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San Juan backpacking recs

Information on peaks other than the CO 14ers and 13ers.
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San Juan backpacking recs

Postby PaliKona » Sat Apr 07, 2012 10:44 pm

I'm looking to take my east coast friend backpacking (one night) in the San Juans this summer..any recs for a great overnight that is really scenic, not too long (under 5 miles in) and fun?

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Re: San Juan backpacking recs

Postby Hobopoet » Sun Apr 08, 2012 6:54 am

Wow...too many to list! There's one above Durango that may fit. It's been a while since I've been up this, but there's a rather rough road that goes up Missionary Ridge just outside of town. This leads to a TH; from there, it's a pretty straight-forward hike to a ridge the overlooks the mountain range to the north. Grenediers? I can't remember the name.

Then if you want to do something out of Silverton, 50 miles north, the choices are truly endless. I suggest contacting the Public Lands information office in Silverton. This is on Blair Street one block north of the Silverton train stop. There's also a information office in the Silverton vistor's center just as you come into town. It's a big house-like building right at the Y; really, you can't miss it. They will have useful info but I think the Public Lands office will have more details and more up to date insights. I worked there one summer and it was a touch stone for all the law enforcement personnel - county, state, BLM and Forest Service. These people are in the high country every day and they know what's open and what's not at any given moment.

Enjoy!

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Re: San Juan backpacking recs

Postby PaliKona » Sun Apr 08, 2012 11:44 am

I was thinking more in the Silverton area but that's not necessary...one I keep hearing about is Ice Lake. Any others that just knock your socks off?

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Re: San Juan backpacking recs

Postby Vincopotamus » Sun Apr 08, 2012 12:26 pm

Might try Highland Marys Lakes SE of Silverton. About 2-3 miles in if I remember, and you can go another mile or so from there back to Verde Lake, or even further on to Lost Lake. All the lakes sit at about 12,000 feet, and the landscape is lush, rolling tundra. Catching the wildflowers in bloom is awesome. BEAUTIFUL views of Vestal and Arrow and the Needles mountains as well from the saddle between Verde and Highland Mary's Lakes. Good trout fishing in Highland Marys Lakes too.

There are usually sheep grazing there later in the year and there have been some issues with hikers and sheep watch dogs, but with so little snow this year I bet it will be melted out and accessible sometime in June, well before the sheep get there.
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Re: San Juan backpacking recs

Postby PaliKona » Sun Apr 08, 2012 2:13 pm

Sounds awesome..I'd love to see Vestal and Arrow!

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Re: San Juan backpacking recs

Postby Hobopoet » Sun Apr 08, 2012 6:58 pm

The Colorado Trail also crosses US 550 in Molas Pass which is just above Silverton to the south. East, it drops down to cross the Animas. West/SW, it takes a big, sweeping curve down towards Durango. I've been on this and it's a very cool backpacking route. Of course, as others have suggested, the choices here really are endless.

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Re: San Juan backpacking recs

Postby PaliKona » Sun Apr 08, 2012 7:15 pm

Is there a 2 day loop one can do?

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Re: San Juan backpacking recs

Postby randalmartin » Sun Apr 08, 2012 9:44 pm

PaliKona wrote:Is there a 2 day loop one can do?


Can I confirm, are you saying a loop that is only 5 miles or less long?

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Re: San Juan backpacking recs

Postby PaliKona » Sun Apr 08, 2012 9:49 pm

Sorry, I meant around 5 miles per day..very flexible though and would love to hear all ideas.

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Re: San Juan backpacking recs

Postby d_baker » Sun Apr 08, 2012 10:16 pm

I think the Big Blue Wilderness (N of Uncompahgre) could provide a nice backpack loop.
Check out the E, Middle, or W Forks of the Cimarron on a map. I've been on the W Fork and went into Wetterhorn Basin, and it's a beautiful area.

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Re: San Juan backpacking recs

Postby PaliKona » Sun Apr 15, 2012 10:29 am

I will check all these out, thank you for the suggestions.
In looking at the maps...what about backpacking into Vestal Basin from Molas Pass? How long is that? Looks like the return trip back up from the Animas is a pain, but...
Also, while in the basin, how hard is it to hike Peak 3? I've seen photos of Storm King Peak from that location that blow me away, not to mention the Grenadiers.

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Re: San Juan backpacking recs

Postby PaliKona » Sun Apr 15, 2012 10:34 am

The other question I have is about Highland Mary Lakes and Verde Lake...they are above treeline correct? Wondering where to set up camp nearbye that's safer (from t storms).

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