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San Juan National Forest Re-opened

The Stage 3 fire and access restrictions to the San Juan National Forest have been rolled back to a Stage 2 condition which means access to the forest is once more open to the public. However, fire conditions still remain high and we are currently in the middle of a strong heat wave. Consult current regulations with the San Juan NF before planning any trips. Fines for violations are significant. 

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LoJ: #397 (G & M: #399) UN 13300 P 3/UN13300 D

Range › San Juan Range
Quadrangle › Columbine Pass
Summit Location › Peak Route Icon N 37° 37' 31.48", W 107° 30' 10.88 (Not Field Checked)

Peak Summary

Note: LoJ provides a name of P 3 for this summit as does Roach.  G&M identifies this as UN 13300 D.

UN13,300 D is a rocky summit with an unpleasant approach in the heart of the Weminuche Wilderness. It is a Class 3 scramble at a minimum with some exposure and may possibly deserve a Class 4 rating. The closest trailhead is the Bear Creek/Kite Lake access from Stony Pass or Rio Grande Reservoir. 4WD/high clearance required for this. In addition, a significant backpack trip is likely. Most peakbaggers will want to combine this summit with numerous other 13ers in the area of Rock Lake, hence a multi-day backpack.

UN 13,300 D South Ridge Route

Class 4
backpacker icon + Peak Icon
Backpack + Medium Day
RT From Bear Creek/Hunchback Pass/Kite Lake: 26.8 mi / 8,075'
RT From Rock Lake: 7 mi / 3,275'
  • Trailhead
    • Bear Creek/Hunchback Pass/Kite Lake Trailhead

      WARNING: This trail head approach REQUIRES 4WD with good ground clearance. The drive as described below from Silverton may take up to 2.5 hours.

      From the Town of Silverton, and where the main road splits at the NE end of town, drive 4.2 miles NE up along the Animas River on blue-signed County Road 2 to Howardsville. Turn right onto FR589 up Cunningham Gulch and stay right at the turn for the "Old Mine Tour" (4.4 miles) but do take the left fork toward Stony Pass (FR737) at 5.9miles. Once on the Stony Pass Road, expect 4W conditions. The road climbs steeply to the pass. Abundant wildflowers as you approach the pass may delay you. Once across the pass, the road becomes FR520 and eventually leads to Rio Grande Reservoir, but you will not drive that far. The road eventually descends down the valley to a low water crossing of Pole Creek. Watch out for the steep embankment climb out on the other side if the road is wet from rains. You could easily slip off the edge. After the crossing, continue south for about a mile to another fork where you'll turn right (west). Another long, low water crossing is found here across the Rio Grande River. This crossing is usually more shallow than the Pole Creek, but the closer you are to runoff season, the more difficult these crossings will be.

      It is also possible to come into this area from either Creede or Lake City over Slumgullion and Spring Pass to Rio Grande Reservoir. From state highway 149 either about 20.5 miles from Creede or 32 miles from Lake City, turn west onto FS520 and drive all the way to the reservoir on the well-signed, graded dirt road. Passenger cars can make it all the way to the "Lost Trail Campground" at the far west end of the reservoir. Beyond that point, FR520 continues west and crosses some rugged sections before connecting with the other section of FR520 coming down from Stony Pass and the low-water crossing of the Rio Grande. We have never driven in all the way on this section and from those we know who have, they have complained about one particularly difficult stretch.

      From the Rio Grande crossing, continue up what is now, the Beartown Road for a slow 7 miles (mainly because of potholes). The road goes all the way to Kite Lake at about 12,100 ft., but the Hunchback Pass trailhead is about 1/2 mile below the lake. There's a trail sign there and some very limited parking is available. Note: There was a fairly difficult section of road around the Beartown site due to muddy potholes.

      As the road begins climbing more steeply toward Kite Lake and the Hunchback trailhead, it becomes quite a bit more rocky in that stretch as well.  If you have driven in here to do the Ute Ridge group of summits, camp in the vicinity of where the road crosses Bear Creek just past the old Beartown site. See coordinates below. From that creek crossing, it's not quite .3 mile to the trailhead for Ute Ridge, which is a jeep track that turns off to the left and drops down to cross another lesser fork of Bear Creek. Park somewhere along this track if heading for Ute Ridge. On the Caltopo map, this trail is called the "Bear Town Trail" and designated FR869. On trails Illustrated Map #140, it does not appear to have a designation.  Coordinates for this road & trailhead are: N 37° 42' 54.53"  W 107° 30' 35.00"


      Camping

      You can find some very limited camping spots in the immediate vicinity of the Hunchback trail head. There's one particularly good spot back down the road a fairly short distance on the south side. There's also some good camping back toward the Beartown site. See coordinates provided.


      Campsite Locations

      Beartown Campsite › N 37° 43' 05.02", W 107° 30' 35.47"
    Approach Maps Photos
    • From Bear Creek/Hunchback Pass/Kite Lake TH via Rock Lake

      • Hunchback Pass to Nebo Creek  Moderate | RT: 5.5 mi / 1,900’

        This "approach" is part of a sequence of approaches that utilize the Vallecito Trail beginning near Kite Lake and above the "Beartown" site. The trailhead is located at: N37° 42' 44.57"  W 107° 31' 04.97". Use the "Beartown/Kite Lake/Hunchback trailhead information for instructions on how to drive to the TH.

        The trailhead is actually within the Rio Grande National Forest. The TH number is #813 on both the San Juan and older Rio Grande National Forest maps and is a part of the "Continental Divide Trail" at this location and segment. Once the trail crosses Hunchback Pass, it crosses over into San Juan National Forest and becomes #529, continuing south all the way to Vallecito Reservoir. If using Trails Illustrated #140, they identify this as the Continental Divide Trail and use the #813. Walk south from the TH and follow the easy gradient through open terrain with some willows to Hunchback Pass. The trail first sweeps SE, then makes a gradual turn SW, then west to the open, tundra-covered pass with about 900 feet of gain over just under a mile. Coordinates for the pass are: N 37° 42' 16.62"  W 107° 31' 12.37". Hunchback Mountain is west along the divide and can be easily climbed by those interested in bagging all the 13ers. You can drop your pack, stroll to the summit and return in under an hour.

        From Hunchback Pass, continue south heading straight down an unnamed fork of Vallecito Creek. The trail cuts trough plenty of willows in this section and stays on the west side of the drainage until just before the trees. Because of the numerous willows, plan on getting pants & boots drenched if it has rained recently. Also, as a general point, the Vallecito Trail is utilized regularly by pack horse groups so you can expect to see and experience some of the typical trail damage done by horses. The trail then turns to the SE and comes to an intersection. A newer trail (#813) that does not show on the 1964 USGS map heads east up Nebo Creek, crosses the Continental Divide and goes to West Ute Lake. That is the continuation of the Continental Divide Trail. The Vallecito Trail continues south and west from this intersection. Near the trail intersection, there is a very large and good campsite on a prominent knoll above Nebo Creek on the NW side. The campsite makes a good base camp for 13ers off the CD trail including Mt. Nebo, UN13,110, UN13,230, and UN13,169, all of which can be done in a single day from the campsite. See "Camping info" for more details.



        Camping

        The Nebo Creek campsite sits near the intersection of the Vallecito Trail and the Continental Divide Trail. The elevation is appx. 11,500 ft. Coordinates are below. They are something of a guess by using Google Earth, but the campsite is right off the main trail. There are several good tent spots and large logs near campfire areas. The creek is a short jaunt down the hill.

        Campsite Locations

        Nebo Creek N 37° 41' 12.36", W 107° 31' 14.88"

        Open This Approach in a New Window
      • Nebo Creek to Trinity Creek  Moderate | RT: 2.5 mi / 1,000’

        This "approach" is part of a sequence of approaches that utilize the Vallecito Trail beginning near Kite Lake and above the "Beartown" site. The trailhead is located at: N37° 42' 44.57" W 107° 31' 04.97". Use the "Beartown/Kite Lake/Hunchback trailhead information for instructions on how to drive to the TH.

        From the Nebo Creek campsite and the trail junction of the Continental Divide Trail #813 and the Vallecito Trail #529, head south down the Vallecito Trail. The trail swings to the west through forest, staying well above Nebo Creek and then makes an abrupt turn back to the south to cross Nebo Creek. We have usually found this crossing to be a little difficult and somewhat intimidating. The water is swift and nearby the stream heads over the beginning of a waterfall. Sometimes there are logs you can walk across on and other times, there's little help. You may have to wade.

        After crossing Nebo Creek, continue downhill, through a series of switchbacks and at 1.25 miles from the Nebo campsite, you should come to an open meadow on the right (west) side of the trail and see a secondary trail heading over to a crossing of Vallecito Creek, below where Trinity Creek comes in. This meadow area is often used as a camp spot by various groups, though it tends to be a little lumpy. From this location climbers can reach The Guardian, Mt. Silex, Storm King, and Peaks Seven, Eight and Nine as day hikes/climbs. But if you're willing to lug your pack back uphill, read about other higher elevation campsites under the "approach" for those peaks.  If hiking back up to the Nebo Creek camp or back over Hunchback Pass to the trailhead, this section from Trinity Creek back to Nebo Creek is the steepest part of the return hike gaining about 1,000 feet in elevation. It is also possible to hike all the way up Trinity Creek and cross the ridge that separates the Trinity Basin from the Vestal Basin and access the Vestal Creek summits.



        Camping

        An easily identifiable trail turns west off the main Vallecito Trail and leads over to where you can cross Vallecito Creek, downstream from where Trinity Creek comes in. This trail leads across an open meadow that is frequently used as a camp location. See approximate coordinates below.

        Campsite Locations

        Trinity Creek N 37° 40' 33.01", W 107° 31' 27.89"

        Open This Approach in a New Window
      • Trinity Creek to Rock Creek  Easy | RT: 3.5 mi / 400’

        The 1.75 mile walk from the Trinity Creek camp to the crossing of Rock Creek is an easy, quick jaunt down the trail that will take under an hour with only about 400 feet in elevation loss. Though the trail starts out in forest, it crosses plenty of open valley terrain before re-entering forest for some broad switchbacks that make the final drop to the Rock Creek crossing. We have never found any useful logs to cross on here, so be prepared to wade, and at the crossing point, the stream widens out so the wade is long, but usually not challenging. If heading up to Rock Lake, you will not need to make the crossing. The Rock Lake Trail stays on the north side of Rock Creek. Vallecito Creek from the Trinity Creek intersection and heading downstream begins to offer attractive pools and stream fishing opportunities.

        The Rock Creek trail #655 provides access to Rock Lake, a seemingly popular destination for horse-pack groups. From a possible base camp location near Rock Lake, the following 13ers can be accessed, most of which are found on the Columbine Pass and Emerald Lake quads: UN13,302, Irving Peak, Peters Peak, UN13,222, UN13,220, Mount Oso, UN13,417, UN13,310, and UN13,340.



        Camping

        In past visits, we have not found very good campsites at this crossing, though you can certainly find spots to "make do." Perhaps some have developed by now. Better sites may be found south of the crossing in the open meadow area over toward Vallecito Creek.

        Open This Approach in a New Window
      • Rock Ck to Rock Lake  Moderate | RT: 8.3 mi / 1,500’

        From Rock Lake, the following summits can be easily reached: Peter's Peak, UN13,222, and UN13,220. Mt. Oso can be easily reached from either Rock or Moon Lakes. From Moon Lake, UN13,310, UN13,340, UN13,417 and Irving Peak are most easily accessible. UN13,302, which barely makes it onto the SE corner of the Storm King quad, can be accessed from a couple miles up the Rock Creek Trail. Read the route description regarding that summit for more detail. We have hiked on this trail twice - once in 1994 and then again in 2004.

         From the Vallecito Trail, the Rock Creek/Lake trail heads ESE, on the north side of Rock Creek, gaining some 900 feet in elevation steadily but not too steeply the first mile and a quarter. It then enters an open valley at about 11,100 ft. still following on the north side of the creek and staying close to but not in the trees. Through this open valley section, the elevation gain is gentle. The trail is well-established and frequently used by pack horse groups. The first meadow section ends soon followed by a longer meadow stretch. Rock Creek meanders its way through this meadow with a few "tree islands" in the middle of the meadow toward its upper end. Granite rocks along the valley floor have been planed off by long-past glacial action leaving large slabs exposed. There are many camping opportunities along the meadow stretches, though we saw few established camps and those we saw were used primarily by the pack horse groups. One of the "tree islands" had a good campsite. Buffalo Peak makes a dramatic, sharp-pointed appearance towards the head of the valley and dominates the view. In 1994, there was a trail fork at 11,480 feet just before a crossing of Rock Creek. Stay right for Rock Lake and cross the creek if that fork is still there. The more recent Trails Illustrated map shows this fork higher up and closer to Rock Lake now. Finish the hike and last elevation gain to Rock Lake on fairly gentle switchbacks. A little before exiting the trees in this switchback section, there was a tree-covered ridge sloping back down toward the valley on the left side of the trail and on the south side of Rock Creek that offered some very attractive campsites. (This is about 10 - 15 minutes walking below the lake.) This would be the last opportunity for tree camping before the lake.

        Rock Lake is a beautiful and large alpine lake that sits nestled in a bowl at the foot of Peters Peak. It is surrounded by willows and grassy meadows which may obscure the trail. The best camping is back down the trail as we described.



        Open This Approach in a New Window
    Peak Icon Route Map Photos

    Route Info UN 13,300 D South Ridge

    Route Description

    Year Climbed: 2004

    Both UN 13,302 and UN 13,300 may be climbed from a shared saddle. The access is from the Rock Creek trail. There is no "easy" way to access this saddle and no trail to utilize other than game. We have one ascent route we used and then a different descent route that could also be used for ascending to the basin in between the two summits. The first starting point is where we came out on our descent. It was 1.5 mile from the Rock Creek/Vallecito Trail intersection, at the beginning of the first open meadow at about 11,060 ft. The second staring point is about .45 mile farther up the Rock Creek trail at the 11,200 ft. contour.

    For the first starting point, as you arrive in the open meadow you can see somewhat up in the direction of the basin between UN13,302 and UN 13,300 by looking south. To gain that basin, you'll need to head south and cross Rock Creek. There are willows to contend with. There's also a large open rock slab area that may expedite reaching the creek. (See Google Earth.) Once across, there will be yet more willows and then you'll enter the forest and begin the steep, uphill thrash through the trees to reach the basin. We found numerous game trails, weaving through the trees and working around hidden cliffs, one of which proved to be more consistently used, hence easier to follow. Google Earth reveals plenty of downed trees but does not show the numerous cliffs we encountered. There will be about 700 feet of gain to get above the trees and into the lower end of the basin. Once out of the trees, you can begin to chart your own course to the saddle, but our path took us by two small tarns - one noted on the USGS map at 12,023 ft. and another smaller one above that, reached by contouring up and around a hillside. To that point, much of your work will still involve tundra, but beyond the second tarn, the basin is a rock-filled glacier. Just chart the best path you can to the saddle at the head of the basin. No matter how you go, it will be a tedious, boulder-hopping hike with many a rock tumbling away below you. If you arrive at the saddle without injury, offer thanks, but the battle is not over.

     The second starting point, about .45 mile more up valley, also crosses Rock Creek. Careful search can yield a line of trees to take you over the creek without getting too bogged down in willows. This second crossing is near the west end of the second, much longer meadow. Once across the creek, head SE, staying below bands of cliffs, angling your way up to shelf through the trees. Follow the shelf SE just below a cliff band, and cross a creek that drains the much larger unnamed lake at the foot of UN 13,300. Swing upward through the cliffs at a narrow cleft, scramble up a very steep and loose slope for about 200 feet until it begins to moderate. Though the terrain is less steep, it's still almost all a field of rock to the unnamed lake. Beyond the lake, gain a low ridge/saddle and UN13,302 will come into view. Enter the vast boulder field and head toward the saddle, joining the other approach route.

    From the saddle, follow the west ridge of the peak eastward where it will join the south ridge coming from PT. 13,180. From here, head north. Sounds easy, but it's not. Our own notes about this ridge are sketchy and described by us as "the rock was never forgiving and we struggled against it all the way. It was all a pile of steep, loose boulders and rubble and all of quartzite." As we approached the summit we found a difficult assortment of choppy cliffs, boulders and blocks that thwarted our progress to the summit. On LoJ, "Furthermore" (aka Derek Wolfe) gives a more detailed account, citing two false summits, 3rd class terrain, a "knife edge" near the first false summit on solid rock & exposed, and a brief 4th class spot to navigate marked with an old piece of webbing (not ours). Neither we nor "Furthermore" used rope for this. Since he approached from the south (the saddle between UN 13,300 and Pt. 13,180) and we approached from along the west ridge, we may have avoided the so-called "knife edge." He describes the 4th class section as the "crux" but not too exposed. See the link below to his report. We may have intersected the ridge beyond these obstacles because we made no note of any 4th class section.  

    https://www.listsofjohn.com/tr?Id=1419&pkid=492

    Again, if you arrive without injury, offer thanks, then begin your descent, most likely by the same path as your ascent. Overall, the first approach we offer is probably the best and easiest, though there's really nothing easy about it.

    It was also mentioned that from the saddle west of UN13,300, you can also ascend UN13,302. So here's a description of that. It should be noted that "Furthermore's" report link above also discusses this same approach. From the saddle between the two summits, walk west along the ridge, hiking (or tripping) over the endless piles of quartzite rock. This type of rock is abundant in this part of the Weminuche and we find it more difficult to handle. 500 feet of gain will bring you to the false, south summit. If you don't think it's been too bad to here - just wait until you see what's next. The small false summit had a little tundra, but what lies beyond is not comforting. The flat summit gives way to a knife edge ridge. On the east side, it drops off on highly tilting slabs of solid quartzite rock for 150 feet or more. You'll be standing at the head of a split couloir. On the other side of the knife edge, it drops away very steeply for several hundred feet in a broken array of rocks, small ledges and scree in multiple, deep gullies. Pick your poison. At this point, we admit to turning back. We did not feel we could navigate the slabs without rope & protection and with an approaching storm, we did not want to be caught in the steep terrain on the west side, which also appeared dangerous if wet. As for staying directly on the knife edge, after about 50 feet, it rose abruptly about 10 - 12 feet and was only about a foot wide at that point. It too appeared to be best approached with rope & protection. Furthermore apparently navigated his way past by a significant descent into the gullies first, then a chilling upclimb. See his report. But we also have vague reports from both Jack Dais and Jennifer Roach of having done the peak this way several years before and they did not recall the knife edge we describe here. Go figure. If you can make it past the knife edge, then the summit is attainable, but still a rocky scramble.


    Additional BETA

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