Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 37.65510°N / 107.7168°W
Additional Information County: San Juan
Activities Activities: Hiking, Mountaineering
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall
Additional Information Elevation: 12932 ft / 3942 m
Sign the Climber's Log


West Needle MountainWest Needle Mountain from the summit of 12932
SaddleSaddle right 1/3 of photo is your goal, and then you bypass on the other side the 12,800 point
Unnamed 12932 is a ranked peak located in West Needle Mountains of San Juan Mountain Range. The peak is usually climbed together with West Needle Mountain (my combination), or even a bigger loop including also Twilight Peaks. It is a long way in and most people venture here as an overnight trip and sleep by Crater Lake. 

Why unnamed? There are many unnamed peaks in Colorado, there are simply just too many peaks. Colorado has 676 ranked 12ers = peaks > 12,000 feet (=3657 meters), 584 13ers = peaks over 13,000 feet (= 3962 meters),  and 54 14ers = peaks over 14,000 feet (= 4267 meters). 

Why to summit an unnamed 12er? It is a ranked summit. For peak baggers trying to reach highest 1,000 peaks in Colorado, this one is on their list. And for those seeking solitude, they are guaranteed to find one on this adventure. 

Colorado Rank: 693

Parent Lineage: Line Parent: Twilight Peak.  Proximate Parent: West Needle Mountain

Wilderness:  Weminuche Wilderness: in 1993 Congress expanded the Weminuche Wilderness to include the rugged West Needle Mountains, wedged between a deep gorge of the Animas River and Lime Creek south of the Molas Pass. Only one trail, Crater Lake Trail, penetrates this segment of the wilderness. 

Class: 2+

Getting There

Andrew Lake Trailhead: Located on US highway 550 is 8.5 miles south from Silverton, just past the summit of Molas Pass. The trailhead is well marked. There is a paved road to the parking lot. Parking is free. 


Crater LakeCrater Lake
West Needle MountainWest Needle Mountain as seen from the saddle
Hike to Crater Lake: this is a popular hike and expect people along this nice trail. Crater Lake is a well liked backpacking destination. The whole trail is at high altitude. Trailhead is over 10,000 feet high and the trail is easy to follow. It is about 5.5 miles to the Crater Lake. 

The trail starts from Andrew's Lake, it skirts along its west shore, crosses a meadow and then you enter switchbacks in tree covered hillside. It gains 450 feet in 1.2 miles. Views from meadow around Andrew's Lake, along with intermittent views from switchbacks include West Turkshead Peak and Grand Turk to the north, Twin Sisters and Jura Knob to the west and Snowdon Peak to the southeast. From the top of the hill the trail drops 240 feet into a drainage traversing pretty meadows. A second climb gains 370 feet reaching the top of a hill at 2.4 miles. You start to get views of Engineer Mountain, and as the trail swings east views open to North Twilight Peak to the south. At 4.0 miles you enter heavy timber and you stay in the woods. At 5.1 miles the trail drops into a small depression, skirts a marshy area on the east side and then climbs over a hill to the basin holding Crater Lake. Crater Lake is located at altitude of 11,640 feet and at 5.5 miles. North Twilight Peak rises to the southwest and forms a perfect backdrop for this nice lake. 

There is a smaller trail leading on the east side of Crater Lake up another hill and there the trail disappears, but it is pretty easy going on grassy hills with low willows. If planning to summit Twilight Peaks, head for the saddle between North Twilight Peak and Twilight Peak, if West Needle Mountain is your objective head south towards the saddle between South Twilight Peak and Unnamed 12932 Peak. From this saddle you will get your first view of West Needle Mountain - it does look impressive. 

From the saddle bypass the 12,800 point (unranked) and keep traversing on its south side towards 12932. There is a nice class 2 talus gully leading to the summit. I made a cairn on the summit and left a register there. 

I chose to descent a slightly different way down, more heading towards the north ridge of West Needle Mountain, but would not recommend this route.  

Red Tape

Parking, hiking and backpacking are free. 

Crater Lake area and West Needle Mountains are part of Weminuche Wilderness, so wilderness rules apply. Leave no trace.

When to Climb

Summer and early autumn are obviously the easiest times to explore this area. The trailhead is accessible year round, but the approach would be long in the winter. If traveling in winter times, check North San Juan Avalanche report. 


There is great backpacking along Crater Lake, and also along the Crater Lake Trail. Developed campground would be at Molas Pass.

External Links

12932 on List of John

Hike to Crater Lake