The great west block traverse of the La Plata Mountains

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The great west block traverse of the La Plata Mountains

Connect Parrott Peak through to Madden, Star and Gibbs
Rich Butler powers up the summit ridge of Gibbs Peak. Look south to review the long chain of mountains on the traverse.
Hike generally west on the Snowslide Gulch Trail to the east ridge of Parrott Peak. From Parrott, hike north cresting Madden, Star, and Gibbs. Descend on the east ridge of Gibbs and intersect Gibbs Road. Return to CR 124 on the Madden Creek Trail.
Travel basics

Travel: A 1.5 mile shuttle is required. From the U.S. 160/550 intersection in Durango, travel 11 miles west to Hesperus. Turn north on La Plata Canyon Road, County Road 124. The hike begins at Snowslide Gulch, 5.3 miles from the highway. There is a large parking pullout on the east side of the road. A no camping sign by a large boulder marks the spot. Drop the shuttle vehicle just north of signed Madden Creek, 6.8 miles from U.S. Highway 160.


Distance and Elevation Gain: 9.0 miles; 4,900 feet of climbing


Time: 6½ to 8½ hours


Difficulty: Mostly off-trail; navigation challenging; steep slopes; mild exposure and garbage rock on the south and east ridges of Gibbs Peak.


Maps: Hesperus; La Plata, CO 7.5’ Quads or Apogee Mapping

The great west block traverse of the La Plata Mountains

Rich Butler powers up the summit ridge of Gibbs Peak. Look south to review the long chain of mountains on the traverse.
Hike generally west on the Snowslide Gulch Trail to the east ridge of Parrott Peak. From Parrott, hike north cresting Madden, Star, and Gibbs. Descend on the east ridge of Gibbs and intersect Gibbs Road. Return to CR 124 on the Madden Creek Trail.

The great west block traverse of the La Plata Mountains

Friends converse on Parrott Peak, the first mountain on the traverse. It is located at the south end of the west block of the La Plata Mountains.

The great west block traverse of the La Plata Mountains

Dave Peters, Jodie Petersen, Rich Butler, and Janna Ranson relax on a broad span of ridgeline. Mesa Verde and Sleeping Ute Mountain are in the west.

The great west block traverse of the La Plata Mountains

Hikers sign the Madden Peak summit register. In the north is the ridge walker’s ever-present visual pleasure: Hesperus Mountain, Spiller Peak, The Knife, West Babcock, and Middle Babcock.

The great west block traverse of the La Plata Mountains

Hikers gather on Gibbs Peak after 4,850 feet of climbing. The northern terminus of the traverse, Gibbs is the highest and most difficult of the ascents.
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