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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.

Uncompahgre Peak, CO

no permit
148 10 0
Guide 10 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List CO > West
5 of 5 by 4
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Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Round Trip 7.6 miles
Trailhead Elevation 11,418 feet
Elevation Gain 2,894 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,894 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 22.07
Interest Perennial Creek & Peak
Backpack Yes & Connecting
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
26  2019-09-06 DixieFlyer
5  2015-07-28 toddak
24  2010-09-05 juliachaos
37  2010-06-18 PrestonSands
12  2010-06-18
Cinnamon Pass-Alpine Loop Road
44  2003-08-07 rwstorm
Author PrestonSands
author avatar Guides 168
Routes 149
Photos 5,534
Trips 1,317 map ( 6,690 miles )
Age 42 Male Gender
Location Oro Valley, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Jul, Jun, Aug, Sep → Early
Seasons   Late Spring to Early Autumn
Sun  5:57am - 6:07pm
Official Route
1 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
by PrestonSands

Likely In-Season!
Overview: Uncompahgre Peak, at 14,309 feet, is the sixth highest of Colorado's "Fourteeners". It is a spectacular sight high above Lake City, Colorado. The most popular route to the summit is via the Uncompahgre Peak Trail at the end of the Nellie Creek Road, and is the route described here. The mileage and statistics listed for this hike are for a start at the end of the high clearance 4 wheel drive Nellie Creek Road. For those without high clearance 4 wheel drive, you'll need to hike the Nellie Creek Road, which makes for a 16 mile round trip hike to Uncompahgre Peak, with an elevation gain of 4980 feet. For current road, trail, and snow conditions, I recommend contacting the Gunnison Ranger District, or the Lake City Chamber Of Commerce.

Warning: As with any hike above treeline, be sure to start early to avoid thunderstorms.

Hike: Five miles west of Lake City along the Henson Creek Road, a sign marks the start of the Nellie Creek Road. There is limited parking available at this road junction, if you choose to start here. Follow Nellie Creek Road as it climbs steeply up the canyon of Nellie Creek. The forest is thick, so there are no views of Uncompahgre Peak as of yet. The road forks at 2.3 miles (stay left). After 4 miles of rough switchback road, you will arrive at a large trailhead parking lot at the Uncompahgre Wilderness boundary. Signs mark the start of the Uncompahgre Peak Trail.

The easily followed track of the Uncompahgre Peak Trail heads into the trees, and soon begins following Nellie Creek. The trail quickly reaches treeline, where Uncompahgre Peak comes into view, at the west end of a large basin. The trail climbs a low bluff on the north side of Nellie Creek, where it reaches a signed junction with the Big Blue Trail at 0.9 miles. The trail steadily gains elevation while heading west, straight for Uncompahgre Peak.

A mile west of the Big Blue Trail junction, our trail turns south toward the prominent south ridge of Uncompahgre Peak. Passing a trail sign for Matterhorn Creek, the trail hits the south ridge at 13,000 feet. It climbs steadily while staying high on the south ridge's eastern face, aiming for the south edge of the peak.

A few switchbacks bring the trail to the crest of Uncompahgre Peak's south ridge, at 13,800 feet. The trail crosses over to the west side of the ridge at this point, and fades slightly in a steep rock slide, below a few hoodoo rock formations. At this point, you'll need to scale one of the two chutes above you. You should be able to see where others have scrambled up. There is nothing technical, but you don't want to slip here, so be careful.

After a hundred vertical feet or so, the chutes reach the top of Uncompahgre's cliffs (38.06848 N, -107.46194 W). The trail resumes here and climbs the last bit of ridge to the south edge of the tilted summit platform, reaching the true summit in another quarter of a mile. The summit is a broad open flat that suddenly gives way to a dramatic one thousand foot cliff along its northern edge. The view is spectacular, with hundreds of other high peaks spread out in every direction. Welcome to the highpoint of the San Juan Mountains.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

This is a moderately difficult hike.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2010-06-29 PrestonSands
    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
    Uncompahgre Peak
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    This was perhaps the most scenic hike that I have ever been on. The views as we approached the summit were almost surreal, and pictures don't the views justice.

    There was a bit of rock scrambling near the summit, but nothing too difficult.

    You definitely need a 4WD vehicle to get to the TH. My buddy drove us to the TH in his Wrangler Unlimited. The only other vehicles at the TH were a Rubicon and a stock 4Runner Trail. The folks in the 4Runner were from Phoenix, oddly enough.

    One nice thing about hiking in the San Juans is that there weren't many other people on the trails. I guess that the remoteness of the area and the rough roads keeps the riff-raff away!
    Uncompahgre Peak
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    headed up the rough nellie creek road to the 4x4 trailhead. it started of cloudy and was soon drizzling on us, which it would do off and on, and with varying severity for much of the way up and partly on the way down. the rains brought warmer morning temps though.

    quick stint through the trees and then you are above timber line, hiking above and next to beautiful nellie creek. big bad Uncy looms large for the whole hike. as we started switchbacking up to the ridge for the final approach to marmots started their war squeaks. as we hit the summit it kinda cleared up a bit and we were able to spend a good amount of time up there marveling at the tremendous views, especially of wetterhorn and matterhorn but really of the san juans in general. we got snow flurried on and eventually started getting chilly so we headed back down. the rain briefly picked up for a while but as we neared nellie creek again it got pretty darn nice out and we totally chilled it out on the way back.

    this hike rocks...big time :DANCE:
    Uncompahgre Peak
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Quite possibly the best day ever...

    After receiving favorable reports, I decided to attempt Uncompahgre Peak the following day. It would be my first fourteener. I booked a hotel room in Silverton and went to bed early.

    I left the in-laws house in Cortez at 5 am, and made good time through Durango, but ran into millions of bicyclists for Ride The Rockies when I reached Poncha Springs. Wolf Creek Pass was slow going with bikes everywhere, a rolled over semi, and cops. Turning off at South Fork, I drove through Creede, stopped at the Alferd Packer Massacre Site (Really, who builds a house at a spot like that? :o ), and rolled through Lake City.

    Turning off from Henson Creek Road, I made the rough drive up Nellie Creek Road, giving the 4wd a good workout. My 12 pm start time would normally have been a very bad idea for Uncompahgre Peak, but the weather was on my side today. I passed 7 others hiking down as I was going up, then had the place to myself. Arriving at the south ridge, I surpassed my old high altitude record of 12,890 feet, and kept on going. The chute section near the top definitely grabbed my attention. I soon made the top, where I hung out with curious marmots for almost an hour, sending texts to family and friends, taking photos and video, and just enjoying every minute of it. No summit register to be found... :? I started down at 3:30 pm and made good time, even getting to try a short glissade for the first time.

    I reached the Nellie Creek Trailhead a little after 5 pm, then drove back to Lake City. Wow, what a hike! I enjoyed a good burger at Southern Vittles restaurant before I began part 2 of my adventure...

    I left Lake City at 8 pm, and began the backroad shortcut to Silverton along the Alpine Loop road. The canyon of the Lake Fork of the Gunnison River was mind blowingly beautiful. I passed the trailheads for Handies, Redcloud, and Sunshine Peaks (You drove a car up the shelf road, Jim?! you're crazy! :lol: ) and several old buildings.

    Arriving at the turnoff for American Basin at dark, I shifted into 4wd again, and started up the nasty Cinnamon Pass Road. Crawling along at 5 to 10 mph in 4wd in the San Juan Mountains at night while squeezing past huge snowdrifts and negotiating hairpin switchbacks on the side of a mountain might seem crazy, but I had a blast!

    I reached the end of the Cinnamon Pass Road at the Animas River, then proceeded to explore the ghost town of Animas Forks for a bit by moonlight. I tried to identify the long vanished route of the Silverton Northern Railroad along this last stretch. It amazed me that a railroad ever made it through that rough country to Animas Forks. I finally reached Silverton at 11:30 pm, and checked into the Triangle Motel. I reviewed my options for the next morning, then fell into a coma sleep.

    What a great day it had been! :y: I think it is safe to say that Uncompahgre Peak was the most exciting hike I have ever been on. I can't wait to go back. :D :D :D

    Youtube video:

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Strictly 4x4

    To hike
    From Durango, Colorado head east on U.S. Highway 160 for 102 miles to the town of South Fork. Turn north onto Colorado Highway 149, and follow it for 71 miles to Lake City. In Lake City, turn left (west) onto Henson Creek Road (part of the Alpine Loop drive). Follow Henson Creek Road (gravel, cars likely okay when dry) for 5 miles to the signed turnoff for Nellie Creek Trailhead/Uncompahgre Peak Trail. Park here if you do not have high clearance 4wd with low range gears. Otherwise, begin driving up Nellie Creek Road. The road forks at 2.3 miles (stay left). The Nellie Creek Road ends at 4 miles, at the Nellie Creek Trailhead, where the Uncompahgre Peak Trail begins. (see hike description)
    page created by PrestonSands on Jun 29 2010 1:07 am
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