Backpack to Wetterhorn Basin

Rate this Adventure Colorado West Cimarron Trailhead

Added by

Come for the wildflowers stay for the solitude. Beautiful mountain streams with breathtaking sunrises and sunsets. Distance: 13 miles RT from 2. WD pull off, 9 miles RT from 4. WD high clearance West Cimmaron Trailhead. Elevation gain: 2,200 feet with 800 feet added on the return = 3,000 feet total. Duration: 3 days. 2 nights.

This trip is for the lover of solitude and the appreciator of the unscathed backcountry. Wetterhorn Basin is in the heart of the beautiful San Juan Mountain range in Southwestern Colorado.

With a 4WD high clearance vehicle start at the West Cimarron Trailhead at 10,750 feet (38.1117N -107.5533W), without, start 1.8 miles down the road at the 2WD pull off (there is a sign).

Follow the West Fork Trail 3.5 miles south to the summit of 12,500 foot West Fork Pass (38.0798N -107.5464W). The trail is well established but numerous washouts throughout the forest can make staying on it tricky. Keep an eye out for cairns. Gaining West Fork Pass with a heavy pack is the most grueling part of the hike. The trail leads up a steep loose head wall where special attention should be paid. The views on the other side are glorious as Wetterhorn Basin and the surrounding mountains open up.

The trail will be swallowed by the amazing vegetation as progression through the basin is made. There are large sticks pointing up every now and then. They are easy to spot and an assurance the right path is being chosen.

There are no established camp spots in Wetterhorn Basin but with a little exploration the perfect home can be found. It is unlikely there will be other people around. What an incredible experience to have such an amazing place to oneself.

There are plenty of hiking, mountain climbing, and rock climbing options in the area but backcountry skills are a necessity as there are no established trails past the basin. Colorado's iconic Wetterhorn Peak (14,015') dominates the views and steals the show.

Make sure to check out Curecanti National Recreational area and the town of Gunnison while in the area. Morrow Point Reservoir provides some fun in the water and Gunnison is full of restaurants, shops, and eclectic charm. I highly recommend Twisted Fork!

Pack List

  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Backpacking essentials
  • Cord to tie food up in trees
  • Water filtration
  • Good trail shoe
  • Map of area
  • Trekking poles
  • Sense of adventure
Read More

How to Get There

Have you done this adventure? Have something to add? You could be the first to leave a review!

Added by Kim Bessler

I am an easy going lover of the outdoors.

Activities:

Chillin, Camping, Backpacking, Hiking

Skill Level:

Advanced

Season:

Spring, Summer, Autumn

Trail Type:

Out-and-Back

Distance:

13 Miles

Elev. Gain:

3000 Feet

Features:

Forest
Romantic
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Are we missing something?

Suggest an edit

More Adventures Nearby

Mountain Bike the Notch Trail

Colorado / Notch Trailhead

The trail is shared by mountain bikers and ATV users. The Notch Trail is located in the San Juan National Forest.  Photos: William Snow, Davey Nin, and Kent Kanouse

Hike the Hidden Valley Loop

Colorado / Hidden Valley Loop Trails

The trail is shared by mountain bikers, hikers, and trail runners. The Hidden Valley Loop offers amazing views of the Animas Valley, especially when the foliage changes in the fall.

Hike the Jones and Dutch Creek Loop

Colorado / Jones Creek and Dutch Creek Trail

The trail is well maintained and is dog friendly. Bring extra water if using this trail in July or August.  Photos: Chris M Morris and Daniel Weber