Mount Wilson

 North Slopes
Difficulty Class 4 
Risk FactorsExposure: High
Rockfall Potential: High  
Route-Finding: High  
Commitment: Considerable  
TrailheadNavajo Lake
Start9,350 feet
Summit14,256 feet
Total GainFrom Rock of Ages TH: 5,300 feet
From Navajo Basin TH: 5,100 feet
From Navajo Lake: 3,200 feet
From 12,300' in Navajo Basin: 2,000 feet
RT LengthFrom Rock of Ages TH: 11.5 miles
From Navajo Basin TH: 16 miles
From Navajo Lake: 6.5 miles
From 12,300' in Navajo Basin: 2.25 miles
Last UpdatedOct 2022
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From Telluride, drive south on Colorado 145 to Lizard Head Pass. Continue south for 5.2 miles and turn right onto Forest Road (FR) 535. Drive 4.1 miles on the 2WD dirt road to a large meadow and junction. Stay straight on 535, pass the Kilpacker trailhead at 5 miles and continue another 2 miles (7 total from CO 145) to reach the Navajo Lake trailhead entrance on the right.


From the Rock of Ages trailhead:
Follow the Rock of Ages Approach to Rock of Ages saddle. On the saddle, Mt. Wilson comes into view to the south - 1 and 2. Leave the saddle and follow the trail south down to the upper end of Navajo Basin.

From the Navajo Basin trailhead:
Follow the Navajo Basin Approach toward the upper end of Navajo Basin - 3. Near 12,200', the end of the basin and turn-off to Mt. Wilson is finally visible - 4.

Leave the trail and walk to the base of a shoulder that stretches up to Mt. Wilson's northeast ridge - 5, 6 and 7. Cross the stream and begin the hike south up onto the shoulder . The hiking is relatively easy and there are some trail segments and cairns along the way - 8 and 9. At 13,100', reach the base of a wall which has green, lichen-covered rock - 10 and 11. Look for cairns and climb the center of the green wall. A couple of Easy Class 3 moves will likely be required as you get closer to the top. Reach easier terrain just above 13,400'.

Now, the northeast ridge is above but don't climb to the ridge just yet. As seen in 12, continue up to 13,600' to bypass the garbage terrain off to your right. When the terrain flattens out a bit above 13,600', look for cairns and begin an ascending traverse southwest over rock ribs and gullies - 13. A bit of snow in the gullies can be quite helpful, if you brought crampons. Look for cairns and take your time as you keep an eye on the proper exit point ahead. If you climb too high, crossing the rock ribs becomes more difficult and will involve Class 3+ moves on loose boulders. It's helpful to study the maps and photos before crossing this area. Continue crossing the rock ribs and gullies while gaining some elevation along the way - 14 and 15. Near 14,100', reach your final gully and climb the upper portion to reach a notch in the northeast ridge - 16.

The remaining route involves some Class 3 scrambling and a several Class 4 moves on the summit ridge - 17 and 18. Continue right up to a smaller notch before turning left to follow the narrow summit ridge - 19. Just prior to the summit, you will reach the crux of the climb - a set of rocks which block easy passage - 20 and 21. Climbing to the left is the easiest way around the difficult section to the right requires an exposed Class 4 move which may be uncomfortable for some climbers. After passing the crux, scramble a short distance to the summit - 22, 23 and and 24.


IMPORTANT: This route enters the Lizard Head Wilderness area. Wilderness areas have special regulations and restrictions for party size, dispersed camping, campfires, etc. Also, dog owners should read the wilderness information carefully because some wilderness areas prohibit dogs to be off-leash and/or limit how close dogs can be to lakes and streams. If you have questions about the wilderness area, please contact a U.S. Forest Service office for the National Forest(s) listed above.
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Caution: The information contained in this route description may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. and the author(s) of this route description provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless and the route description author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.

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