, and to the meadows at 10,150 feet. Ski the marked trail as it uses intermittent clearings to descend the ridge crest down to the end of the ridge. Here, instead of dropping off the steep end of the ridge, the trail switchbacks left (N) and takes a descending traverse 1/4 mile to cross Little Lime Creek at 9,700 feet.
Ski 1/2 mile down the east side of Little Lime Creek, cross the east fork of Little Lime Creek, then begin a gradual climb S then W for 1 mile to an indistinct jeep trail on top of the ridge. Descend this jeep trail 3/4 mile SW along the ridge crest, then drop S into Lime Park and continue S across Lime Park to the bridge crossing Lime Creek at 9,190 feet. The route across Lime Park follows dirt roads. These are usually obscured by the snow cover, but the junctions are well signed and several fence breaks show where the road goes.
Lime Park can be a sublime place for ski touring, Avalanche Peak looms to the east, and the sculpted snowscape of the park lends a special mood. But the place is so vast that navigating in poor visibility can be a nightmare. The danger is that you'll miss the crossing of Lime Creek and descend into Lime Creek Canyon, a narrow trap where you could die. You must find the bridge crossing Lime Creek at 9,190 feet, and the only way to do that in a whiteout is with compass and altimeter, best combined with a GPS (and perhaps the occasional blue diamond if fortune favors you).
From the bridge over Lime Creek follow the snow-covered Burnt Mountain Road as it climbs E than S up to a band of timber, then breaks out into another open area at Slim Jim Gulch. Stay on the road and continue S 3/4 mile to 9,566 feet on the Burnt Mountain Road. Leave the road here. Take a left (E) turn and climb a hill 1/4 mile NE to the Harry Gates Hut. You can't see the hut when you turn from the road—it comes into sight when you're about halfway up the hill. This climb is too short to warrant skins, but you may have to use a few herringbone steps.
Ski in control on the downhills. Pay attention to route-finding in Lime Park. Be courteous to snowmobiles in Lime Park and they will return in-kind.
The Lime Ridge portion of this route is only a marked route with no tread. Thus, hikers and equestrians should consider using the pack trail in the Little Lime Creek drainage. The roads in Lime Park are fine for all summer activities.
Peter Estin Hut to Harry Gates Hut via Lime Drainage Trail DIFFICULTY: Advanced
HUTSKI.COM FREE MAPS: Peter Estin Hut (see above), Crooked Creek
TIME: 5 1/2 hours
DISTANCE: 6 1/4 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 630 feet; loss: 2,130 feet
This alternate route hits some good downhill skiing and cuts a bit of distance off the Lime Ridge Trail. Because it is unmarked and has a small amount of potential slide danger, only advanced skiers should use this route. Since you are going cold turkey from "blue diamond dependency," be extra sure to carry—and know how to use—your map, compass, altimeter and optional GPS.
ROUTE DESCRIPTION: The best way to begin is by making turns down the bowl that starts just a few feet south of the hut. There can be avalanche danger here, so determine the conditions before you jump in, and use proper procedure while skiing. To get the best ski line, stay a bit west of the bowl proper and ski a small ridge S to an opening in the creek bottom (10,560 feet). From here you can contour SE to the large open slope east of the creek. Work this slope, then traverse S to another smaller bowl. At 10,000 feet cross the creek and descend the west side of the creek to 9,850 feet, then intersect the Lime Ridge route (see above) at the crossing of Little Lime Creek. Follow Lime Ridge route to Harry Gates Hut.
For this route you should be skilled in avalanche hazard guesswork, navigation, and downhill skiing. Slide danger can be avoided by skiing through the trees on either side of the open areas.
Hikers and horses can use the pack trail that follows Little Lime Creek. Cyclists will find better riding on the dirt roads in the area.
Peter Estin Hut to Polar Star Inn DIFFICULTY: Intermediate
HUTSKI.COM FREE MAPS: Peter Estin Hut (see above)
TIME: 8 hours (via Ironedge Trail and Newcomer Spring)
DISTANCE: 8 1/4 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 1,900 feet; loss: 2,060 feet
Since the routes from the Peter Estin Hut to the Polar Star Inn pass through or close to the Yeoman Park Trailhead, they are detailed in other route descriptions her at HutSki. To travel from the Peter Estin Hut to the Polar Star Inn you can pick from several routes down into the East Brush Creek drainage, and several that climb out of the drainage, then head N to the Inn. The most direct route down from the Peter Estin Hut is the Ironedge Trail Skiers with minimal downhill skills should consider using Hat Creek Hat Creek adds about 4 miles to the trip. You have two choices for the climb up from East Brush Creek to the Polar Star Inn. If you're coming from Hat Creek, use the Fulford Road route. If you skied the Ironedge Trail, ascend the Newcomer Spring route.
Peter Estin Hut Regional Skiing
Aerial photo of Estin hut region, click to enlarge.
Prospect Peak from the Peter Estin Hut
HUTSKI.COM FREE MAPS: Peter Estin Hut (see above)
TIME: Several hours to a half day
DISTANCE: 1 mile round trip
ELEVATION GAIN: 640 feet
Prospect Peak is the timbered bump (11,480 feet) rising east from the Peter Estin Hut. A large open area on the west side below the summit is a good place for mellow and usually avalanche safe downhill skiing. You'll usually find a climbing trail leading from hut to peak. If not, simply head up through the timber.
SAFETY:Avalanches are possible here during times of high hazard.
SUMMER: Enjoy this as a hike. The terrain is not suitable for bicycles or horses.
Making Tracks on Fools Peak.
Charles Peak and Fools Peak from the Peter Estin Hut
HUTSKI.COM FREE MAPS: Peter Estin Hut (see above), Crooked Creek, Crooked Creek East
TIME: Several hours to a full day
DISTANCE: Charles Peak, 1 1/2 mi., Fools Peak, 6 1/4 miles
ELEVATION GAIN (round trip): Charles Peak, 950 feet; Fools Peak, 3,000 feet
If you want a branch route that climbs to alpine terrain from the Peter Estin Hut, you only have one choice—the Charles Ridge. Beginning at Prospect Peak east of the Estin Hut and extending 4 miles to Eagle Peak, this ridge probes the Holy Cross Mountains where 14,005-foot Mount of the Holy Cross lords over scores of 12,000- and 13,000-foot peaks. In winter conditions intermediate skiers should venture no farther than Charles Peak. Here you'll have a good tour on the ridge between Prospect Peak and Charles, and a good downhill run from Prospect down to the hut. Advanced skiers can climb Fools Peak, and expert mountaineers can attempt a long ridge-run to Eagle Peak.
To reach the summit of Charles Peak climb NE from the Peter Estin Hut into the clearing below Prospect Peak, where you'll usually find some exuberant ski tracks—and skiers. Climb the clearing to the Prospect Peak, then follow the ridge SE to Charles Peak. Descend the ridge back to Prospect Peak, then ski the clearing or ski the open area west of the summit down to treeline, then traverse to the aforementioned clearing.
The summit of Fools Peak is a worthy goal, but the trip requires advanced skill in all aspects of winter mountaineering. Parties on this climb should carry avalanche rescue beacons and associate safety equipment. The route follows the Charles Ridge to the 12,100-foot saddle just west of the Fools Peak summit. From the saddle you cut a short traverse, then climb the west face to the summit, sticking to the ridge to your left (as much as you can) to lessen avalanche exposure. Return via the same route.
SAFETY NOTES: There is a great deal of slide terrain on the sides of Charles Ridge. While on the ridge it may take a bit of extra effort to stay off these slopes, especially while negotiating point 11,905. Remember that you are traveling above timberline in alpine conditions different than those you deal with down in the woods. Carry full bivouac gear and ski conservatively.
SUMMER: Charles Ridge is a wonderful alpine hike. You should have mountaineering skills to wander beyond Fools Peak.
Please note: The information in this website is based on the experience and research of the site owners and their sources, may not be accurate, and might not be perceived as accurate by other persons. Therefore, extreme care should be taken when following any of the backcountry skiing 10th Mountain Huts, Summit Huts and Braun Huts routes described in this website. This website is not intended to be instructional but rather is a guide for backcountry users who already have the requisite training, experience, and knowledge for the activities they choose. An advanced level of expertise and physical conditioning is necessary for even the "easiest" of the routes and activities described herein. Proper clothing and equipment is essential. Failure to have the necessary knowledge, equipment, and conditioning will subject you to physical danger, injury, or death. Some backcountry skiing routes for 10th Mountain Huts, Summit Huts and Braun Huts have changed and others will change; avalanche hazards may have expanded or new hazards may have formed since this website's publication.
Mission statement: The mission of HutSki.com is to provide backcountry skiers and other Colorado hut users with a complete set of high quality free topo maps, plentiful how-to information, and brief route descriptions that include alternate routes as well as standard trails.