LoJ: #274 (Pre-LiDAR #286) / 13,480' San Joaquin Ridge

Range › San Juan Range
Quadrangle › Telluride
Summit Location › Peak Route Icon N 37° 52' 37.15", W 107° 48' 30.13" (Not Field Checked)

Peak Summary

San Joaquin Ridge offers a steep Class 2+ route from just outside of the town of Ophir. Outstanding views. Lidar measurements added 20 feet of elevation.

San Joaquin Ridge West & South Ridge Access Route

Class 2
Medium Day // Take a Lunch
RT From San Juaquin S and W Ridge: 4mi / 3,350'
  • Trailhead
    • San Juaquin S and W Ridge TH

      From "Society Junction" 4 miles west of Telluride, drive south on SH145 and take the turnoff for Ophir. Drive east to the town and then continue east on FR630 (the Ophir Pass Road) to the coordinates provided. There is an old mining road that switchbacks up the mountainside to the old "Carbonero Mine" at about 11,450 ft. None of our maps ( USGS quad, Trails Illustrated, Uncompahgre NF) seem to agree on the exact location of this road and we have not been there since 1996, so you may have to do a little research on your own. The coordinates we've provided were taken from Google Earth and shows a road heading NE up through trees that at least eventually ties in with the road up to the mine. The USGS quad and Trails Illustrated maps show another road coming in from just out of Ophir and joining the track to the mine. In 1996, we could never find this access, so we drove east up FR630 to a little ways past the turnoff for Swamp Canyon and located a 4WD track that took us all the way to the mine where we parked. The Uncompahgre NF map does not show this road at all, so it may be closed, at least to vehicle traffic.

      An article in a 2014 May edition of the Telluride Daily Planet indicates that the Colorado Division of Reclamation Mining and Safety was calling for bids to help mitigate the water coming from the mine that has in the past caused tailings to spill down and over the Ophir Pass road. Glenn Pauls is the owner of the property and has accumulated over 1,100 acres in old mining claims in hopes of an eventual trade with the National Forest Service. All this suggests that access to the mine may be closed. If so, San Joaquin and Silver Mtn. may be accessed by two other possibilities: 1. Trails Illustrated and the USGS quad both indicate an old road that heads north out of Ophir to the Gertrude Mine. The ridge off the east side of Straatsburg Basin could then provide a means of accessing the east-west ridge that connects Silver Mtn. and San Joaquin Ridge. 2. About a half mile east of the turnoff for Swamp Canyon on FR630, there's a trailhead for FR508.1A which leads across the ridge, dumping hikers into the head of Bridal Veil Basin. It crosses the ridge just east of Pt.13,432. From there, you could hike west along the ridge crest to the true summit of San Joaquin Ridge.


      While there are no designated Forest Service campgrounds near Ophir along FR630, there are a limited number of primitive sites where you may be able to vehicle camp overnight. Be aware of private property issues. Back north along SH145, there's the "Sunshine" campground about two miles back from the Ophir turnoff.

    Peak Icon Route Map Photos

    Route Info San Joaquin Ridge West & South Ridge Access

    Route Description

    Year Climbed: 1996

    Note: We're working with two assumptions here - the first being that you don't have a high clearance 4WD available and the second being that driving to the Carbonero Mine is no longer allowed but walking in is. Total mileage and elevation gain reflects these assumptions.

    From the trailhead coordinates provided, try to locate and follow the old road up to the Carbonero Mine. If able to drive, park at a flat area near the mine at about 11,450 ft. From the mine, the old road does continue up the ridge a little further, but at some point, you might as well abandon the road and hike directly up the steep ridge and follow it all the way to Pt.13,446. Above the mine, hiking continues at first on grass with a few trees, then tundra that eventually gives way to scree and rocks. A little below the point, there are some minor cliff bands to work through and things steepen up even more. At Pt.13,446, you might assume you've arrived at the San Joaquin summit until you look east. About 1/3 mile away, there's an obviously higher "true" summit with an extrapolated elevation.

    Hike over to the true summit along the ridge crest, losing about 250 vertical feet in the process that you'll have to regain. There will be more rocks to walk over and another minor cliff band to break through near the summit. Admire the rugged and dramatic "San Joaquin Ridge" that protrudes north into the headwaters of Bear Creek. The lower portion of the Bear Creek drainage is ringed by prominent cliffs. The upper basin is a tundra paradise ringed by rocky peaks and ridges. If this is your only peak for the day, either return by the same route or drop directly south from the summit and then work your way back over to the Carbonero Mine and continue on down to the start. Otherwise, see the directions for Silver Mountain which lies west along the ridge and add an interesting challenge to your day.

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