Handies Peak: The Hardrock high point

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Handies Peak: The Hardrock high point

San Juan views aplenty atop close fourteener
Handies Peak, a stone’s throw from its southern neighbor American Peak, is a gentle behemoth embracing all climbers. The Grouse Gulch approach joins the trail emerging from American Basin and passes Sloan Lake before zigzagging up the southern slope to the summit.
A hiker ambles up Handies Peak as sky pilot augers into scree. Sloan Lake is nestled under the multiple north-facing couloirs and rippled crest of American Peak.
Hikers from Durango relax on Handies’ broad summit crown. Directly above them is the cleaved north face of 13,841 foot Half Peak. Rio Grande Pyramid is further right.
The trail rises from the road between Silverton and Animas Forks at 10,700 feet. Walk east up Grouse Gulch to Pass 13,020’. Give up 620 feet before meeting the upcoming trail from American Basin. Follow this heavily trodden track to the peak. The blue-line route is the easier American Basin approach located east of Cinnamon Pass.

Handies Peak: The Hardrock high point

Handies Peak, a stone’s throw from its southern neighbor American Peak, is a gentle behemoth embracing all climbers. The Grouse Gulch approach joins the trail emerging from American Basin and passes Sloan Lake before zigzagging up the southern slope to the summit.
A hiker ambles up Handies Peak as sky pilot augers into scree. Sloan Lake is nestled under the multiple north-facing couloirs and rippled crest of American Peak.
Hikers from Durango relax on Handies’ broad summit crown. Directly above them is the cleaved north face of 13,841 foot Half Peak. Rio Grande Pyramid is further right.
The trail rises from the road between Silverton and Animas Forks at 10,700 feet. Walk east up Grouse Gulch to Pass 13,020’. Give up 620 feet before meeting the upcoming trail from American Basin. Follow this heavily trodden track to the peak. The blue-line route is the easier American Basin approach located east of Cinnamon Pass.
Travel basics

Travel: In a four-wheel-drive vehicle with sturdy tires, from Durango drive 47 miles on U.S. Highway 550 to Silverton. Turn northeast and proceed up Greene Street, the main drag, to the north end of town. Zero-out your trip meter as you make a soft right onto San Juan County Road 2. The dirt road is good at first but degenerates to a slow, rocky surface. Park on the left at a wide pull-out at 10.5 miles, just shy of a bridge over the Animas River. Allow 1 hour, 30 minutes from Durango.


Distance and Elevation Gain: 10 miles; 4,650 feet of climbing


Time: 5½ to 7½ hours


Difficulty: High elevation; established trail; navigation easy; no exposure


Map: Handies Peak, Colorado 7.5 Quad

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