LoJ: #534 (Pre-LiDAR #544) / 13,144' UN 13144 Formerly UN 13130 USGS & UN 13140

Range › Elks Range
Quadrangle › Maroon Bells
Summit Location › Peak Route Icon N 39° 01' 52.17", W 106° 58' 03.59" (Not Field Checked)

Peak Summary

Note: G&M list and rank this peak based on the USGS quad elevation marker of 13,130 ft. LoJ & Roach believe that the quad is missing a contour at the SE end of the summit ridge which had been determined to be higher by sighting than the west summit, hence they give it an elevation of 13,140 ft. The GPS coordinates provided here are for the USGS west summit.

UN13,144 is an fairly easy Class 2 summit in the heart of the Elk Mountains and is somewhat dwarfed by many of its neighbors. The hike to this summit however is adorned with may wildflowers and a high altitude, pristine lake. It offers a pleasant break from the more rocky peaks like Precarious and Cassi. A short backpack trip makes this a more enjoyable experience overall, but is not required. This peak could be climbed as a day hike from the Rustler Gulch TH. Lidar added another 4 feet of elevation to make this summit 13,144 ft.

UN13,144 from Rustler Gulch Route

Class 2
Medium Day // Take a Lunch
Climbed with UN 13223
RT From Rustler Gulch: 9 mi / 2,800'
RT From Rustler Gulch Campsite : 4 mi / 2,000'
From Rustler Gulch Campsite: 2.00 mi / 2,000' (One-Way)
  • Trailhead
    • Rustler Gulch TH

      If coming from either the Front Range or the Western Slope, drive to Gunnison. From Gunnison, drive north on SH135 to Crested Butte. Stay on this main road as it enters the town, driving on through a major intersection with stop signs. Continue north on what becomes CR317 to the base of the ski area which is the Town of Mt. Crested Butte. Continue on the same road and a little after the main village and passing numerous condos, etc., the road will change over to a graded dirt road. During summer months, water trucks douse the road to help hold down the dust. Driving this road just after one of those trucks has gone through can change the road to a squishy, muddy mess, briefly. Begin measuring mileages from the end of the pavement. At 2.9 miles the road crosses the East River. Continue on CR317 to the site of Gothic which has a small but nice visitor center (3.4 miles) where you can inquire about parking regulations, hiking and biking trails and the research that is conducted in this area. During summer months daylight hours, this road is heavily travelled and parking is restricted to designated areas.

      Continue driving NW past Gothic another 1.9 miles to the Gothic Campground, (5.3 from pavement end). There are only 4 designated sites here. From June 15 to August 15, camping in primitive, undesignated sites anywhere in this section of the East River Valley is not permitted so this campground is technically your only option between those dates. From the campground turnoff, drive another .9 mile for the Rustler Gulch turnoff (6.2 from pavement end). If in a passenger vehicle, you should park here and plan on getting your feet wet to cross the East River. It is possible to drive down the road a little and park in some limited spots, but there's little sense in trying to continue across the river unless you have 4WD. The road that heads up Rustler Gulch is FR317.2B on CalTopo. The Gunnison National Forest map does not really show this road very clearly because it follows along the wilderness boundary. If you do have 4WD and the East River is not in high stage runoff, drive on down the rocky stretch through some close, tall willows and ford the river. Once across, there is another area where about a half dozen vehicles can park and even a campsite. The road will head immediately and steeply uphill for .7 mile to an intersection where you'll see a gate across the road that heads off to the right. Park here if there's any room to do so. Two or three vehicles might be able to fit in off the road just enough to let other vehicles by. Coordinates for this spot are: N38° 59' 57.31" W107° 00' 11.05". There's a stand of tall willows here. About .2 mile back there is a road that turns off on the right that goes to a campsite, but cattle use the same area when allowed to graze here.


      Right after where FR317.2B crosses the East River, there's an area that can accommodate a limited number of vehicles and some primitive camping right off the road. Then further up the road a short distance is another primitive spot that could accommodate a single vehicle on the right.

      For camping further away, try the Gothic Campground about a half mile before FR317.2B or some other primitive spots either back toward Gothic or further up the main valley of the East River. Keep in mind tha primitive site camping is not allowed June 15 to August 15 in the East River Valley area.

      Campsite Locations

      East River Crossing › N 38° 59' 23.07", W 107° 00' 28.35"
      Elevation 9,710 ft.
      Gothic CG › N 38° 58' 52.76", W 107° 00' 20.48"
      Elevation 9,640 ft.
    Approach Map Photos
    • From Rustler Gulch TH via Rustler Gulch Campsite

      For this "approach" there are two possible start points. If in a passenger car, the start will be where FR317.2B turns off of FR317 to cross the East River. You will then need to walk up FR317.2B to the trailhead coordinates. If you have 4WD, the start will be about a mile up after having forded the East River at the trailhead coordinates provided. There's a fence line and gate across the road/trail there.

      From the gate, walk north on the old road bed. In July, you'll enjoy a plethora of wildflowers that will distract you from the hiking. Heading up the well-used trail, walk through an open meadow before entering a forested section with a considerable amount of bog, exacerbated by the horses that pass through regularly. Gingerly walk through, trying not to get too muddy this early into the backpack and continued on into open, flower-filled meadows that prompted us to frequently stop and take photos. This was just a taste of what awaits in upper Rustler. In short order, you'll come to a creek crossing that probably will require boot removal. However, a trail heading off to the right along the creek into the woods and willows goes to a place where you might be able to gingerly cross on some small logs and get across the creek. Once across, this side trail continues and eventually leads back to the main trail, but not before taking you through an incredible meadow of more wildflowers where you may want to spend even more time taking photos.
      From this meadow, the open trail continues north and then begins to turn east into the upper basin. Continue up to where the trail has decidedly turned east and stop at a place where the creek, not too far below, cascades over some rock outcrops. Walk down and hop across the creek and hike up into a stand of trees and explore around. There was a faint game trail through here and a lot of fallen timber. Head upward and eastward through the timber. Near to where you exit the timber on the east side is a campsite, just the right size for two tents, with an old fallen log for cooking and eating and an old fire ring. See our field checked coordinates (2019). This makes an excellent base camp for the six 13er summits you can access from this valley and is out of the way of the day hiking foot traffic that frequents this valley. A game trail of sorts leads east from the campsite, then turns north through lower willows back down to the creek for an easy crossing and to regain the main trail.


      The upper basin of Rustler Gulch is so verdant and filled with wildflowers, you'll not likely find any campsite unless you want to trod down a bunch of flowers. The camp location described above is the only really decent campsite we found that would do minimal damage to the abundant wildflowers.

      Campsite Locations

      Rustler Camp N 39° 01' 25.00", W 106° 59' 26.80"
      Elevation 10,865 ft.

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

    Route Info UN13,144 from Rustler Gulch

    Route Description

    Year Climbed: 2013

    UN13,144 was for us the first summit of a two summit day that included UN13,223 (formerly UN 13180). We undertook this hike with a little bit of information regarding the connecting ridge between the two peaks that indicated it went at 3rd class. The mileage and elevation gain estimates are based on starting from the campsite we've indicated in the approach section.

    'So head out from camp and hop across the creek, cross the main trail and begin hiking up through the abundant flora & fauna that can be quite damp and quickly waterlog your boots. Take an angling path walking almost directly east to gain the first small basin at 12,060 ft. where the USGS map indicates there will be a small pond. The slopes are fairly steep, but there is little struggle with footing. There's actually a surprising amount of soft dirt between all the flowering plants. You may pass a few dwarf trees along the way and circumvent around the head of one very minor drainage with some exposed dirt and rocks.

    It took us a little over an hour to arrive in the lower basin mentioned before to find there was no tarn or lake – just a relatively flat area where it used to be, a widening of the stream and a lot of marsh marigolds growing out of the marshy area. Hiking to this point, we had repeatedly stopped for flower shots.
    Above this first basin, keep hiking on more lush tundra heading NE to a higher basin with a small lake just below 12,600 ft. Passing many more flowers, you'll arrive in this upper basin to find a lake of unique coloration – kind of a milky turquoise. Continue up a steep slope that has a game trail that leads north along a broad, flower-covered ridge with some willows. By this time, the distant views become something to marvel at. As we hiked by the willows, we thought we heard some strange sounds and unexpectedly, a group of deer arose from the willows and fled from us. There was no time to get their photo.
    At about 12,800 feet, leave the broad ridge and cross the shallow basin on now flat, rocky rubble, heading for a saddle a little west of the first summit. There was no problem gaining the saddle on the rubble and we finished the walk out to the high point which lies at least one third of a mile SE of the USGS map 13,130 foot marker. This southeastern summit was undoubtedly higher than the one marked on the USGS map, so on Lists of John, it has been given an additional 10 feet in elevation by Gerry Roach & John Kirk. Lidar now has even added another 4 feet. Take a brief break here and examine the choices over to UN13,223 (previously UN 13180) or turn around and head back down as you came or you could try to find the path to the old mine between 11,600 and 11,800 ft. If you find it, you can follow it on down to the main trail and stroll back to your campsite. Much of this old mine path has been obscured by willows, etc., but an old feeder pipeline helped us follow it at times.

    Additional BETA

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