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San Juan backpacking recs

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

Postby GeorgiaTyler » Sun Apr 15, 2012 4:53 pm

I think the biggest bang for your buck is to take the alpine loop north of silverton, TONs of cool stuff all over the place with easy hikes like the Mary lakes. Highland mary lakes are awesome and here is lost lake, not much cover from T storms at lost, but at the lower lakes there are plenty of options.


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Re: San Juan backpacking recs

Postby MtHurd » Sun Apr 15, 2012 9:28 pm

Biggest bang for your buck would be to hike into Ice Lakes and camp near Island Lake.

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Re: San Juan backpacking recs

Postby Vincopotamus » Sun Apr 15, 2012 11:34 pm

PaliKona wrote: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.


Vestal Basin is a great option, though probably longer and tougher than you were originally hoping for. I think it's 3-4 miles (and 40+ switchbacks!) from the pass down to the river, and 3ish miles up to the Beaver Ponds and the Vestal turnoff. From there it's a fairly burly user trail the last couple miles up to the lower campsites in the basin (I'd recommend soldiering on another 15 minutes to better campsites above the ones even with the Vestal-Arrow saddle). So maybe 8-9 miles total to get in there from Molas, one way?

Last 4th of July, a friend and I hiked up to the top of Point 12,931 just west of Peak 3, in hopes of seeing the fireworks in Silverton (couldn't see from there - we only saw the reflections of the fireworks on the clouds). The upper half of the slope from the basin to the ridge was pretty loose with flat, plate-y rocks, but manageable. I'd guess a route up Peak 3 would be similar.

A trip into Vestal would be quite a bit more difficult than the Highland Marys area, and probably harder than Ice Lakes Basin, though I haven't been up in there yet. Ice Lakes is obviously spectacular, as is Vestal Basin. I'd say Highland Marys is a little less scenic than the other two, but still very beautiful.
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Re: San Juan backpacking recs

Postby GeorgiaTyler » Mon Apr 16, 2012 6:16 pm

I guess i was talking about all the side hikes off of the alpine loop if you have a 4wd, it is endless. But yeah if you want one place in the san juans that will blow the doors off, ice lakes is your spot. Just make sure you see them in the full on sunshine. the color is incredible
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Re: San Juan backpacking recs

Postby PaliKona » Wed Apr 18, 2012 7:50 pm

All amazing ideas.

What about the Blue Lakes near Dallas Peak...is that a hike in or a 4wd road? I don't know the area well and can't tell from the map.

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Re: San Juan backpacking recs

Postby Jesse M » Wed Apr 18, 2012 8:00 pm

There is a really cool new Falcon guide out about 'Touring Colorado Hot Springs.' I think there looks to be a nice undeveloped pool to hike to in the San Juans that you could backpack to. Get the book for more info.

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Re: San Juan backpacking recs

Postby PaliKona » Mon Jul 02, 2012 11:30 am

My plans changed a bit for late July - my east coast friend wants to do a San Juan 14er. I'm thinking Handies or Sneffels. He's in good shape and hikes with me a lot when he's out here, but hasn't done a 14er and coming from sea level will take it's toll I'm sure.

We're planning on being in T-ride for 2-3 days, and also driving around to the Silverton area, and out to Lake City.
Which is more scenic and stunningly beautiful? Is Sneffles likely a bit too much?

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Re: San Juan backpacking recs

Postby Floyd » Mon Jul 02, 2012 11:56 am

PaliKona wrote:Which is more scenic and stunningly beautiful? Is Sneffles likely a bit too much?


My 60 year-old Dad with bad knees/back/shoulders/etc made it up Sneffels a couple days after leaving sea level. Handies has some of the best views of any 14er IMO and American Basin is gorgeous. While you won't be disappointed in either, Sneffels is the superior mountain (again, IMO) and has comparable views and Yankee Boy is amazing in its own right.
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Re: San Juan backpacking recs

Postby PaliKona » Mon Jul 02, 2012 12:30 pm

I guess I'd add Uncompadre as well to the list...

We'll camp the night before so which area is nicest? American Basin?

BTW, that's an awesome pic with you and your Dad! Good for him!

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