LoJ: #331 (G & M: #329) / 13,380' Gold Dust Peak

Range › Sawatch Range
Quadrangle › Mount Jackson
Summit Location › Peak Route Icon N 39° 28' 42.96", W 106° 35' 47.04" (Not Field Checked)
Neighboring Peaks › Peak Icon Pika Peak

Peak Summary

Gold Dust Peak is somewhat equally located between the Western Slope and the Front Range with an access off I-70 and Eagle. The peak combines well with "Pika Peak" for a day hike from the Fulford Cave TH. Two wheel vehicles can make it to the trailhead but the last two miles of road get rougher and a vehicle with some additional ground clearance will assure you make it to the TH. Much of the hike is on well-maintained trail and the climbing route is Class 2+.

Gold Dust Pk West Ridge Route

Class 2+
Peak Icon Peak Icon
Long Day // Back for Dinner
Climbed with Pika Peak
RT From Fulford Cave - Lake Charles Trailhead: 10.5 mi / 3,950'
  • Trailhead
    • Fulford Cave - Lake Charles Trailhead

      From I-70, take the Eagle exit and drive south across the river. At the traffic circle just across the river, head west on the old US 6 highway. Follow sings to the Sylvan lake State Park turnoff which comes at the next traffic circle. Drive south and SE on the Sylvan Lake Road through residential areas to an intersection with the Brush Creek Road. The Brush Creek road is variously identified as CR307 or FR400. Turn right (SE) and drive several miles, passing an extensive golf course on your right. A little past the golf course, turn left (east) onto FR415 at a major, marked intersection. From this intersection, it is 6 miles to the Yeoman Park Campground on what is called the East Brush Creek Road. Continue on past the turnoff for the campground driving SE. Do not take the turnoff on the left for Fulford, but continue on to the terminus of FR415 and a small parking area for the trailhead. The last two miles of this road from Yeoman Park are the only rougher section of road. You might prefer to drive a vehicle with better clearance for this final section but we have seen standard passenger vehicles make it back here. The parking area receives a lot of weekend day use for those hiking up to see Fulford Cave. Walk to the SE end of the parking area and continue following a road bed a short distance to the actual trailhead for two trails: the Iron Edge trail #1873 that leads to the Peter Estin Hut and the Lake Charles Trail #1899. The Lake Charles Trail is the left fork. If you find yourself walking by some cabins, you're on the wrong trail.  


      Camping

      The nicest place to camp is the Yeoman Park CG, two miles back from the TH. There's a nice vault toilet setup here and some designated, fee camping sites. At the actual trailhead, there's a more primitive fee campground, still with vault toilet and a limited number of sites. Both campgrounds fill up quickly on summer weekends.

      Campsite Locations

      Fulford › N 39° 29' 31.35", W 106° 39' 32.41"
      Elevation 9,440 ft.
      Yeoman Park › N 39° 30' 09.53", W 106° 40' 45.93"
      Elevation 9,075 ft.
    Peak Icon Route Map Photos

    Route Info Gold Dust Pk West Ridge

    Route Description

    Year Climbed: 2007

    Gold Dust Peak combines well with Pika Peak, its neighbor to the south along a rugged, connecting ridge, so we have sequenced these two. To see the entire hiking route on USGS maps, you'll need both the Mount Jackson and the Crooked Creek Pass quads, or the two Trails Illustrated maps listed. Also, Gary Neben has an alternate approach to Gold Dust from Nolan Creek and the Fulford road. You may also want to consider that approach. Check out the link to Mountain Handbook we provide.

    From the trailhead as described, proceed along the relatively flat path for a good 2.5 miles where the trail finally gains some elevation more quickly and then continue on the trail up to a meadow with a small stream coming down from the east that drains Negro Basin below Gold Dust Peak. This is about 3.5 miles in. It should be pointed out that the old survey map shows Gold Dust as being 13,365 ft. high, but G&M and others list it as 13,380 ft. The reason is that the western summit is definitely higher than the eastern one of 13,365 marked on the USGS map, so the western summit elevation has been interpolated to be 13,380 ft. After passing by the unnamed lake at 10,820 ft., begin hiking east into Negro Basin by staying on the south side of the small stream that flows out of the basin and following faint game trails that will enable you to avoid most obstacles.

    In the upper basin, when you are clear of the trees, pause to study a route up Gold Dust. The most direct route with the fewest problems would be to hike north across the basin and gain the broad, southwest facing flank of the mountain and follow the rounded ridge to the summit. There is a stark contrast between the beautiful basin filled with lush grass and scattered trees to the completely rocky flank. Though there is some tundra to follow, once you begin to ascend out of the basin, most of the remainder of the route will be on medium sized, broken rocks for the next 1,400 feet. On the way you may pass some interesting deposits of quartz and a few crystals, but otherwise, it's just a long slugfest. If you want some assurance you've climbed the peak, go ahead and cross over to the eastern summit. If you're determined to head over to Pika by the connecting ridge, you'll need to go over anyhow. It's just some more minor clambering around but Google Earth seems to confirm the assumption that the west summit is higher.

    The view from the summit looks right down upon New York Lake, a highly photogenic place that's seldom visited. You can also scope out the connecting ridge over to Pika and see if you want to attempt or if weather will allow. If you don plan to do the ridge, then be sure and follow the link to Gary Neben's report on Mountain Handbook. He rates the ridge as an extended Class 3. Otherwise, start returning back down the west ridge of Gold Dust and drop back into Negro Basin. Gold Dust Peak also has an interesting history in that in 1997 a military jet crashed into the north face of this peak. This summit also marked the 500th 13er ascent for Fred Askins, who accompanied us on this trip.


    Additional BETA

    Links to other information, routes & trip reports for this peak that may be helpful.
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