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#153 / 13,688' UN 13688 A Cooper Creek Peak

Range › San Juan Range
Quadrangle › Redcloud Peak
Summit Location › Peak Route Icon N 37° 57' 52.51", W 107° 25' 04.15" (Not Field Checked)

Peak Summary

UN 13,691 (Every Mountain), along with UN 13,688 (Cooper Creek Peak) are both Class 2 summits in the San Juan Mountains and close to the 14ers, Sunshine, Redcloud and Handies. The two summits combined together make a nice day hike with a lot of trail, tundra and just moderate rock conditions that are fairly easy to handle. The trailhead is near where Cooper Creek crosses Hinsdale County Road 3, the same road used to access the previously mentioned 14ers, so accessible to higher clearance vehicles. This road is the same that's part of the "Alpine Loop" and eventually takes you over Cinnamon Pass. 

UN 13,688 "Cooper Ck. Pk." N. Ridge Route

Class 2
Peak Icon Peak Icon
Medium Day // Take a Lunch
Climbed with "Every Mountain"
RT From Cooper Creek: 12.2 mi / 3,650'
From "Every Mountain": 1.50 mi / 480' (One-Way)
  • Trailhead
    • Cooper Creek Trailhead

      From Lake City, proceed south on HWY 149 and take the turnoff to the right (south) for Lake San Cristobal a little over 2 miles out of town and after gaining some elevation. Continue south around the lake on the west side and follow CR3 (BLM 3306; CR30 on Trails Illustrated #141) past the Williams Creek, then the Mill Creek (13.2 miles from Lake City) campgrounds to the road intersection at Sherman. (1.2 miles past the Mill Creek CG) Road to here is passable for standard passenger cars. Take the right fork (known as the Cinnamon Pass Road) and begin a steeper ascent into the upper valley. Higher/better-than-average clearance vehicles now advisable. It's a little over 4 miles to the Silver Creek/Grizzly Gulch trail heads used for accessing Sunshine, Redcloud and Handies. From Lake City, it's about 18.5 miles overall to the Grizzly/Silver TH and requires the better part of an hour to make the drive. There is a small parking area on the north side of the road, and the trail for Sunshine/Redcloud begins from the lot. A vault toilet is on the south side of the road with the trail taking off from behind the toilet and a footbridge takes you over the Lake Fork to access Grizzly Gulch and Handies Peak. For Cooper Creek, continue west along the same road for just under another mile. There's a small pullout for parking on the south side of the road. The trail for Cooper Creek begins across the road. Last report we found indicates there is a trail sign. The trail heads NNW up the open hillside, then gradually makes a turn to the east to head over near the creek before turning back north and continuing up along the west side of the creek. 


      Camping

      There are designated, forest service campgrounds at Williams Creek and Mill Creek CG. There's also some primitive sites around Sherman. Once above Sherman, additional primitive sites may be found at the TH for Sunshine, Redcloud and Handies and again near the TH for Cooper Creek.

    Approach Map Photos
    • From UN 13691


      Our suggested route for hiking UN 13,691 (Every Mountain), and for the partner summit UN 13,688 (Cooper Creek Peak) largely follows that suggested by G&M in their book. The two peaks are sequenced with each other and the route could be done in either direction with it making little if any difference.

      Follow the trail first to the NNW, then it makes a wide turn to head east toward Cooper Creek. Before reaching the creek, the trail turns north and follows the creek on the west bank. At 11,175 ft., the trail crosses the creek to the east side and switchbacks up the hillside before continuing north through a combination of forest and wide open meadows. Watch for another crossing back to the west side of the creek at 11,580 ft., however, a fainter, less used trail does continue on the east bank and goes up the valley to an old prospect just above 12,000 ft. Keep this trail in mind for the return. 

      Back at the second creek crossing, go ahead and cross over and follow the trail as it cuts diagonally across the slope to the creek fork that drains Cooper Lake. There is a place along this particular fork where the creek suddenly becomes deeply entrenched. The trail takes you to the head of that entrenchment. Watch for a trail that forks off in that area that ascends steeply to the saddle marked with a "prospect" at 12,900 feet, between Pt. 13,131 and Pt. 13,484. The trail goes up here mostly through tundra. Once on the ridge at the prospect, turn east and follow the rocky, but stable ridge to Pt. 13,484 (or contour below on the south face) and gain the final 300 feet elevation to the summit of Every Mountain. Avoid any obstacles by passing by on the south side below the ridge. There will be a few steep, rocky places but nothing exceeds Class 2 work. All along this ridge, there you may find faint trail to follow. In fact, in our 1992 visit, there was a large herd of domestic sheep being grazed in this area that left "trails" all over the higher tundra and talus terrain. (Be careful about filtering water if you need any.) This summit will offer a nice view of Cooper Lake and Gudy Peak off to the west. Keep an eye out for elk that may be seen below in Lee Smelter Gulch, Copper Gulch, Owl Gulch or Alpine Gulch while hiking the ridge to either summit. 

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    Peak Icon Route Map Photos

    Route Info UN 13,688 "Cooper Ck. Pk." N. Ridge

    Route Description

    Year Climbed: 1992
    UN 13,688 (Cooper Creek Peak) is sequenced with UN 13,691 ("Every Mountain"). One-way mileage and elevation gain are measured from the summit of "Every Mountain." Round-trip mileage and elevation gain assume completion of the sequence. 
    From the summit of UN 13,691, follow the ridge of broken rubble south down to a saddle at 13,220 ft. Regain about 200 feet as the ridge turns more to the SE, then it turns back more to the south and levels out for a while before the final ascent to the summit of UN 13,688. Some of this traverse will be on easy tundra but the final section will be on smaller rubble. There is something of a trail that covers most of this ridge, in fact, you may notice the area being laced with trails left behind by the domestic sheep grazing. 
    For the descent, walk back north along the ridge back to the saddle at 13,220 ft. From the saddle, descend west on a combination of talus and/or some tundra depending on your choice, (further down it will be on tundra) and descend all the way into the valley. Locate the "prospect" that was mentioned earlier in the route description for UN 13,691. Try to locate the fainter trail also mentioned before which will be on the south side of the creek and follow it back to the main trail along Cooper Creek, which you should intersect on the east side of the creek without having to cross over. From there, just follow the trail back to your vehicle. There are two bonuses for this overall hike. One is the floral display in mid-summer. The other is the possibility of spotting some elk grazing either in this valley or visible from the high ridges in some of the other valleys. 

    Additional BETA

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