North face of Peak 13132 ft
Name: This peak is officially unnamed.
Rank:: Peak 13132 ft is Colorado’s 543rd highest ranked peak.
For more information about Bear Creek Trail, see this Summitpost Page.
Peak 13132 ft rises at the eastern end of Bear Creek Canyon in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado near the town of Ouray. Bear Creek Canyon is a spectacular gorge with sheer walls that rise hundreds of feet above Bear Creek. In the late 1800s, gold and silver were discovered in the upper portions of Bear Creek Canyon. In order to access the mines, a trail was carved into the walls of the canyon. This trail has now turned into a popular hike that takes you from Route 550 to the remains of Grizzly Bear and Yellow Jacket Mines giving you fantastic views of the canyon. To reach Peak 13132 ft, you must leave the trail at Yellow Jacket Mine and hike up another 2000 vertical feet. This creates a strenuous but scenic 12.7 mile roundtrip hike with more than 4600 ft of vertical.
A much easier way to reach Peak 13132 ft is to drive the Engineer Pass Jeep Road to the 12800 ft Engineer Pass. You can then hike to the top of the 13260 ft Darley Mountain, or bypass it over the 12600 ft high American Flats Plateau, to reach the base of the eastern ridgeline of Peak 13132 ft. Such an approach will obviously require much four wheel driving and much less hiking.
West face of Peak 13132 ft from Bear Creek Trail between Grizzly Bear & Yellow Jacket Mines
Getting ThereDirections to Bear Creek Trailhead:
From the south end of Ouray, drive 2 miles south on Route 550 and go through the small tunnel. Immediately on the south side of the tunnel you will see a parking area and sign for Bear Creek Trail.
Route, via Bear Creek Trail
All distances are per my GPS. The sign at the trailhead says 2.4 miles to Grizzly Bear Mine and 4.2 miles to Yellow Jacket Mine.
At the parking area, go to the west side of Route 550 at the southern entrance of the tunnel and find the Bear Creek Trail. The trail takes you right over the top of the tunnel. Abrams Mountain will be well visible to the south.
The trail goes into a forest and makes many switchbacks going up a steep slope. Whitehouse Mountain and Mount Ridgeway will at times come to view.
As you go higher, trees go away and the trail can be seen as a pathway carved into the steep rocky slope.
At some of the switchbacks, you can look north to see the town of Ouray and parts of Route 550. You may feel like a rock climber far up a wall.
The Red Mountains can be seen to the south.
Another view of Route 550.
After 1.1 miles and 1000 vertical feet up, the trail turns east and enters Bear Creek Canyon far above the bottom of the canyon. For the next half mile or so, the trail appears as a pathway dug into the walls of the canyon. This is the most dramatic looking part of the hike.
As you keep going, the bottom of the canyon begins to rise getting closer to the trail. A forest of Aspen Trees appears. You will then reach the remains of Grizzly Bear Mine.
The 2 miles between Grizzly and Yellow Jacket Mines consist mostly of an Aspen forest. The trail stays near the bottom of the valley.
Peak 13132 ft finally comes to view to the east but as you keep going, it goes out of view again.
To the west the jagged summit of Mt. Sneffels and its entourage appear.
You will then reach the remains of Yellow Jacket Mine. If you continue on the trail a short distance toward Engineer Pass, you will see this pretty waterfall.
A sign at Yellow Jacket Mine may point to Horsethief Trail & Engineer Pass Trail in the same direction. The USGS Map shows a trail that goes up the slope above Yellow Jacket Mine to enter the valley to the north of Peak 13132 ft. This trail probably branches off of the Engineer Pass Trail a short distance beyond Yellow Jacket Mine (and not directly above the mine). I decided to leave trail at Yellow Jacket Mine and went directly up a steep grassy slope to the east/northeast of the mine. Soon Peak 13132 ft and this rocky point came to view.
More views of the Mt. Sneffels group to the west.
I was now in the grassy valley to the north of Peak 13132 ft. A trail appeared. I suspected that this trail separated from Engineer Pass Trail a short distance beyond Yellow jacket Mine.
As the north face of Peak 13132 ft came into full view, it appeared that its western ridgeline might be easier to climb than the eastern ridgeline. Grassy slopes, however, went much farther up on the approach to the eastern ridgeline so I decided to go up the grassy valley to reach the base of the eastern ridgeline of Peak 13132 ft.
Near the base of the ridgeline, it did not look promising.
At 12700 ft, I reached a saddle at the base of the eastern ridgeline. Great view of Darley Mountain appeared to the south.
The hike up the ridgeline turned out to be not bad at all. Some scrambling needed among the rocks.
Views from the summit of Peak 13132 ft: