Stony Pass (12,592′), San Juan Range

Stony Pass (12,592′), San Juan Range

Stony Pass (12,592′), San Juan Range

Stony Pass Rd crosses the Continental Divide and follows small streams that make up the headwaters of the Rio Grande River. The road was created in 1872 to connect the area’s mining operations in Silverton to the town of Del Norte. The Continental Divide Trail crosses the road at Hunchback Pass (12,493′) on it’s way from Mexico to Canada.

The San Juan Range is home to world class outdoor recreation. American Basin, California & Hurricane Pass, and Mt Sneffels are a few examples of the natural beauty of the area.

 

The road crosses the headwaters of the Rio Grande near Kite Lake.

Weather

GPS Route with Elevation

Video Tour

Trail Directions

County Road 3 to Stony Pass (heading east) is a well graded and a easy drive to the top in a stock vehicle (in good weather). Once on the east side of the pass, an off-road vehicle is recommended because the road gets progressively more difficult until Kite Lake.

Pole Creek, a water crossing on the east side of the pass, can be very deep in the spring, making it impossible to cross.

 

Trailhead Directions

Hurricane Pass (12,730′) and California Pass (12,960′), San Juan Range

Hurricane Pass (12,730′) and California Pass (12,960′), San Juan Range

Hurricane Pass (12,730′) and California Pass (12,960′), San Juan Range

The National Water and Climate Center reported that the SWE (snow water equivalent) for the San Juan Mountains, including Hurricane Pass and California Pass, in May of 2019 was 728% above normal. It was such a heavy snow year that most of the back country at higher elevations was still buried in July. The heavy amounts of snow also caused a significant number of avalanches in the state. The only option out of Silverton to the Alpine Loop this July was to take SH 100 to Gladstone. Heavy avalanche debris still blocked the route to Animas Forks from Silverton using County Rd. 2.

Heading out of Silverton on SH 110, you pass Gladstone, which sits in a flat meadow where the five forks of Cement Creek meet. The town began in the late 1870’s from the surrounding mines including a sawmill just below the town site. As the mines grew, the sawmill was needed by other mines in the area, so a wagon road was graded up Cement Creek. In 1879 this wagon road went over Hurricane Pass and down Poughkeepsie Gulch as the route from Silverton to Ouray.

Today Poughkeepsie Gulch is generally for high clearance 4×4 vehicles that don’t mind a few road scars. The route today includes Hurricane and California Pass, and eventually leads down to Animas Forks.

The San Juan Mountains offer incredible outdoor beauty, including areas such as American Basin, Mt Sneffels, and Stony Pass.

Weather

GPS Route with Elevation

This area is part of the Alpine Loop, a 4X4 lover’s dream. There are countless trails all leading to incredible alpine beauty and history.

Video Tour

Route Directions

Starting from Silverton, exit Highway 550 onto Greene St./Hwy 110

Continue on Hwy 110 through Silverton (1.2 Miles)

Turn left to stay on Hwy 110 (6.4 Miles)

Slight left onto County Rd 10/Hurricane Pass

Trailhead Directions

Mt Sneffels (14,150′), San Juan Range

Mt Sneffels (14,150′), San Juan Range

Mt Sneffels (14,150′), San Juan Range

Mt Sneffels is the second highest summit in the San Juan mountains and known as the “Queen of the San Juans”. Mt Sneffels is situated in the Mt Sneffels Wilderness of the Uncompahgre National Forest. There are only 15 miles of constructed trails in the 16,587 acre wilderness, making it truly wild.

Starting at the upper trailhead involves a rough road accessible with a 4WD vehicle. The lower trailhead is more accessible to 2WD vehicles, 1.25 miles below the upper trailhead.

The San Juan Range is home to world class outdoor recreation. American Basin, California & Hurricane Pass, and Stony Pass are a couple of examples of the natural beauty of the area.

Weather

GPS Route with Elevation

Video Tour

Trail Directions

The route description follows the standard route via Lavender Couloir.

From the Yankee Boy upper trailhead follow the trail until you reach the Blue Lakes Trail junction. Head right at the junction, hiking up a low-grade rocky trail before turning right up a steep gully. Continue for around 500 ft vertical gain up the loose dirt/gravel on unclear trail. Despite its grade, there are no switchbacks here, so this bit is brutal.

Reach a saddle at 13,500 ft, and turn left up Lavender Couloir. This gully is of similar grade but composed primarily if larger talus blocks. It funnels hikers up to just below 14,000 ft. This part of the mountain is fairly shaded, so the top if often full of snow into July. As the gully narrows and becomes cliffed out near the top, angle to the left, and pass through a V-notch (the most difficult part). Continue along a vague trail, angling up and to the right. The summit is only about 100 ft up and is clear from this point. Hike up along some solid rock to reach the summit.

Trailhead Directions

American Basin to Sloan Lake (12,920′), San Juan Range

American Basin to Sloan Lake (12,920′), San Juan Range

American Basin to Sloan Lake (12,920′), San Juan Range

The Handies Peak trail to Sloan Lake meanders through American Basin, one of the most scenic basins in the San Juan Mountains. Sloan Lake is a high alpine lake above treeline near the base of American Peak in the basin. The trail continues past the lake and up to Handies Peak, one of five l4,000′ peaks in the area.

The San Juan Range is home to world class outdoor recreation. California & Hurricane Pass, Stony Pass, and Mt Sneffels are a few examples of the natural beauty of the surrounding area.

Weather

GPS Route with Elevation

Video Tour

Trail Directions

The Handies Peak trail leaves the southeast end of the trailhead parking area and ascends the hillside on the left (east) side of the valley, heading south into the basin. At 3/4 miles the path crosses a stream and then continues the moderate ascent toward the head of the basin.

The path to the Lake turns left (southeast), leaving the valley floor and climbs 325-ft up a moderately steep hillside. At the top of hill the path descends into a shallow basin, crosses the outlet stream for Sloan Lake and then follows a gently ascending grade across rocky meadows. Eventually the path turns south, climbing steep switchbacks 200-ft up to a junction with the trail to Sloan Lake. At the junction a short spur trail drops south to the shore (12,930-ft.) while the trail to Handies Peak veers left. The trip to the lake is well worth your time. The aquamarine lake lies cradled in a rugged cirque, anchored to the southeast by American Peak (13,806-ft.). An imposing jagged ridge rises above the lake’s south shoreline.

Trailhead Directions