(G & M: #477)
Hayden Mountain, South
Hayden Mountain South is part of the larger designation for Hayden Mountain which in the USGS map extends more than two miles. Hayden South is usually combined with Hayden North, so in our report here, they are sequenced. A difficult and extended ridge connects these two ranked summits. To keep the route at a Class 2 level, our description calls for descending into the headwaters of Fall Creek, then re-ascending to gain Hayden North. The trailhead access is located along US550 near Ironton, so it is accessible to all passenger vehicles. Superb scenery and some wildlife viewing accompany this hike.
Hayden Mtn. South via Full Moon Gulch Route
RT From Ironton Park TH:
From Ouray, drive south on US550, up the switchbacks out of town, through the Uncompahgre Gorge, and up the four switchbacks into Ironton Park - a surprisingly large, flat valley area that extends for over two miles. Driving south, the Hayden Mountains will be on your right (west). Though it's not very visible from the highway, there's a road that extends all along the west side of Ironton Park that goes in and out of trees and stays right at the base of the mountains and on the edge of the open meadow. This route will utilize that road.
Drive to the south end of Ironton Park and the very large tailings pond where a secondary, gravel road turns off to the right to access Gray Copper Gulch and Corkscrew Gulch. About 1,200 feet beyond that road, there's a pullout on the right (west) side of the highway with an old cabin. See coordinates below. Park here for the trailhead.
There are no national forest campgrounds along US550 between Ouray and the turnoff near Silverton for South Mineral Creek. There are however, a number of primitive sites, many of which are fully occupied on weekends. The previously mentioned road that turns off for access to Gray Copper and Corkscrew Gulches leads to a nice camping area in the trees with a number of sites. These tend to be occupied by trailer rigs.
If you drive south from the trailhead about 2,000 feet, there's a dirt road that turns off on the left and drops down into the river floodplain. There are numerous sites all through here as well. There are also a few other primitive sites along US550 as it departs Ironton Park heading south. YOu can also find some primitve sites off the highway near the summit of Red Mountain Pass.
Click thumbnail to view full-size photo + caption
Year Climbed: 2007
From the trailhead parking, locate the road that heads off NE, then north to parallel the west side of Ironton Park. Generally, the road stays in the trees, just above the meadow. After walking north for less than 15 minutes, veer off onto an old mining road climbing west up the steep hillside. For a short time, this road is an assist, but it plays out near Full Moon Gulch. When it does, struggle west up the gulch, above the creek, on a very steep hillside with loose scree before reaching firmer footing several hundred feet up. Eventually break out of the trees and into the open basin of Full Moon Gulch where you will be southeast of Hayden Mountain South. We spotted some elk grazing in this basin and a deer or two. Proceed northwest toward a steep gully coming off the northeast flank of Hayden South. Hike toward the base of the gully and begin the steep ascent. Along the way up, we paused for a while to observe a deer in a parallel gully that was watching us closely. Continue the steep hike up mostly tundra toward the summit of Hayden. The basin we ascended out of was mostly free of snow, as was most of our route. The 2007 winter had not been a heavy snow year in these parts. In heavier snow years, you may find some larger snowfields left in here and an ice axe may be useful.
The gully we used brought us out near and to the left (south) of Pt. 13,009. Hike on SW to the actual summit. From here, we could see that if we had come in from the Richmond Pass trail and then up the south ridge of Hayden, it would not have been that difficult. In fact, two men we met later this day confirmed that to us. In retrospect, we should have used this Richmond Pass trail. It would have saved a lot of struggling up Full Moon Gulch. The start of that trail is a little difficult to locate. There are apparently two possible starting points for it, with both coming out on US550 not too far past the trailhead we have posted for this route. If you wish to try the Richmond Pass trail, here are two possible coordinate sets for a start: 1. N 37° 55' 57' W 107° 41' 04" 2. N 37° 56' 06" W 107° 40' 51".
Links to other information, routes & trip reports for this peak that may be helpful.
"We all agree that forgiveness is a beautiful idea until we have to practice it." C. S. Lewis