This route is short but pleasant with a surprisingly fun finish. The route follows a clearly-marked trail through deep woods and meadows for most of its duration until reaching a fun, easy scramble. The summit ridge is wide-open and narrow enough to be exhilarating while solid and wide enough to accommodate more entry-level scramblers. This is a great route to take on in the morning when a half-day outing is desired.
Roundtrip Distance: 3.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,800 feet
YDS Class: 2+ - 3 (easy)
From US 50 between Montrose and Gunnison: Head south on County Road 858 (which becomes FS 858). Note signs to the Silver Jack Reservoir. Pass the Big Cimarron campground and the Beaver Lake Campground. At approximately mile 18, pass Silver Jack campground and the Silver Jack Reservoir. FS 858 loops tightly around the southern end of the reservoir. Continue on FS 858 as it again turns almost due south. At the junction with FS 860, do not follow FS 858 up Owl Creek Pass, but instead head southbound on FS 860. Less than two miles after passing the junction to Owl Creek Pass, arrive at the Courthouse Mountain Trailhead (Forest Trail #218 / #144).
In dry conditions, you do not need high clearance nor do you need 4x4 or all-wheel drive for these graded forest service roads.
Route Description• The first roughly 0.8 miles of this trail travel on gentle terrain through dense forest.
• At approximately 11,000 feet the trail levels off somewhat at the wilderness boundary and you will encounter a route junction . Follow the signpost pointing to Courthouse Mountain, 1 mile away, turning right.
• Charge upward through lovely open meadows until reaching the base of a small whitish rock cliff. Here the easy scrambling begins.
• Ascend the knobby (and crumbling...) rock which goes from steep Class 2+, to perhaps easy Class 3 to more grass.
• From the top of the steep, chalky rock, turn right onto a grassy area. The summit ridge rises obviously above you.
• To reach the actual summit requires a mix of scrambling and ape-walking across a wide but fractured rock ridge.
• A small downclimb of a notch (and reclimb back out) brings you to the apex of the route.
Outerwear appropriate to the season
Map, compass & GPS
Colorado Gazetteer for road navigation