LoJ: #220 (Pre-LiDAR #222) / 13,553' Whitecross Mountain

Range › San Juan Range
Quadrangle › Redcloud Peak
Summit Location › Peak Route Icon N 37° 55' 50.32", W 107° 29' 35.98" (Not Field Checked)

Peak Summary

A relatively easy, short-mileage day that starts out on trail. Adjacent to an often frequented 14er, you'll share a trail with 14er baggers as well as parking and camping spaces. Lidar evaluation added 11 feet to this summit.

Grizzly Gulch - SE Slopes Route

Class 2
Medium Day // Take a Lunch
RT From Grizzly Gulch - Silver Ck TH: 7.5mi / 3,100'
  • Trailhead
    • Grizzly Gulch - Silver Ck TH

      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 and requires the better part of an hour to make the drive. On the weekends, park wherever you can find a place to squeeze in. 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.


      On the east side of Lake San Cristobal, there are two designated campgrounds. South of the lake, there are two more campgrounds: the Williams Creek and the Mill Creek. These typically fill on the weekends. After Mill Creek CG, there are no more designated campgrounds, but there are other at-large, primitive opportunities. Turn off toward Sherman and you may find a spot or two as you drive toward the Cataract Gulch TH. If you continue on up road 3306 to the trailhead for Grizzly Gulch and Silver Creek, some people camp right at the TH parking or on nearby spots, and there are more at-large spots further up the road, but be careful about private property.

    Peak Icon Route Map

    Route Info Grizzly Gulch - SE Slopes

    Route Description

    Year Climbed: 1991

    From the parking area, hike south and cross the Lake Fork of the Gunnison River on a good bridge. The popular and well-used trail stays on the north side of the creek and usually well above the creek as it passes through meadows and forest for the first two miles. Continue hiking the trail further up the drainage above tree line to about 12,400 where it leaves the valley floor and begins to ascend to the ridge that connects Handies and Whitecross to the west. The trail passes above a small tarn at 12,765 ft. When you see this little lake, head directly for the low spot on the Handies/Whitecross connecting ridge, hiking on some tundra, talus and scree. Once on the ridge, turn NE and hike along the ridge crest to the summit on mostly scree and rock. From the summit, gaze back down upon the Lake Fork River far below and where your hike began. Watch the distant, ant-like figures of hordes of hikers heading for Handies Peak in the distance and be glad you're not part of that crowd.

    For the descent, either return the way you came, or for the more adventurous, head down the ENE ridge of the peak on mostly talus and rocks all the way back down to tree line. Once you encounter trees, follow the ridge further down as it turns more to the east and begins to enter conifer forest and later on, aspens. You'll have a good half mile of bushwhacking on some moderately steep terrain, but you will have saved nearly two miles of trail hiking. Your choice.

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