Long before you make it into La Veta, the twin Spanish Peaks, named for their past life as part of Old Mexico, loom majestically over the valley. The East Peak is 12,708ft high, while the West Peak soars to 13,625ft. With incredible vertical stone dikes erupting from the earth like some kind of primordial fence line, these mountains are ripe for hiking adventures.
If you drive up Hwy 12, you’ll arrive at Cuchara Pass (9994ft), from where you can follow a forest service road 6.5 miles east to the Cordova Pass Trailhead ($5 parking fee; there are also three campsites here). From the trailhead it's a steep 2.5-mile climb to the summit of the West Peak over scree and stones; this is the most popular route up. Figure on 2½ hours up and make sure you're off the summit by noon.
The Wahatoya Trail (12 miles one-way) traverses the saddle between the peaks. As you approach the peaks, you may still see the remnants of the 2013 wildfire that burned the north side of the East Peak.
All told there are 65 miles of trails in the area: all three campgrounds offer hiking in the Sangre de Cristos to the west. Stop by the ranger offices in Cañon City, Pueblo or La Veta for maps and trail info.