A more rocky and challenging peak than it's nearby neighbor - Taylor Peak with some interesting boulder scrambling as you approach the summit. Pre-Lidar elevation was 13,521.
From the center of the Town of Gunnison, drive north on HWY 135 to Almont. Turn right onto road 742 and continue to Taylor Park Reservoir on pavement. When you arrive at the intersection just east of the reservoir, turn left and continue north on 742. After the turnoff for Cottonwood Pass, the road turns to a well-maintained, graded gravel road for the next 8 or more miles to the Dorchester Campground. Continue for another five miles to the abrupt end of 742, in the headwaters of the Taylor River. Much of this last 5 miles was in 1998, still an decent road that passenger vehicles with better-than-average-clearance could drive.
There are numerous small forest service campgrounds between Almont and Taylor Park. You can count 8 of them on the Gunnison NF map. From the reservoir north, there are another 4, plus numerous opportunities to turn off somewhere and primitive camp. You can also camp right at the end of the road, and in the last two miles before the end, there are several primitive sites along the south side of the road.
From the end of FR742, hike NNW, directly up the forested slope until you intersect a 4WD road that runs generally NE to SW. This bushwhack will involve crossing numerous dead trees, logs etc. This road you intersect is FR761.1D and ties in with FR761 near the summit of Taylor Pass. If you've kept the unnamed creek that drains the basin above to your left and within earshot, then you should be able to walk a short distance either left or right on this 4WD road and spot another track heading off to the NW. This little road soon ends at the remains of an old cabin after it crosses the creek. The small pond that shows on the USGS map at 11,480 ft., seems to no longer exist when you examine this area on Google Earth.
From the remains of the old cabin, continue hiking in open country to the NNW, following the west side of the stream course. In about a 3/4 mile after crossing FR761.1D, you should be arriving at the foot of the broad NE ridge of Taylor Peak. Turn west and begin to ascend up the moderately steep ridge over mostly tundra and continue the Class 2 hiking as the ridge heads more to the SW. A few hundred feet below the summit, don't be surprised when the tundra gives way to rock and rubble. All good things must come to an end. But now, the summit is within site. Strong hikers can make this ascent in 2.5 hours or less, others may plan a more leisurely 3 to 3.5 hours. Return by a similar route to make this an easy half day hike.
For dedicated peakbaggers: From the summit of Taylor, continue over to Star Peak. This will turn your half day hike into a 3/4 day hike and will offer the challenges of rocky boulder fields and/or ridges. See the write up for Star Peak for more details.
This route description begins with a climb of Taylor Peak. See the route description for that peak first. The description for Star begins from the summit of Taylor. One-way mileage and elevation gain are measured from the summit of Taylor.
From the summit of Taylor Peak, hike SSW along the ridge crest to about the 12,800 foot contour. Make a decision here. Option #1: You can continue on down the ridge, negotiating a steep, rocky section, to the first saddle and then climb up over 200 feet in elevation as you continue following the ridge to a minor high point. From that high point, descend again, losing about 300 feet to the next saddle. Next, re-climb another 300 feet to continue along the ridge. This time, you'll regain about 550 feet. After you pass the 13,135 marker, the ridge turns into a jumbled mass of rocky spires and outcrops, followed by a deep gash. (Good luck here. We have no idea how easy or difficult this section is.) Keep following the ridge until it turns south toward the Star summit, losing yet another 200 feet in elevation before gaining the final 400 to the summit.
Option #2: If you don't like option #1 with all the ups and downs and rock obstacles along the way, then here's a better alternative. Back at the suggested point of decision, descend south off the ridge for 400 feet elevation on a tundra swath, then turn SW and contour around a minor ridge and below cliffs into a large basin east of the Star summit, that's mostly a rock glacier. Overall, you'll lose about 600 feet from the point of decision. Hike and scramble your way across the boulder field aiming for the saddle north of the Star summit. From the saddle, turn south and hike and scramble over lichen-covered boulders and rocks to the summit. When we climbed this summit, it was raining much of that day and the lichen-covered rocks were banana-peel slick. Though crossing the rock glacier and following it up to the saddle is tedious and not much fun, this is still a better alternative than trying to follow the ridge all the way over from Taylor, in our humble opinion.
For Star alone, we would suggest hiking SW on trail #582 until just before it begins to climb up south above the Taylor River. Leave the trail, cross the river and hike on the west side of the drainage that comes down from the large basin east of Star. Once on the rock glacier, follow the hiking directions in Option #2 above.
For a return route, descend north back along the north ridge of Star, descend east back into the rock glacier and then SE to exit the basin and get onto some tundra. Stay on the west side of the developing drainage and hike down through increasing trees all the way back down to the Taylor River. Cross the "river" (mostly a nice creek here) and pick up the forest trail # 582 that will lead back to the end of the road and your parked vehicle. You can also try picking up the FR761.1D after you exit the rock glacier basin and follow that road back as it contours between 11,800 and 11,600 feet to where you first intersected it as you headed up from the parking area to climb Taylor.