“A San Juan 13er with great 360-degree views from Purgatory to Silverton.”
— Kaylee M
River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers
Need to Know
If there is a fork in the trail, always choose the left side. There are fallen trees blocking much of the second mile of this trail.
The hike to this trail starts with 1.1 miles on Crater Lake Trail #623
up switchbacks through a pine forest. After these switchbacks, the trail will flatten out and come to a fork; turn left (east). This trail will appear to head straight toward Snowdon Peak through a meadow.
After the meadow, there is some climbing through pine forest. Then you'll reach a clearing where you can again see Snowdon Peak. To the left (east) there is a steep grassy couloir which leads to the saddle and peak (12,628 ft.). The trail here has no switchbacks and is strenuous to hike. When you reach the ridgeline, go right (southwest) across the ridgeline toward the peak. There you'll reach a second saddle.
After this saddle, the ascent is mostly scrambling. Keep to the left (southeast) on the ridgeline, and you'll see some cairns marking the trail over the ridgeline. Continue following a cairn-marked trail that will lead off the main ridge and onto the east side of the mountain. This is to avoid some more difficult obstacles farther up the ridge.
Contour across the east face some, losing perhaps a little elevation, and then contour a little more. Begin heading up with some serious ascending, at times on some very steep terrain of combined rock and tundra that requires some Class 3 scrambling. Generally, the specific trail at this point is quite difficult to find, but just keep making your way up.
From the summit, you'll enjoy beautiful views of the Needles, and Engineer Mountain can be seen as well as Molas Lake and Silverton in the distance.