Hurricane Peak is one of the many 13ers that rise between the towns of Ouray and Silverton in the San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado. This mountain is the northwest terminal point of a 1.75 mile long ridgeline that runs NW-SE and rises above 13000 ft. To the southeast of Hurricane Peak, you will find the other three peaks of this ridgeline: Point 13306 ft, Hanson Peak 13454 ft and Point 13270 ft.
At first glance, nothing about the topography of Hurricane Peak may appear as extraordinary, but a closer look reveals that Hurricane Peak towers above four valleys and as such is the source of four rivers:
1) Poughkeepsie Gulch and Uncompahgre River to the north.
2) California Gulch and the West Fork of Animas River to the east and northeast.
3) Eureka Gulch and Eureka Creek to the southeast.
4) The valley of Cement Creek to the west.
Except for a 200 ft rocky/cliffy area on the east face of the summit of Hurricane Peak, the rest of the slopes of this mountain are grassy or scree covered and can be easily negotiated. Thanks to long strings of old mining roads that have been turned into modern day Four Wheel Drive roads, Hurricane Peak can be approached from any of the four valleys around it.
The two shortest routes to the summit of Hurricane Peak start at Hurricane Pass and California Pass. Hurricane Pass is a 12680 ft saddle that separates Hurricane Peak from the 13339 ft Brown Mountain to the west. The road that connects the valley of Cement Creek to Poughkeepsie Gulch crosses this saddle. California Pass is a 12900 ft high point on the road that connects California Gulch to Poughkeepsie Gulch. A longer but much more scenic route starts at an elevation of 12250 ft at the end of the Eureka Gulch Road where the now drained Lake Emma (see Bonita Peak).used to be. This route will take you up grassy slopes to the 12800 ft Sunnyside Saddle between the slopes of Hurricane and Bonita Peaks. You will then hike a trail/two-track to the base of the summit of Hurricane where the final ascent will be a walk-up. The book: "4WD Trails of Southwest Colorado" by Peter Massey and Jeanne Wilson can provide you with good information about the roads (and no information about the mountains). Click for a related site on four wheel driving opportunities and mining history in Eureka Gulch Road.
From the summit of Hurricane Peak, you can see a large network of 4WD roads, including Engineer Pass Road, crisscrossing the surrounding valleys. Some of the most famous peaks of the San Juans such as Mt. Sneffels, Uncompahgre, Handies Peak, Vermilion Peak, the Red Mountains...will be in good view. The nearby 13184 ft California Mountain that has slopes as red as the Red Mountains, will also be well-visible.
Summit registry shows that Hurricane Peak is climbed only a few times a year.
For directions to Hurricane Pass and California Pass, please refer to the above book. I have not been to these areas. The directions for Eureka Gulch Road are as follows:
From Silverton, drive the right (and not the left) branch of Route 110, 8.5 miles to the ghost town of Eureka (elevation 9850 ft). Route 110 is a well-graded dirt road that is passable by any car. About 500 ft after crossing the Animas River, you will see the begining of Eureka Gulch Road to the left.
Turn left onto Eureka Gulch Road (4WD recommended)and follow the road up a steep orange colored scree slope on the west side of the valley of Animas River. To the left, you will have great views of the waterfall and and the steep rocky slopes that form the east wall of the valley of Animas River.
After 0.5 miles, the road turns right and and goes into Eureka Gulch following the creek far above it. You will soon get a view of the very impressive Tower Mountain (13552 ft) and Dome Mountain (13370 ft) at the end of a valley to the left.
2.7 miles after the begining of Eureka Gulch Road (above the treeline at an elevation of 11800 ft), the road crosses to the left side of the creek. Follow the road to the end of it at the site of the drained Lake Emma (12250 ft and 3.5 miles from the begining of the road). This is your trailhead. You will be in a high alpine bowl surrounded by Hanson Peak (13454 ft), Bonita Peak (13286 ft) and Emery Peak (13310 ft). Hurricane Peak will not be visible. You will see abandoned mines and other structures scattered around the slopes.