LoJ: #202 (G & M: #201) UN 13580 UN 13580 A

Range › San Juan Range
Quadrangle › Pole Creek Mtn.
Summit Location › Peak Route Icon N 37° 50' 16.27", W 107° 25' 04.52" (Not Field Checked)

Peak Summary

An easy, family-friendly summit that could be done as a day-hike or as a multi-day backpack to a base camp with multiple 13ers within day-hiking range.

Northwest Slopes Route

Class 1
Medium Day // Take a Lunch
RT From Carson Pass TH: 12 mi / 3,100'
  • Trailhead
    • Carson Pass TH

      Most of the 13er summits on the Pole Creek Mountain quad and the Finger Mesa quad can be most easily accessed from one of two trailheads, both off of County Road 3, south of Lake City and Lake San Cristobal. The first TH is Carson Pass at the head of Wager Gulch. This access requires 4WD with good clearance. The drive in is followed by walking the Colorado/Continental Divide Trail west. There is minor elevation gain and loss and no more than 4 miles of hiking/backpacking. The other trailhead is accessible to passenger cars, but requires more elevation gain (2,500 ft.) on foot. That access utilizes the Cataract Gulch Trail from near "Sherman." It's about a 4.5 mile hike/backpack up to Cataract Lake for a base camp. We used the Wager Gulch/Carson Pass access, hence our trip reports will be based on that as the start point. Peaks accessed in this manner include: Coney BM; UN13,260 D; Bent Peak; Carson Peak; "Tundra Top;" Cataract Peak; Half Peak; UN13,674; UN13,581; UN13,580 A; UN13,660; and Pole Creek Mtn. For information regarding the Cataract Gulch TH, you can find that by searching for that trailhead. We have never actually hiked that trail except in the vicinity of Cataract Lake. Our route descriptions for many of these peaks should be usable regardless of which TH you choose with the exception perhaps of Bent, Coney BM and UN 13,260 D.

      Wager Gulch/Carson Pass

      From the Town of Lake City, drive south on SH149 and then turn right onto CR3 (BLM 3306) to Lake San Cristobal. Trails Illustrated labels this road as CR30. The road is paved past the lake then turns to graded dirt, passable for all passenger cars. About 2 miles past the Williams Creek campground, watch for a road turning off to the left (south) for the old townsite of Carson. This road is identified on maps as either BLM3308 or FS568. it's also called the "Wager Gulch" road. From this point on, 4WD is advisable.

      From the Town of Lake City, drive south on SH149 and then turn right onto CR3 (BLM 3306) to Lake San Cristobal. Trails Illustrated labels this road as CR30. The road is paved past the lake then turns to graded dirt, passable for all passenger cars. About 2 miles past the Williams Creek campground, watch for a road turning off to the left (south) for the old townsite of Carson. This road is identified on maps as either BLM3308 or FS568. it's also called the "Wager Gulch" road. From this point on, 4WD is advisable.

      Head up the road through aspen and conifer forest. At times, the road climbs steeply, but generally is not too rocky or in very poor condition. Along the drive up, there are a few primitive campsites. The road is fairly easy driving to the old townsite of Carson. Beyond there, it works its way up to Carson Pass through areas of willows and becomes quite rocky in stretches. If you're not comfortable with driving this last part, park down near Carson and walk this last mile. From the summit of the pass and the coordinates provided above, you can begin your hike or backpack. In previous years, it was possible to continue driving south on a 4WD track for another half mile to where you would actually connect with the Colorado trail. Those coordinates are: N 37° 50' 52.67 W 107° 22' 06.06". Elevation here is 12,150 ft. so you've dropped down from the pass a little.


      Camping

      There are designated, Forest Service campgrounds at Lake San Cristobal, Williams Creek and Mill Creek (which is past the Wager Gulch turnoff). On the drive up Wager Gulch, we observed a few nice, primitive sites at some level locations.

    Peak Icon Route Map Photos

    Route Info Northwest Slopes

    Route Description

    Year Climbed: 1992

    From Cataract Lake, hike south to a saddle just east of the 12,504' marker about a half mile south of the lake. From the saddle, head east on the Colorado trail briefly, then turn SE on easy tundra-covered slopes to the summit. Return by the same route or drop directly west from the summit to a pass, then turn back to the north on a trail to rejoin your earlier approach. Some willows.  

    If accessing this area by Carson Pass, from either Carson Pass, or a half mile to the south from the pass, you want to connect with the Colorado Trail and head west. The trail drops down in elevation some toward Lost Trail Creek, then easily regains elevation to a non-descript, tundra pass that separates the Lost Trail drainage from the Pole Creek drainage. If you're backpacking in, we found a good campsite location about one mile west of this pass in the open tundra, on a bench not far from an overlook of Cataract Lake. Warning: There may be a large herd of domestic sheep grazing in this area.

    If approaching from Carson Pass on the Colorado Trail, you could begin an ascent from the broad saddle that divides the Pole Creek drainage from the Lost Trail drainage. Head directly south along an easy, broad ridge, bypassing the 13,552 unranked summit and continuing another 3/4 mile south to the finish. Mostly tundra or chiprock.

    If returning from Pole Creek Mtn. to the Colorado Trail, there's a low pass between UN13,580 A and a soft rank summit (13,000 ft.) west of 13,580 A. At that pass, you should connect with a trail coming up out of West Lost Trail Creek. From that pass, you can hike on easy tundra terrain to the summit of UN13,580 A in less than an hour. Return back to the same pass and trail or follow the very broad NW ridge back to the Colorado trail. Mostly tundra & chiprock.

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