LoJ: #610 (Pre-LiDAR #612) / 13,043' "V 7" Previously UN 13042

Range › San Juan Range
Quadrangle › Silverton
Summit Location › Peak Route Icon N 37° 46' 54.35", W 107° 45' 00.37" (Not Field Checked)

Peak Summary

Note: "V 7" designation appears in 1932 SJM Climbers Guide. V.7/UN13,043 is a relatively easy Class 2 day hike if you have 4WD to get a couple miles up South Mineral Creek from the South Mineral CG. If you do not have the clearance vehicle necessary to drive in that direction, additional walking will add at least four more mils to this trip by the route we describe. The hike will take you across beautiful, wildflower meadows and you will find the tundra areas laced with elk trails. The trail we suggest using for this hike does not show on the San Juan NF map or the Trails Illustrated #141 or the old USGS Ophir quad or the FS Topo series. It only shows on the following: If using CalTopo, select the "MapBuilder Hybrid" option and the trail will show as a dotted red line. The only other map that we have that shows it is: "Map of the Mountains Between Silverton and Durango," published in 1999 by Drake Mountain Maps. These two map versions do not completely agree on the starting point for the trail and our coordinates are not field tested but are just a best-guess from our written description.

V.7 via Porcupine CK Route

Class 2
Medium Day // Take a Lunch
RT From South Mineral Creek South Fork: 8.8mi / 2,565'
  • Trailhead
    • South Mineral Creek South Fork TH

      Use this trailhead for: Rolling Mtn., The Twin Sisters, V.9, V.10, and as a secondary access to V.8 and Beattie.

      From the Town of Silverton and the US 550 intersection on the west side of town, drive north on US 550 and in a little over 2 miles turn west onto FR585. If coming from Ouray, drive south on US 550 over Red Mountain Pass and watch for the FR585 turnoff on your right before reaching Silverton. Drive west on this graded dirt road to the campground and trailhead parking appx. 4.7 miles in. The last mile of road gets a little rougher but should still be navigable by passenger cars.

      When you reach the campground, there will be trailhead parking on the right for the trail that accesses Ice Lake Basin and the Island Lake area. On the left will be the entrance to the CG. To continue to the South Fork of Mineral Creek TH, do not turn into the campground. Just continue straight and the road will bend to the left and will continue in a SW direction gaining elevation above the campground. The road will quickly change over to much rougher. This is where we recommend the 4WD. We have seen this road in better shape but it does receive a lot of day use during the summer months and that contributes to the wear and tear. This is FR585 on the San Juan NF map and Trails Illustrated. It usually has not been too rough or slow. Soon after exiting the trees, the road cuts across the open flank of Fuller Peak and the high tundra ridge that divides this drainage from Ice Lake Basin. Continue to the coordinates provided which will be just below the Bandora Mine and where the road divides. The right fork is closed but there's room for a couple vehicles to park. If there's no room, you may have to take the left fork down a bit to find a parking spot. Use this location if planning on doing V.9, V.8, Beattie or even V.10 (a very long haul form here.) Elevation is 10,700 ft.

      If you're wanting to do Rolling Mountain or the Twin Sisters, drive on down the left fork, cross some mud puddles and make a low water crossing of the main creek The road cuts through a swath of willows then comes to an end in a beautiful meadow (or what was if beetle kill got into here). The Rico-Silverton Trail begins here. The coordinates are: n 37° 46' 49.53" W 107° 48' 10.72". There are some good campsites right here. Elevation is 10,685 ft.


      All along FR585, once you turn off US550, there are numerous at-large, primitive sites. Upon turning off US 550 and driving less than a mile, there's a large open area on the left with a vault toilet. There are usually a large number of RV's here. There is also the South Mineral Creek Campground and before arriving at the campground, you will see a number of other camp spots. Expect fierce competition on summer weekends for sites. This is a very popular area. There is no "allowed" camping at the trail head parking area.

      Directions for South Mineral CG per San Juan NF: South Mineral Campground is accessed by turning off U.S. Highway 550, about 3 miles west of Silverton, onto Forest Rd. 585, which heads west along South Mineral Creek. The campground is 4 miles off the highway and has 26 mostly level sites. Several camping loops and well-spaced sites are mostly shaded, but some are sunny. A few are next to the creek, and some have large parking areas. The Ice Lake Basin Trail, a strenuous, steep, and popular hike, begins across the road from the campground. It leads up above timberline to high alpine lakes surrounded by meadows of wildflowers and rocky peaks. South Mineral Campground does not take reservations. All sites are first come first served. There are an assortment of designated areas along South Mineral Road where dispersed camping is allowed so there is plenty of camping in the canyon on all but the busiest days.

      Picnic tables, composting vault toilets, fire grates, trash disposal, potable water. No electricity. Operated by concessionaire. The campground has 26 sites that are mostly level, at 9,800 feet. Some sites are handicapped accessible. Several camping loops and well-spaced sites offer plenty of privacy. Spruce and fir give lots of shade, but there are some sunny sites. A few sites are along the creek, and some have large parking areas.

      Dispersed camping along Forest Rd. 585 is allowed only in designated camping areas. Please follow posted directions and instructions.

      Campsite Locations

      South Mineral CG › N 37° 48' 22.08", W 107° 46' 27.25"
      Elevation 9,855
    Peak Icon Route Map Photos

    Route Info V.7 via Porcupine CK

    Route Description

    Year Climbed: 2003

    Driving SW, up along the 4WD road SW of the South Mineral CG, watch for an old road that veers off on the right at about 10,600 ft. The trail we used for this hike was marked in 2003 by a small cairn on the side of the road at this location. It led down to the creek, losing about 100 feet, and then began climbing on the other side. This newer trail is used by the Silverton 100 as part of their route and we'll call this option #1. Another start possibility would be farther SW up the road at the point where it splits to drop down into the meadow and crosses South Mineral Ck. A trail shows on Google Earth that drops down to the main creek, crosses it, climbs back up through willows, then joins another trail, fully on the east side of the main creek and heads back to the NE. This access should get you to the trail shown on the "MapBuilder Hybrid." We'll call this option #2. At the creek, we had to take off our boots and wade across before getting underway. After climbing up about 100 yards or less, the trail joins another trail on the east side of the creek. Here are some coordinates to try: Option #1: N 37° 47' 31" W 107° 47' 36". Option #2: N 37° 47' 20" W 107° 47' 50". The main goal is to get across South Mineral Creek and then find the trail that will take you uphill to the east and eventually lead into the Porcupine Creek drainage.

    Above South Mineral Creek, the trail follows along the forest edge and begins climbing steeply along the north edge of a steep, shallow gully with no water. The steepest hiking of this trip is in this section where you will gain well over 600 feet on a series of switchbacks. Around 11,200 ft., the trail moderates some and begins to contour more, winding through the forest, crossing a minor ridge and then bringing you out into a clearing at the foot of a great, rock glacier. Continue following the trail down some to the east, crossing a flower filled basin with some water in a small stream and then contouring through more forest to a crossing of Porcupine Creek. Before this crossing, we passed through an interesting area of great boulders, covered in moss and other plants, that had fallen from cliffs far above, many ages ago.

    On the other side of Porcupine Creek, the trail climbs east, then south through a field of gorgeous flowers, mostly blue columbine, paintbrush and assorted yellow, daisy-like blooms. The trail climbs up one switchback into a small, level area, ascends another rock band and emerges at yet another large, level meadow. From here, head for the pass at 12,200 ft. on the eastern flank of Twin Sister East. The entire area is laced with elk trails, but on our hike we did not actually see any here. At the pass, pick up a well-used trail (by elk mostly) that rounds a ridge and grants access into the upper reaches of Cataract Creek. This trail is not the Colorado Trail which is a short distance to the south and downhill. You can see the two trails on the MapBuilder Hybrid. This drainage is an interesting place. The lower portion of the basin is entirely rimmed by a cliff that forms a narrow valley, filled with lush grass. There were elk grazing down in there. At the head of this valley, is a mile wide basin of gentle slopes and tundra. Flowers abound.

    Walk east across the upper basin, rapidly heading for your destination, which you can now clearly see. On the other side of the basin head, begin hiking up the steeper slopes of V.7, walking almost exclusively on forgiving tundra and clumps of grass. After about 600 feet, gain the south ridge of the peak, turn north and follow the ridge to the small, grassy summit. Best features of this hike are: wildlife viewing and abundant flowers in mid-July. Return as you came or if you have time, include the Twin Sisters.

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