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Hinsdale County Road Alerts

For anyone planning on visiting Hinsdale County/Lake City area, be aware of the following road closures. Visit this link for more details.  Click Here  For the San Juan National Forest click here to be taken to a page on their site that has road closure information. Currently there is no off-road/primitive site camping allowed along the South Mineral Creek FS585 out of SIlverton. Do your research before leaving. Many areas commonly accessible by this time of year are still closed! Check other National Forest websites for additional information. 

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#159 UN 13681

Range › San Juan Range
Quadrangle › Uncompahgre Peak
Summit Location › Peak Route Icon N 38° 07' 13.02", W 107° 27' 27.33" (Not Field Checked)

Peak Summary

UN 13,681 is a Class 2 hike from the Nellie Creek/Uncompahgre Peak trailhead that includes Silver Mountain. The mostly tundra hike is long on miles but easy hiking overall. The trailhead is accessible by most stock 4WD vehicles with primitive camping available close by. This hike covers some expansive and beautiful high tundra terrain with impressive views of Uncompahgre Peak from perspectives usually not seen. 

UN 13,681 SE Ridge Route

Class 2
Peak Icon Peak Icon
Long Day // Back for Dinner
Climbed with "Silver Mountain A"
RT From Nellie Ck - Uncompahgre Peak: 14.45 mi / 5,005'
From "Silver Mountain A": 1.50 mi / 500' (One-Way)
  • Trailhead
    • Nellie Ck - Uncompahgre Peak Trailhead

      Directions begin from Lake City. From Gunnison, go west on SH50 to the intersection near the beginning of Blue Mesa Reservoir with SH149 and turn south. From Montrose, drive east on SH50 to the east end of Blue Mesa Reservoir for the same turnoff on SH149. Drive west and south on 149 to Lake City, just over 45 miles from the previous intersection. Once in Lake City, watch for either 3rd or 2nd street. Turning west on either will take you to Bluff St. in two blocks and a left turn (south).  2nd St. is considered the "official" access to CR20 which heads west following Henson Creek, but if you take 3rd St., it passes by a nice city park with restroom and picnic tables for those who need a break before proceeding further. 

      Once on CR20 (on the Gunnison National Forest map this is labelled as BLM3303), drive 5.2 miles to the turnoff for Nellie Creek which is signed and turns off to the north (FR877). Coordinates are: N 38° 01' 13.88"  W 107° 24' 02.68". Standard clearance passenger vehicles should not attempt to go up this road. A short distance up the Nellie Creek road is some camping, (several possible sites) but camping is not permitted along CR20 in this section of the road. To proceed further up the Nellie Creek road, a minimum stock 4WD is best to have. The road starts out kind of rough and with potholes as it passes the initial campsites and then improves in a relative sense. While rocky in stretches, there are never any difficult places up to the creek crossing. Along this stretch there are a couple other campsites right off the side of the road. In 2.0 miles, the road crosses from the east to the west side of Nellie Creek, then climbs a steep switchback and continues generally north. In another .4 mile, it makes a hard left while another road veers off to the right. This older road gives access to Crystal Peak. In another mile, the road to the trailhead begins to level out in an open meadow. From the meadow it's another .8 mile to the trailhead from there for overall mileage of about 4 from CR20. Plan on this drive taking a minimum half hour or longer depending on how much you want to rattle your vehicle. 


      Camping

      The parking area and vicinity at the trailhead offers some primitive campsites but the ground here is not very level, so the best campsites are about a quarter mile back in the trees where there are several good sites. There's also good opportunities back in the long, wide open meadow. On summer weekends, expect the trailhead to be crowded and camp sites more difficult to find. Since Uncompahgre Peak is the 6th highest 14er, it attracts a lot of attention. 

    Approach Map Photos
    • From Silver Mountain


      For Silver Mountain and UN 13,681, head north on the very-well established Uncompahgre Peak trail # 239 (or #6239 on FS Topo 2016). This trail follows up along Nellie Creek then climbs out of the creek drainage at about three-quarter mile and switchbacks to the left. Right at that switchback, leave the Uncompahgre trail and head north on another trail (#232 or 6232) that gains elevation on several switchbacks to a pass at 12,380 ft. Coordinates for this intersection are: N 38° 04' 06.81"  W 107° 25' 56.35". At the pass, continue down on #232, losing around 1,000 feet in elevation and drop into the Big Blue Creek drainage. The descent starts out in a large tundra basin with lush tundra surrounding the trail. At 11,900 feet, the trail enters some trees. In 1994, there was a beautiful campsite here utilized by shepherds. There are also some other campsite opportunities further along the trail. Follow the well-used trail to a crossing of the creek. Where the trail crosses the creek, it has entered into a broad, open meadow. 

      Once across the creek, follow the "Fall Creek Trail #231 NW into another tundra basin, first passing through more forest and some tempting meadows. At treeline, there were two old cabins - by now, probably much more deteriorated than in 1994. Above the cabins, the wide open bowl continues and for skiers, may conjure up images of skiing untracked powder. The trail works its way up to a pass east of Silver Mountain at 12,700 ft. Its possible to hike to here and then turn west and follow  the east ridge to the summit. However, we chose to leave the trail at 12,280 feet and head west to the first saddle south of the Silver summit. The hike to the saddle continues on tundra,then gives way to some moderate talus/scree. Basically follow the minor drainage. Once at the saddle, turn north and finish the final  500 feet of hiking on a mostly tundra ridge with minor amounts of rubble towards the summit. 

      This summit offers some nice views looking west over toward the peaks that sit between the Middle and East forks of the Cimarron. Farther in the distance, you can get a good glimpse of Coxcomb, which appears more as a pinnacle from this angle. To return, simply retrace your route, but we have sequenced Silver with UN 13,681, and it would be prudent for the ardent peakbagger to go ahead and include this in your day. Otherwise, you may come to regret it. 

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    Peak Icon Route Map Photos

    Route Info UN 13,681 SE Ridge

    Route Description

    Year Climbed: 1994

    UN 13,681 is sequenced with Silver Mountain A. One-way mileage and elevation gain are measured from the summit of Silver Mtn. Round-trip mileage and elevation gain assume completion of the sequence. 

    From the summit of Silver Mountain, hike north and then NE down the ridge to a minor saddle at 13,460 ft., then turn NW toward UN 13,681 and follow its broad and easy SE ridge to the summit. The mile and a half distance can be covered in well under an hour. The hiking is mostly tundra with pockets of rubble or scree but nothing to slow you down. This isolated summit, when we climbed it in 1994, had little if any evidence of any trail and the summit register had very few entries. This is one of those summits that only the truly dedicated to a list types will spend any effort on. 

    For the return/descent, it may be tempting to find a way to bypass going back over the summit of Silver Mtn. and following your approach route. If you return to the minor saddle at 13,460 ft., it's possible to drop into the basin to the east and hike out first east, then south to the pass between Silver and UN 13,051 at 12,700 ft. Doing this could also set you up for continuing on across the Fall Creek valley over to UN 13,016 (but that would make this an even longer day). If you choose to drop into the basin NE of Silver, you will find it ringed by cliffs with occasional breaks leading into couloirs, filled with rubble. The rock in this area is an unusual conglomerate. The upper end of the couloirs is very steep. There was a thin crust of mud-like substance that covered an underlying layer of rock and would easily break off and slide. This made footing extremely difficult. Depending on where you choose to descend, you'll have to deal with 200 - 300 feet of this before reaching some tundra and more stable ground. The steep angle of descent makes this an accident waiting to happen. 


    Additional BETA

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