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Now it’s time to make it official on Headwaters Hill

Brief by Central Staff

Geography – March 2000 – Colorado Central Magazine

The little mountain that doesn’t have a name might be a little closer to getting one, now that the people who think it should have a name have agreed on one: Headwaters Hill.

The 11,862-foot peak is in Saguache County, 4½ miles south of the summit of Marshall Pass. It’s a rare triple divide (there are only five in the continental United States), and it separates these watersheds:

East Middle Creek to Middle Creek to Saguache Creek to San Luis Creek to San Luis Lake in the Closed Basin, whence no water naturally flows out.

Silver Creek to Poncha Creek to the South Arkansas River to the Arkansas River to the Mississippi River to the Atlantic Ocean.

Millswitch Creek to Marshall Creek to Tomichi Creek to the Gunnison River to the Colorado River to the Pacific Ocean.

So far, the only other proposed name has come in a 1983 guidebook to the Continental Divide Trail — Arkarado Grande Peak for the Arkansas, Colorado, and Rio Grande drainages. However, the “Grande” part isn’t accurate, since the peak does not naturally drain into the Rio Grande. (Some of its water does reach the Rio Grande unnaturally, though, thanks to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the Closed Basin Project.)

Headwaters Hill is also on or near the Rainbow Trail and the Colorado Trail, making its vicinity something of a crossroads in certain respects.

The main movers on the naming project are George Sibley, a frequent Colorado Central contributor who teaches at Western State College in Gunnison, and Dale Sanderson, a cartographer for US West in Denver.

After a “naming quest” hike to the summit on Oct. 2 of last year — with about 20 participants, including our own gasping and wheezing Ed Quillen — Sibley and Sanderson agreed on Headwaters Hill (Quillen liked “Headwaters Hump” better, but …).

Now it’s a matter of getting endorsements from local governments and land-management agencies before presenting a petition to the U.S. Board of Geographic Names.

If you’re interested in signing a petition, there’s one at the Trailhead outdoor shop in Buena Vista, complete with maps and other information. Or, you can send a letter to George Sibley, Western State College, Gunnison CO 81231.

And if you want to check it out on the Web, Sanderson maintains a site with pictures, maps, and the like. The site has a long name; the easiest way to reach it is to go to our site at, look at the map on the right side, and click on Headwaters Hill. That will take you to Sanderson’s website.