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Wilson Peak

 Southwest Ridge
Difficulty Class 3 
Risk FactorsExposure: High
Rockfall Potential: Considerable  
Route-Finding: Considerable  
Commitment: Considerable  
 
TrailheadRock of Ages
Start10,350 feet
Summit14,021 feet
Total GainFrom Rock of Ages TH: 3,900 feet
From Navajo Basin TH: 5,000 feet
From Navajo Lake: 3,000 feet
RT LengthFrom Rock of Ages TH: 10 miles
From Navajo Basin TH: 16 miles
From Navajo Lake: 7 miles
AuthorBillMiddlebrook
Last UpdatedJun 2024
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Trailhead

From Ridgway, leave U.S. 550 and take Colorado 62 toward Telluride. Drive over Dallas Divide, down to Placerville and turn left onto Colorado 145. Drive 6.7 miles and turn right onto the Silver Pick road (dirt). From here, it's 8.5 miles to the trailhead. Drive 4 miles to an intersection and turn right onto "59 H" which is also Forest Road 622. Continue 2.3 miles, turn right onto FR 645 and continue 2.2 miles to the Rock of Ages trailhead, near 10,350'. Notes: After 1 mile on the FR 645 road, you must cross the stream in Big Bear Creek which usually isn't too bad by mid-July. Also, there are some designated camp sites along this road.

Route

The easiest way to hike only Wilson Peak is by starting at the Rock of Ages trailhead. If that is your starting point, follow the Rock of Ages Approach 4 miles to reach the Rock of Ages saddle, at 13,000' - 1. If you're using the Navajo Basin Approach, hike to 12,300' in upper east end of Navajo Basin and follow a trail north up to Rock of Ages saddle - 2.

From the Rock of Ages saddle , the route continues east - 3. Follow a trail along the saddle and across a rugged slope ( 4, 5 and 6) to reach a small saddle between Gladstone Peak and Wilson Peak - 7. From the small saddle , the route continues around the south side and climbs to southwest ridge - 8 and 9. Next, scramble north through a section of slabs and small ledges - 10 and 11. This section is a bit exposed and gives you a good idea of the level of difficulty you'll face on the final summit pitch.

Beyond the scrambling section, traverse toward the ridge by following cairns and trail segments - 12 and 13. The slope is fairly steep and loose but you'll should find a trail most of the way. Reach the southwest ridge near 13,550' - 14. Staying mostly along the right side of the ridge crest, walk to approximately 13,800' where the trail crosses to the left (north) side. Follow an obvious line 100 feet to the top of a 13,900-foot false summit - 15 and 16.

From the false summit the final section looks daunting if it's your first time on the peak but by taking the correct route, you can avoid dangerous, loose terrain and keep the difficulty at Class 3. Look carefully at photos 17 and 18 to identify a dark gash in the face - you want to traverse toward the gash, without descending too far. Downclimb about 50 feet and begin scrambling across stacked rock and ledges - 19 and 20. Just prior to the gash, climb to your right to reach the ridge crest - 21. Turn left and climb a final section of Class 3 to reach the summit - 22, 23 and 24.

Notes

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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