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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Engineer Mountain 12968', CO

no permit
47 3 0
Guide 3 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List CO > Southwest
5 of 5 by 2
Warning! Technical climbing skills required. Risks include serious injury to death.  Risks are not eliminated by skill.
Climb Consensus (2) → View
Difficulty 3rd
Climb I X
Rock Metamorphic Not good
Length 10 ft 1 Pitch
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Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 4 of 5
Distance Round Trip 5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 10,679 feet
Elevation Gain 2,280 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,400 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 17
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Seasonal Waterfall, Perennial Waterfall, Seasonal Creek, Perennial Creek & Peak
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
5  2017-09-01 toddak
33  2013-06-14 Jim_H
9  2011-12-31
Coal Bank Pass Excursion
Author Jim_H
author avatar Guides 55
Routes 44
Photos 7,651
Trips 1,608 map ( 9,661 miles )
Age 40 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Jul, Aug, Jun, Sep → 9 AM
Seasons   Late Spring to Early Autumn
Sun  5:54am - 6:16pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Named place Nearby
Harder than it seems
by Jim_H

Likely In-Season!
Engineer Mountain is only 12,968' and so ordinarily you would expect it to be overlooked in Colorado. However, it is very popular as it is prominent over US 550, easy to access, and offers great views. It is harder than it seems like it should be from the data, as the hike and climb is steep, the terrain on the mountain is loose and it feels like it wants to slide, and the ridge is pretty exposed.

The hike begins easy enough. From Coal Bank Pass, go north on US 550 a couple of hundred feet or so and find the dirt road to the west. Hike this, or drive this, to the parking area and sign for the Pass Trail. This trail is a nicely built Forest Service trail through the spruce forest to treeline where it meets a cross trail. You'll gain a fair amount of elevation and most of your miles in this section.

Once you meet the cross trail, you'll be directly below Engineer Mountain. From here, you can see and follow the obvious trail leading to the mountain's base. It begins to go up slope and shouldn't be too hard to follow. As you leave the red rock and enter the white rock, the situation changes. It shouldn't be overly difficult, but you do have to look for the trail at times. You'll encounter a few sections of scrambling before you get to be about half way up. When you get to a chimney section, you can either climb up that, or do what I did: as the trail enters the short deep section of rock before the chimney, climb up to the left and follow the slope to the top of the chimney. From here it is never very hard, but the rock feels dangerous and you're on a high ridge. This is more of an issue when coming down. Descend carefully the way you came.

Engineer is not as easy as you might think, but a lot of people summit it. I would not do this casually in monsoon season, as even though not terribly high for the state, it is a high area and I would not want to be on this rock when wet. Never mind the lightning. Really, given the choice between a late start on a 14er walk up or this during the peak of monsoon season, I would take the walk up.

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2013-06-14 Jim_H
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Most recent Triplog Reviews
    Engineer Mountain 12968'
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    I finally summited this modestly elevated beast off of, and over top of, US 550 north of Durango. Quite the summit, well worth the effort and a lot harder feeling than the stats reflect. Not a scramble/hike for those who don't like lose rock and exposed stuff. It tested me.

    This mountain reminded me a lot of Mount Russell in the Sierra. Narrow and exposed feeling, but only a few stops were all that bad. It feels worse than it is. I suspect locals who do this often get used to it, but the first time feels scary, especially as you are descending, a rock slides from underneath of you, and you are looking down.
    Engineer Mountain 12968'
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Coal Bank Pass Excursion
    Weather reports made me rethink my desire to hike Engineer, so I left later, arrived even later than expected, and just went for a snowshoe hike starting from Coal Bank Pass. It was very cold, and windy, and I am glad I had decided against Engineer. I wouldn't have liked being on the ridge line in those conditions. I left the parking area, went up the steep slopes to the west of the pass, rounded a small frozen pond, and through the trees to treeline. Not sure what I wanted to do, I went to the top of a ridge that extends towards the pass. I topped out around 11,920', but even at that altitude it was very cold. I guess I am just not used to the harshness of winter anymore. I don't miss it. I returned as I came, and regained some elevation at times. I put my crampons on to descend a butt-track from someones glissade down the slope. Using them is a little easier than trying to keep with the snowshoes in icy conditions. Not the goal I wanted, but in keeping with my theme of disappointment, not meeting goals, and falling short, it was a good hike on which to end the year. That may sound like I am biter, but I really did enjoy the hike, even if it does seem like every big goal/hike I have planned has not worked out for the last 3 months of the year. I still did OK in 2011.

    Permit $$
    no fees or permits reported

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    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike & climb trip
    Take US 550 north out of Durango to Coal Bank Pass. Park at the pass, or take the gravel road across from the pass and slightly to the north and park near the trailhead sign.
    page created by HAZ_Hikebot on Jun 14 2013 8:45 pm
    $17 3L Hydration Bladder
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