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#589 UN 13075

Range › San Juan Range
Quadrangle › Handies Peak
Summit Location › Peak Route Icon N 37° 54' 15.66", W 107° 35' 34.70" (Not Field Checked)
Neighboring Peaks › Peak Icon Hanson Peak

Peak Summary

This little Class 1 summit is about as easy as they come. If you have 4WD, you can drive to within less than 400 feet of the summit. If you want to make it a little more sporting, or don't have the 4WD, there are two pleasant routes to the summit that will still only involve 3 miles of hiking one way.

UN13,075 West slope Route

Class 1
Medium Day // Take a Lunch
RT From Placer Gulch/Silverton TH: 6 mi / 2,515'
  • Trailhead
    • Placer Gulch/Silverton TH

      These trailhead directions will assume you have a good enough vehicle to make it to an intersection where a 4WD road in Placer Gulch joins another 4WD road in California Gulch. To get there, find your way to Silverton by your preferred route. From Silverton, drive NE out of town on the main road that heads up along the Animas River. This road is known as "The Alpine Loop Road." It's identified as Colorado 110 and/or BLM 4500. For several miles, it is a well-maintained, graded, gravel road. In 4 miles, you'll come to "Howardsville." Continue NE all the way to "Animas Forks." Most passenger vehicles should be able to make it to here. At Animas Forks, head west on BLM 4505, which goes up California Gulch. The turnoff is before the road for Cinnamon Pass. When we drove this in 1996, it was in excellent shape and a vehicle with higher ground clearance could have easily made it (i.e. - Subaru's, etc.), but with all the four-wheeling activity that goes on in this area these days, the road could be in much sadder shape. Drive a mile and a half to the turnoff for Placer Gulch. Park here somewhere out of the way of all the daytime four-wheelers.

      For those with high clearance, 4WD, and want to continue driving, here's more data for driving on up Placer Gulch: In general, we found the road in good shape. At about 12,000 ft. elevation, we encountered a rough patch where some road restoration was going on. At 12,200 ft., the road swings by the Gold Prince Mine and begins to climb steeply on switchbacks. It becomes rocky here. At 12,600, a short road that breaks off to the south makes a good parking spot to begin a hike up Hanson. If wanting to continue on from here, the road heads east and it's an easy drive over to a saddle and parking area that overlooks Parson Lake. UN13,075 is a very short and easy hike from here, with barely 400 feet of gain. It's also possible to continue on down this road as it crosses the ridge of Treasure Mountain and drops into Picayne Gulch. The drive back down the gulch and back to CO 110 was never difficult, but was steep in sections. All of this we drove in a Jeep Cherokee Sport.


      At-large, primitive sites for camping occur in several places as you drive up CO 110 to Animas Forks. On summer weekends, most of these places will have campers. A few spots host hordes of RV's. Take your pick. It would be possible to camp at the trailhead coordinates we provide, but there are no trees or privacy. We also noted that Picayne Gulch not only has some beautiful tundra areas, but may also offer some campsites lower in the trees. Try turning off CO 110 where the Picayne Gulch heads up to the west. This is about one mile before Animas Forks. There's a branch of that road that heads off and climbs up a ridge with trees on the south side of the gulch. Eventually, that same road rejoins the main road at a switchback at 11,800 ft. You should be able to find some camping spots in here if you have the vehicle that can drive to them. This road can be very steep in spots. You'll need a good low gear. Wherever you try to camp, expect to see others.

    Peak Icon Route Map Photos

    Route Info UN13,075 West slope

    Route Description

    Year Climbed: 2002

    From the trailhead where California and Placer Gulches join, walk south up the road that heads up Placer Gulch. If the road walking is too boring, you could walk down in the creek bottom. The willows are not too bad. As the road approaches the Gold Prince Mine, take a few minutes to look among the ruins, then continue following the road to a somewhat flat area at 12,600 ft., where the road will turn sharply east. (Parking available here for 4WD.) Continue along the road, now heading east for about 1/3 mile to a saddle that overlooks Parson Lake. From the saddle, chose your route up either the west flank of UN13,075 or contour around a bit to the north ridge and follow it south to the summit. From the saddle, the 400 feet of gain will be mostly on tundra, then when you reach the summit ridge, you'll have a little bit of rocky rubble and chiprock along a narrow ridge to manage before arriving at the summit.

    Return by the same route. If you're in a 4WD and have parked nearby, (the saddle overlooking Parson Lake is a good spot), you could continue driving down Picayne Gulch and rejoin CO 110 a little over a mile south of Animas Forks. Going down Picayne Gulch won't put your vehicle to as much "test" as driving up. This is a very steep road in places, but when we drove it, we did not find it to be too rough.

    Bonus Points: It would hardly make any sense to not climb Hanson peak when climbing UN13,075. So include it if at all possible. In addition, California Mountain, which lies north of Hanson, is classified a "soft rank" 13er. As easy as it is to get to it, it might be worth a little extra effort to do so, and you could easily descend east and rejoin the Placer Gulch road to get back to your vehicle.

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