| Handies Peak Loop - Grizzly Gulch Up, American Basin Down
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Handies Peak: Grizzly Gulch Up, American Basin Down
Grizzly Gulch Basin and American Basin are two of the prettiest places in the state, with a gorgeous but laid back mountain, Handies Peak, separating them. While the easy way is to drive a car up to the American Basin TH, the most scenery-packed way is to hike up Grizzly Gulch, and down American Basin. I would also suggest going in this exact direction, for several reasons.
First, the view of Handies from Grizzly Gulch is more splendid.
That is, the East Face presents itself as more impressive, while the western route sneaks through a blocked view that doesn't properly present a 14000 foot mountain.
Also, the route along the East Face takes a nifty direction onto a grassy bench before the summit ridge, before rising up along talus to the ridge itself. This exploitation of the surrounding area is better appreciated when going up, and the only touch of Class 2 on this route -- the summit ridge -- is certainly easier when going up.
Finally, this clockwise direction puts the Cinammon Pass road section at the end of your journey, where you're sufficiently protected below treeline and with some vehicle traffic in case of a weather emergency.
In sum, I hope I have sold this route as a fun loop alternative to the more common standard peakbagging route from the American Basin TH, which involves more driving, misses the beauty of the Grizzly Gulch side, and doesn't even yield a minimally satisfying 3000 feet of climbing.