Hiking Uncompahgre Peak (14,309')
Colorado › Upper Nellie Creek Trailhead
Added by Greg Owens
- Summit of the highest peak in the San Juan Mountains
- Outstanding views
- 7 mile roundtrip hike
- Elevation gain of just under 3000'
At 14,309 feet, the summit of Uncompahgre Peak is the highest point in the entire San Juan range, but getting to it requires only good hiking skills, good physical shape, and a four-wheel-drive, high-clearance vehicle to get to the trailhead.
From Lake City, head west along the Alpine Loop about 5 miles to a turnoff (right) for Nellie Creek. The next four miles to the trailhead are extremely rough along a narrow road along which there are few places to pass. (Traversing the road is arguably the toughest part of getting to the summit!)
The trail climbs steadily from about 11,400 feet to about 13,800’ over a little over three miles. From late July through mid-August, you may very well find the surrounding hillsides covered with wildflowers. At the crest of the ridge, you’ll climb through some loose rock for about 150’; there are good stair-steps to guide you through this section. Afterward, you’re on the upper slopes with an easy walk to the summit, where you get spectacular views of the surrounding landscape, including nearby Wetterhorn Peak (14,015’). The total distance from the trailhead to the summit is just over 3.5 miles with an elevation gain of just under 3000 feet.
- Trekking pole or walking stick
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The view of the surrounding San Juan Mountains is jaw dropping. If you're an avid explorer of the area you can spot many areas you've likely visited from the summit. Getting to the upper TH can be interesting but doable with high clearance 4WD.
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