Jones Mountain Overview
Jones Mountain veiwed from "American Peak".
Jones Mountain is a handsome summit in the Lake City Region of Colorado's magnificent San Juan Mountains. It is the seventy-eigth highest mountain in Colorado and the highest in a string of three high thirteeners to the southwest of the fourteener Handies Peak. Its companion summits are Niagara Peak to the southwest and "American Peak" to the northeast. It combines well with both of these other summits for a scintillating tour.
Jones Mountain's geology and structure is typical for the Lake City Caldera. Loose volcanic rocks create some magnificently rotten cliffs as well as providing for fertile soils on the expanses of alpine tundra beneath the summits. The region around Lake City consists of some 13 erodded, interlocking, volcanic calderas that serve as silent reminders of the fiery violence that shaped this section of Colorado some 22 million years ago. The summits in the area often mark the rims of these long collapsed magmatic wells. A testament of the instability of the rock in the area is the nearby Slumgullion Landslide, one of the most extensive examples of mass wasting in the nation. 700 years ago a huge escarpment, undermined by gravity and groundwater, slid down the north facing slopes above the Lake Fork of the Gunnison to damn the river and create Lake San Cristobal.
The expanses of alpine tundra in this area offers almost as many delights as the rocky summits. The rolling tundra at the head of Snare Gulch is absolutely gorgeous with its many lakes and extensive fields of wildflowers. The view of nearby Half Peak to the south is stunning from the upper reaches of Snare Gulch.
Although these summits are not in officialy designated wilderness they posses wilderness attributes that outshine many of the more popular "official" wildernesses.
Maps and Directions
Jones is approachable from many fronts, as I have only so far personaly approached from Snare Gulch I shall list this first.
To get to Snare Gulch one must first get to charming Lake City. From downtown Lake City proceed south 2.2 miles to the Lake San Cristobal Road. Turn right here (southwest) and follow the road around Lake San Cristobals west side. Continue on till the junction with the Sherman and Cinamon Pass Roads (14.3 miles from downtown Lake City). Turn left onto Sherman Road and follow it through the Sherman townsite, past the Cataract Gulch Trailhead to where the road becomes too rough for your vehicle. A good parking area exists at the Cuba Gulch Trailhead 3.4 miles further.
No Red Tape. Although official wilderness rules don't apply here please follow them anyway.
When To Climb
The San Juans get monumental snowfalls durring the winter. That limits the climbing season from June through November. Although Avalanche safe routes may exist on Jones Mountain approaching the mountain would require expert Avalache avoidance. The steep sidded drainege of Snare Creek would surely be a dangerous death trap with a heavy blanket of snow.
Excellent camping exists all along Snare Creek. Car camping pullouts are numerous from the Cataract Gulch Trailhead up to the Cuba Gulch Trailhead. An especialy nice campsite is found right were the waterfall from Square Gulch feeds into Snare Creek. A more profound wilderness experience will be had by hiking into upper Snare Gulch. This wonderous high alpine valley features numerous lakes and excellent access to Jones Mountains, Niagara Peak, and "American Peak". A campsite beside the Snare Lake with the island connected to the shore by a natural jetty offers an insurpassable camping experience.