With a higher elevation start, Fairview Peak is an easy Class 1 walkup that may not require 4WD, but a higher clearance vehicle will assist you in a closer start. The most difficult aspect of summiting this peak is figuring out the complicated roads that access the start. It's isolated position means there are no other 13er summits in the near vicinity you can combine with Fairview, however, Henry Mtn. and Fitzpatrick are within easy driving range.
Fairview Peak South Ridge Route
Medium Day // Take a Lunch
RT From Fairview Peak South Ridge:
There are two ways to get to this trailhead, both of which share some complications because of recent property developments in this area:
A. This driving route begins from the townsite of Pitkin. From the intersection of US50 and SH135 in downtown Gunnison, drive 11.7 miles east of Gunnison on US50 and turn NE onto CR76 at "Parlin." Drive on CR76 through the township of Ohio and continue 6 more miles to Pitkin. The following directions are provided by Marianne Curtis who used this access in 2016. At Pitkin, on the west end of the town, look for a road you can turn left onto that's marked with a sign for "Quartz Creek Properties." This road will also indicate it takes you to the cemetery, but don't go into the cemetery. Instead continue uphill past "Soul's Ease Road" and then bear left to take Grasshopper Road. Continue past the Skeleton Gulch and Chicago Park roads. The Grasshopper Road will become the Highline Drive Road. Stay on this until you come to the "Terrible Mountain Road." When you make it to this last road, you've already passed the coordinates we've provided for a place to park passenger cars that may be somewhat out of the way for the various private properties. That spot is a short distance back at a "Y" intersection. According to a report we received in 2021, passenger vehicles may have difficulty reaching this "Y" intersection. Higher clearance vehicle is advisable. If you have 4WD with good clearance, you can proceed up Terrible Mountain Road to the ruins of the Fairview Mine or even further up to another possible parking location at 12,130 ft., where the trail takes you on up the south ridge of the peak. Marianne provided some photos she took of a county road map that shows all of the new development roads. See our photo gallery for two images of that map. If you use this route, we would not suggest trying to camp anywhere around here because of all the private property issues. If you do so, do it at your own risk.
B. We now advise taking a minimum, higher clearance vehicle for this trailhead approach. An alternate route still goes from Parlin to Ohio and Pitkin and then continues on past Pitkin on good, graded dirt road to the Quartz Creek campground for a possible camp location. This is a nice little campground and we were surprised to find it not full on a summer, Friday evening - but don't count on that. Under a mile north past the campground, turn left (west) onto FR766 which leads up Halls Gulch. The first two miles of this road are passenger car accessible, but after that, we would recommend at least having a higher clearance vehicle to proceed further. (A 2021 report submitted to us by a contributor says that this road "gets bad, fast, then a little better when you turn onto 766.1A." The same person attempted to take a Honda Element up this way, incurring some damage to their vehicle and eventually parking near the Terrible Mountain Road at 10, 600 ft. and hiking from there.) After the initial two miles, FR766 begins to have multiple branches heading off in various directions and additional development roads have confused things even more. The goal will be to work your way uphill on the west side of the gulch and gain the ridge above. FR766 1A appears to take you up on multiple switchbacks. At some point, that road becomes FR770 1A and then just FR770. This will lead you over to the parking coordinates we have provided for passenger cars. We might add that in 2009, when we drove in this way, we also drove back out and were unable to exactly duplicate our driving route in because of the multiplicity of roads. Nevertheless, we did make our way back down with only one or two wrong turns.
As mentioned above, the best camping option is to use the Quartz Creek Campground about 3 - 4 miles past Pitkin on CR765. (CR76 turns to CR765 at the town of Pitkin.)
Quartz Creek CG ›
N 38° 38' 19.32", W 106° 28' 09.10"
Click thumbnail to view full-size photo + caption
Year Climbed: 2009
From either the coordinates we've provided for a car park, or the turn onto "Terrible Mountain Road" a little further up, follow that road up to the ruins of the old Fairview Mine at 12,000 ft. Even if you have 4WD, we would recommend parking here just to keep things sporting. The road to here according to a 2021 report submitted to us, requires higher clearance, 4WD now. Beyond the mine, the old roadbed follows a wide ridge on the eastern flank of "Terrible Mountain" until it comes to the base of Fairview Peak. As it follows this wide ridge, it only gains a modest amount of elevation. From the base of Fairview, a trail heads directly up the south ridge, initially through/on tundra which higher up gives way to broken talus. The cairn-marked trail continues through the talus to the summit.
In 2009, when we arrived at the summit, we found a small, stone building that looked recently occupied or used, but which had a large snowdrift inside. Apparently, according to Marianne Curtis, efforts are underway to "restore" this building. Built in 1912, it was originally a fire tower lookout, but was struck by lightening so many times, it was abandoned. A second story wood structure has been added above the first floor stone now. See our photo gallery for a view provided by Marianne of this building.
Once you've reached this summit, return as you came. The entire hike may only take 2 - 3 hours, so if you're looking for another summit the same day, take FR765 to the top of Cumberland Pass and Napoleon Peak (a 12er) and Fitzpatrick can also be completed in short enough order to still avoid the afternoon showers.
Links to other information, routes & trip reports for this peak that may be helpful.
Mountain Handbook ›
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"You may travel as far as you desire, but eventually the memories arrive in the baggage car." Source unknown