Peak(s):  Wilson Peak  -  14,017 feet
Date Posted:  08/05/2008
Modified:  05/06/2014
Date Climbed:   08/03/2008
Author:  USAKeller
Additional Members:   Fred Moore
 Wilson Peak (Bear Creek Route)-  

Wilson Peak (Bear Creek Route): My Dad's 14er Finisher

Date: August 3, 2008
Team: sdkeil, comin2getcha, my dad (Fred), Randy (close family friend), and me
Route: Bear Creek Route to Southwest Ridge from Silver Pick TH
Total mileage: ~8.1 miles from Silver Pick TH
Total elevation gain: 3,800ft. from Silver Pick TH

*NOTE: If you stay on the trail, the Bear Creek route does not cross private property in Silver Pick Basin. This route does, however, start from the Silver Pick Road and exits it before the private property begins, which is why I have "Silver Pick TH" in quotations for the title of this trip report.

The Bear Creek route (orange) and the old standard "closed" Silver Pick route (blue) from Google Earth:
image by BillMiddlebrook

Wilson Peak ended up being my dad's Fourteener Finisher; he, Randy, and I tried late last September for it but lots of snow prevented that from happening. So, this year was to be the year, and we were going to ensure his finisher would happen. Last year, Bill provided me with some excellent beta on a route up Wilson Peak that wouldn't favor a backpacking route (of which my dad doesn't particularly care for). Passing through the east side of Silver Pick Basin, the Bear Creek route avoids the private property in the basin - it seems to be sort of a "locals" trail. My dad, Randy, and I left Boulder Saturday morning en route to Telluride where we would meet up with sdkeil and comin2getcha, who did the El Diente - Mt. Wilson traverse together earlier that day. We arrived at our hotel - the Blue Jay Inn in Placerville (an excellent, new, clean place to stay), and the guys showed up about an hour later. After dinner and a conversation full of laughter later, we ended up sleeping the five of us in our hotel room.

We all woke up at 3:45am and headed for the Silver Pick TH. We started up the road at 5:30am and arrived at stop-sign 25min. later (photo below).

Near the "intersection" along the Silver Pick Road - heading left will take you to the Bear Creek Route; staying straight will take you to private property (photo taken Sept. 2007):

After heading left past the stop sign, we continued up the road to another sign. Again, staying straight on this road leads to the private land; hanging a left on an unmarked trail took us to the Bear Creek trail - all seen in the two photos below.

The road leading to the Bear Creek Trail:

The next two photos below show parts of the trail leading up to Silver Pick Basin:

Just upon entering the basin, there is an trail junction. The right branch (blue arrow) eventually meets up with private property and the old rock house; the left branch continues up the Bear Creek route.

The trail junction at the lower part of the basin (stay left!) (photo taken Sept. 2007):

When we were there last September, the snow outlined a very faint trail that traverses below Wilson Peak's Northwest base, however, we weren't able to see it this time around (it is very faint!). The route is cairned, but it mislead us up a bit too high above a rock knob where we were to traverse across below several couloirs and rock ribs. Contouring this section was full of loose rock and did cost us some time. The photo below shows the route we took up around the knob (yellow) and the route we should have taken, albeit not well (if at all) marked.

The route we took (yellow) and the faint trail we should have taken (red):

Another view of the Bear Creek Route along the east side of Silver Pick Basin, taken from the Rock of Ages Saddle, 13,000ft.:

Our group traversing the base of Wilson Peak (taken from 12,700ft.):

Despite the detour, we reached the Rock of Ages saddle, took in the spectacular view of El Diente and Mt. Wilson, and headed up to the Gladstone - Wilson Peak saddle. Since there is plenty of information on the route from this saddle to the summit of Wilson Peak, there is nothing else I can add that would be beneficial. Here are just a couple of photos of the scramble.

My dad (in front) and Randy scrambling across through the rocks (option #1 in Bill's route description):

Me scrambling up the second "slick rock" section:

Having been the only one on this route previously, I led the final scramble from the false to the actual summit. Since our group was rather large, we took turns climbing up any looser sections before the next one would start.

My dad follows my lead from the false summit:

Our group downclimbing from the 13,900ft. false summit (top to bottom: comin2getcha, sdkeil, Randy, my dad):

Had it not been for our route detour, we would have been on the summit an hour and a half earlier; we finally reached the summit at 10:30am for a 15min. break. It was a special day for my dad and I - not many fathers and daughters get to share finishing the Fourteeners with! I'm so proud of you, Dad!

I congratulate my dad on a job well done (left photo), and the group on the summit of Wilson Peak (left to right: comin2getcha, me, Randy, sdkeil, and my dad in back) with El Diente Peak to the right:

Unfortunately, unfavorable weather was building quickly and there was no time to celebrate. We did not want to be anywhere past the Gladstone - Wilson Peak saddle when the rain would start and tried making better time down. Just before reaching the saddle on the descent, a hail storm came, the rock was slick, and we had to slow down to avoid making errors. With the current weather, it was better for us to drop down 50 feet and climb back up (option #2 on Bill's description) to reach the saddle. Gladstone Peak was out.

Heading back to the Rock of Ages Saddle - my hot pink poncho returns, still in tact!

The hail let up and started again during the hike back down to the Bear Creek Trail. We arrived back at the car at 2:40pm (3hrs. 55min. descent time) and headed back to Boulder. It was a wonderful day with a great group of people.

The alternate proposed trail to Wilson Peak to open in 2009 (posted at the TH gate):

 Comments or Questions

Touching moment
02/05/2011 00:22
with Dad on top of Wilson‘s Peak.
As proud as you are of your Dad I bet he is twice as
proud of you. Great job!


08/06/2008 02:33
It must be a wonderful feeling to be present for someone‘s 14er finisher. But for that person to be your Dad has to be truly special. A moment neither of you will soon forget. I can only imagine how proud you two are of eachother. Congratulations !


What an awesome mountain to finish on!
08/06/2008 04:00
I could be biased, though, but what a great finisher! Congrats to your dad ... and to you all!

gdthomas, Jen and I traced that Bear Creek trail with our eyes from the Rock of Ages Saddle. It‘s neat to see a report on it.


08/06/2008 04:07
To your dad for finishing his 14ers. What a great peak to finish on. Looking forward to heading out there soon so you route pics will come in very handy. Thanks for posting.


08/06/2008 13:54
What a fantastic time and memory you now have Caroline!
A great place 4 the finish! when I finally made this summit- there was a father/daughter team there too, and she was nice enuf to lead me up the crux again after summiting = or I prob wouldn‘t have made it! Nice report and keep up the great teamwork


08/06/2008 15:25
the Silver Bullet?

Cool your dad loves this stuff, my dad sure as hell appreciated climbing Elbert years ago


No pictures of Randy‘s growth?
08/06/2008 16:00
Ahhhh it was good to get out on the trail with you again USAKeller, it had been awhile. It was also nice to finally get a 14er in with Fred. With the heat in the city, I was glad we all found a nice cool place. It was too bad we got chased off the summit by the weather.


08/06/2008 16:28
Great and informative report as always Caroline... Missed you on castle, but I see you were busy! The picture of you and your dad hugging on the summit is priceless.

Chicago Transplant

Congrats to Fred!
08/06/2008 17:40
Thanks for posting Caroline, that is so cool that you got to be on your dad‘s finisher
Excellent route info as usual, definitely will come in handy for people trying to skirt the private land!


Beautiful finish....
08/08/2008 05:33
to all who participated.


Nice Job!
08/08/2008 20:10
Congratulations Fred!


08/11/2008 16:55
Congrats to Dad and all !!

past your group on our way down just after you rounded the corner for the big traverse up the north east side. we got stuck for a few minutes during the hail storm on the side of Mt. Wilson before we continued and summitted.


Thanks for all of your comments!
08/13/2008 11:57
It was such an honor for me to be there for my dad on his finisher. Had it not been for him, I would never have began my love for the 14ers. Thanks again for the nice comments - they are very much appreciated!


08/16/2008 16:26
Great description of the new route. Just might try this in two weeks. Are there any spots to camp near the trail head you described or in the beginning of the trail?


Thanks Kzar!
08/17/2008 21:42
As far as camping goes, there are a few spots just on the left side of the parking area in the trees. You‘ll have to walk up 50-100ft. or so, but we saw some tents there. I don‘t think camping should be a problem.


08/19/2008 13:49
to your dad on finishing and thanks for the great beta on the route.


08/19/2008 14:36

Great job! I didnt see this until now.. Looks like it was an awesome day!

Got to climb Wilson soon..


Congratulations and Thanks
08/20/2008 14:55
Your Dad looks like he is in fine shape. What a milestone for him and so great you were there. Thanks for the perfect route description, including to a small extent, what did not work so well; I now know to stay lower on the hike to the saddle


hi there!
06/18/2009 12:44
just one more question about that trailhead...did you park before or after that first stop sign....or where do you park? great report/ trip/ Dad.



11/30/2010 17:28
We parked before the stop sign. I think it took us about 25min. to reach it, so the sign may be no more than a half mile from the trailhead. When you drive that road, the parking area is on the left, just before a yellow gate. You'll know you're there because you can't drive past the gate!

Thanks for the comments!

Steve Bonowski

Wilson Peak: Bear Creek Route
08/18/2009 03:01
Please note that the described Bear Creek Trail above does NOT bypass the private property. The survey done by BLM in 2007 showed the claim boundaries moving up hill to the east and intersecting this route. The property owner is now taking climbers to court for trespass since the route is well signed as private property.

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