Ascent of Highland Peak on 2016-06-05

Climber: Richard Hensley

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Sunday, June 5, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:4x4 Vehicle
Peak:Highland Peak
    Elevation:9395 ft / 2863 m

Ascent Trip Report

Originally planned to walk the road from the turn-off for Connor Spring to get a 2000ft hike (8-mi round-trip). Also wondered if the Connor Spring Big Trees was worth a look (it wasn't). But I had noticed that a route from the spring up the east ridge was much shorter, with only some bushwhacking in the basin and a few minor outcrops on the ridge as drawbacks. I'm always looking for an alternative to a drivable road. Besides, if the bushwhack started real bad, I could come back and walk up the road; and if the ridge was difficult, I could return down the road.
So I drove out to Connor Spring (1/2mi, 4wd mod clearance, 8 minutes.) The turn-off from Highland Pk Rd is 6.2mi from hwy 320. It ended at a still-used campsite (probably hunters), with stone masonry fire pit, and a couple crude benches. The bushwhack was tolerable, and I ended up finding an old pack trail leading up to the ridge, apparently still used by wild horses. And the ridge was easy. This turned into a good secluded hike, and I didn't even consider walking back down the road. Besides, the road has been very recently graded; like lots of loose rocks floating in fine dirt; nice for driving, but probably a nuisance for walking.
As I returned, I kept looking for a pack trail on the east ridge, but couldn't find one. Didn't need one anyway. Just stay on or near the crest; nothing worse than Class 2+. From the saddle, I stayed on the horse trail all the way to the road. For clarity, I only posted the best of each track from my GPS.
There's nowhere to park where the trail starts, so drive to the end. Expect to pick up a couple dozen new but minor scratches. Cars or pseudo-SUVs should park at the main road. From the fire pit, walk 200ft down the road to where it curves left with the drainage. In the curve, look for a path to the right that starts up the opposite (E) side of the drainage. In about 250ft it reaches another trail. Turn right and go south up into the basin. It soon crosses over to the W side of the creek. As it approaches an aspen grove, it curves left (SE). Watch for a couple switchbacks as it goes on up to the lowest saddle on the east ridge. It's overgrown a little, but close attention should keep you on it. Some of the switchbacks are duplicated; my track followed the one I thought best. From the saddle, it's an easy ridge walk to the top. At 9000ft, you go up through an easy outcrop to join a better ridge coming from the south. You may want to mark or memorize this feature; coming down the ridge, it's very easy to keep curving south and miss the ridge going east, which can't be seen from the crest.
When I got home, I looked up the Highland BM datasheet. Apparently in 1971, the road in Water Canyon only went up to and ended at Connor Spring. The surveyors described packing up to the peak via this route.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2043 ft / 621 m
    Extra Gain:150 ft / 45 m
    Round-Trip Distance:4.4 mi / 7.1 km
    Route:east ridge
    Trailhead:Connor Spring  7652 ft / 2332 m
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Scramble
    Weather:Pleasant, Breezy, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Time:1 Hours 58 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:1 Hours 28 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Richard Hensley
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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