Hiking the Animas Forks Catwalk

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Hiking the Animas Forks Catwalk

Carolyn Wilber relishes the initial climb up the ridgecrest toward Animas Forks Mountain. The Animas River roils in the trench below, while peaks of the Weminuche Wilderness surround.
Hikers descend the steep approach to The Catwalk.
Six climbers from Durango walk the precipice as they approach the summit of Wood Mountain.

Hiking the Animas Forks Catwalk

Carolyn Wilber relishes the initial climb up the ridgecrest toward Animas Forks Mountain. The Animas River roils in the trench below, while peaks of the Weminuche Wilderness surround.
Hikers descend the steep approach to The Catwalk.
Six climbers from Durango walk the precipice as they approach the summit of Wood Mountain.
Trail basics

Travel: In a four-wheel-drive, high-clearance vehicle with sturdy tires, from Durango, drive 47 miles 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. In 11.5 miles, 0.5 miles before reaching the premiere ghost town of Animas Forks, there is a brown sign directing you to go right for Cinnamon Pass. You are now on the Alpine Loop. At 11.8 miles, stay right. Drive over bedrock outcrops with uneven ledges. At 12.1 miles, there is a sign where the roads to Engineer Pass and Cinnamon Pass split. Make a sharp switchback to the right. This initial shelf section has some off-camber bedrock. The track is steep, narrow and rocky. Park on the left at 12.9 miles. Allow 1 hour, 45 minutes from Durango. For four-wheel-drive vehicles without high clearance, park at the outhouse just beyond the Cinnamon Pass turnoff.
Distance and Elevation Gain: 5 miles; 2,700 feet of climbing. If starting from County Road 2, add 800 feet and 1.6 total miles.
Time: 3½ to 5 hours from the parking area at 11,760 feet
Difficulty: Off-trail; navigation moderate; Class 2+; moderate exposure
Map: Handies Peak, Colorado 7.5 Quad

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