This provides those that are closer to Silverton than Lake City non-four wheel drive access to Handies Peak. The total round trip distance is 8.9 miles to the summit of Handies Peak. The trail goes up Grouse Gulch to a saddle with American Peak, then traverses the head of American Basin before joining the American Basin approach trail. Caution should be exercised during avalanche prone times, as trail crosses avy chutes of American Peak.
From the courthouse in Silverton, head out of town following 110 to the right (NNE). There will be a river crossing at Eureka around mile 8 (the road closes here in winter). Continue up hill a little more than 3 miles to trail head. The first section of the Grouse Gulch Trail is an old mining road (closed off with boulders) directly above entrance to Burns Gulch (open to high clearance vehicles). The trail head is about 100 yards past the river crossing on the right.
The trail switchbacks up hill at first, then follows a steam on a more gentle grade to the head of Grouse Gulch. It is approximately 2 miles to the saddle of American Peak, where you can see Handies Peak across American Basin. The trail then drops down into American Basin and traverses below American Peak. At an elevation of 12,400, you join trail that is coming up from American Basin. The trail then climbs to a saddle at 13,400 where you continue north to Handies Peak.
Nothing special. Possibly crampons and axe when snow is present in upper American Basin.
"If you don't risk going to far, you will never know how far you can go."