Fairview Peak A (13,214′) | Colorado | 10/18/20

Fairview Peak A (13,214′) | CO Rank: 472/637

Sawatch Range | Gunnison National Forest | Pitkin, CO

10/18/20 | 5.5 miles | 1,575′ gain | Class 1


After a big day on Stewart Peak the day before, we decided to sleep in and see if my migraine would go away with a little extra sleep. Thankfully by morning I was feeling much better, and while we now didn’t have time to do our planned hike, Allie did find a shorter route on our way home, Fairview Peak.

We drove the long dirt roads as far as we could in the Jeep Patriot, parking just below the caution sign. Only one obstacle prevented us from driving further, but it was going to be an easy hike so we didn’t mind.

We parked just below the red caution sign.
Zoom of the sign

We hiked along the road all the way to its end, just below Fairview’s summit. The weather had called for 40+ mph winds but so far we were lucking out with barely a breeze.

The obstacle that turned us around

The road led right past the Fairview Mine, which we found worth a stop.

Fairview Mine remnants
From the Fairview Mine, viewing the remaining route up Fairview Peak
Photo: Allie

We continued on the road past the Fairview Mine. Eventually we reached the 4wd parking area about 600′ below the summit.

4wd parking area

From here, the road turned into an eroded trail which headed straight up the mountain. A cairn marked a better trail around 12,600′ and we cut off and followed this instead.

The turn-off from the eroded trail.
Looking back at the turn-off (far right) and the 4wd parking area (center).
A big cairn along the trail

The trail switchbacked across the steep talus, keeping us at a moderate incline.


Soon we could see the summit and the highlight of the trip.

Can you see it?
Zoom of the best part…
…a fire lookout! (Photo: Allie)

The last section wasn’t very steep and we made great time, excited to get to the fire lookout.

I mean, how cool is this!!?

Fairview Peak Fire Lookout is the highest fire lookout in North America at 13,214′. It was built in 1912, and looked similar to the reconstructed version existing today. The fire watchman had a 360-degree view in the cupola, and could use the installed telegraph line to report fires to the town of Pitkin, 10 miles below. It’s believed the tower was manned until 1916. The start of the World War was most likely the reason the lookout was abandoned.


In the 1960s, the Forest Service converted the lookout into a radio repeater station, removing the cupola and installing grounding wires. This didn’t last long either, as the lightning proved to be too much. In 2008, the Forest Service began restoring the lookout. They spent 6 years fixing the masonry and roof, then rebuilt the cupola in 2015. There are plans for future work as well, and we did find some abandoned supplies inside.

View to the north
View to the northeast
View to the east

The door was open so we ate our lunch inside, out of the now quite present wind. A rickety step stool system was set up so we very carefully (and one by one) climbed into the cupola to see what the fire watchman once saw.

Lunchtime in the bottom of the lookout. Photo: Peggy
Cupola views
Cupola panorama. Photo: Peggy

We spent a long time enjoying the summit and the fire lookout. Fairview was a great way to end a summer of 13ers and will likely remain one of my favorites. When we were ready to head down, we retraced our steps down the trail and then the road, all the way back to the car. Once again, we didn’t see a single other person on trail. It’s always a little extra special to have a mountain to ourselves. We finished the long drive out and back to Denver, reminiscing about a busy summer and wondering what 2021 has in store.


25 thoughts on “Fairview Peak A (13,214′) | Colorado | 10/18/20

    1. I carry about 3 liters of water but rarely go through that much unless it’s super hot or I’m on trail all day. At these elevations, it doesn’t get very hot, though between the dry air, blaring sun, and altitude, it’s easy to get dehydrated. It’s always better to bring it and not need it! I also carry way more snacks than I could ever eat just in case 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I used to drink a ton when I started hiking but less so as the years have gone by. Out of practice what with Lockdown though and got one or two longer hikes planned. Always take plenty of snacks… made that mistake once, long ago!

        Liked by 1 person

  1. That definitely is the coolest fire look-out I’ve ever seen! I bet it was nice and cozy and warm when needed. And I can see why they suggested you park where you did….yikes! Another wonderful hike with spectacular views all around.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was an amazing hike! If we had a vehicle with higher clearance, I think we could have made it all the way up, but it just wasn’t worth the risk in our small Jeep. Either way, it was only a 5.5 mile hike and well worth the extra walking!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sounds like a great day of adventure in the mountains. There are so many Thirteeners that I need to prioritize the ones I want to climb. The fire watch house is an added attraction for sure. Adventure on and happy trails! – TJ Burr, ColoMountaineer


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