Kendall Mountain is one of those summits that you can make as easy or as difficult as you want. With 4WD and good clearance, one can jeep to within a short distance of the summit and make a very short, Class 1 hike to the top from Kendall Gulch, a moderate 4WD road directly out of Silverton. Without 4WD, you have a long walk from Silverton with a fair amount of elevation gain. To make the peak more sporting, even if you have 4WD, you may want to park at a lower elevation to begin the hike. Kendall Mountain may also be paired with Kendall Peak and Kendall #2, which in 2022 became another ranked 13er because Lidar elevation study indicated this summit had more than 300 feet prominence from the saddle between it and Kendall Mtn. We have not done this combination since we have routed Kendall Peak from the Highland Mary Lakes region. Pre-Lidar elevation was 13,340 ft.
Kendall Mountain from Kendall Gulch Route
Short Day // A Wee Little Climb
RT From Kendall Mountain:
From the intersection west of Silverton on US550, drive on northeast into town to East 14th St. This is one block before the courthouse. Turn right and drive SE to a "Y" intersection just across the Animas River. Park out of the way at this intersection. This is the "lower" trailhead for those with passenger vehicle only. Coordinates are: N 37° 48' 39.66" W 107° 39' 31.55". If you have to hike from here, total round-trip mileage will be 11 miles and elevation gain will be 4,040 feet.
For those with higher clearance or 4WD vehicles, you may continue to drive to an upper trailhead. The last time we drove this road was in 2002. At that time, we had no problem at all driving all the way up to a switchback at 12,260 ft. in a Jeep Cherokee. The road was in generally good condition and it took us about a half hour from the lower trailhead. It has been our observation that this road is a popular jeeping route which means it receives a lot of use. You may want to inquire in town as to its overall condition now before heading up. The switchback at 12,260 ft. is what we are calling the "upper trailhead." Coordinates are: N 37° 47' 19.55" W 107° 37' 49.53". A hike from here is Class 1. To make the hike a little more sporting, there's a good place to park at a switchback at tree line at 11,475 ft. Coordinates are: N 37° 47' 05.04" W 107° 38' 27.41".
There is no camping in Silverton. The closest campgrounds are up South Mineral Creek or up toward Molas Pass. Campgrounds near Molas Pass include the Molas Lake Campground Park operated by the Town of Silverton (located right on Molas Lake) and the Little Molas Lake Campground, a fee site operated by the forest service. Both up the Molas Pass road (US550) and the South Mineral Creek Road ( FR585) you can find a number of primitive sites, all of which tend to completely fill up on summer weekends.
Year Climbed: 2002
From our suggested "upper trailhead" hike directly uphill toward the first saddle west of the Kendall summit. The initial going is steep on low tundra. When you arrive at the saddle turn right and walk to the summit along the western ridge crest, but staying on the south side to avoid initial difficulties. About half way up this west ridge, the tundra gives way to scree & rubble, but there's nothing difficult. Time to summit will probably be about an hour unless the kids are slowing you down.
From the lower trailhead across the Animas in Silverton, total walking distance via the Kendall Mountain Road will be 5.5 miles with 4,040 feet of elevation gain making this more of a Class 2 hike up.
To descend, while you've made all this effort to get here, why not head west along the ridge and hike over to UN 13,073 (Kendall #2)? The ridge hike is not difficult and is mostly on tundra and scree, but the saddle is rugged and you may want to skirt around on the south side when ascending Kendall #2. There are a few rocky obstacles to avoid, but again, nothing difficult. North of the top of Kendall #2 there are what appear to be some communication structures. From there, drop back to the first saddle to the west, drop down a little and pick up remnants of a rocky road that will take you back to the Kendall saddle and the upper trailhead. Expect a little scree depending on how you choose to come off Kendall #2. The upper jeep road is very rocky. This little detour will add just under 300 feet of elevation gain and another 1.75 mile to the hike. If you parked at the mid-way trailhead near tree line, the trip back still goes quickly. If you have to walk all the way back to Silverton, you may want to attempt hitch-hiking, otherwise, the road walk offers plenty of vehicle dust to eat.
Links to other information, routes & trip reports for this peak that may be helpful.
Mountain Handbook ›
(Requires free registration & login to view)
"The wonderful arrangement and harmony of the cosmos would only originate in the plan of an almighty omniscient being. This is and remains my greatest comprehension." Sir Isaac Newton