Handies was the easiest 14er I've done so far, but it was beautiful to hike through the forest near the stream, up to the basin with a cirque all the way around you. The marmots were out and plentiful. If you prefer solitude I definately recommend the eastern/Grizzly Gulch approach. We descended down into American Basin and it was pretty crowded. We didn't see anybody else on the Grizzly Gulch side until we reached the last scramble to the top, then we saw a lone climber down in the basin 2000 ft below.
What a gorgeous hike. Once above treeline, the trail follows a mountain stream, and in the summer there are lots of wildflowers. There were also lots of marmots out. Although it was probably 70 degrees out when I was at 12,500', half an hour later it was snowing on me. Fortunately it cleared up and after waiting out the snow, I made it up to the summit no problem.
WOW! American Basin is one of the most scenic places I have had the privilege to visit in Colorado. I went at the right time because the wildflowers were absolutely incredible. They were everywhere and there were numerous varieties and colors. There were some waterfalls in the area and the scraggy mountains in the backdrop (one of them is a century peak) made for a very enjoyable hike. I was just snapping away with the camera.
As for the hike up to the peak it was pretty easy, but the last 500 feet to the summit I would say was the hardest. Nothing really difficult but a good climbers trail. The top of Handies in my opinion has the best views of the San Juan’s. Its right in the middle of the range and you can see everything. I sat at the top for and hour and fifteen minutes and headed back down with a nice lady I met at the summit. She wasn’t intending on doing the summit but here dog took off and she followed him all the way to the summit.
All I can say about Handies is WOW. It probably isn’t as scenic when the wildflowers die out for the year thou.
This is as non-technical hike there is. A perfect hike to a wonderful summit. Great views of Half Peak and wildflowers galore.
A wonderful mountain. My first 14er in the San Juans on my first trip to the San Juans. We summited right after 9-11. The CMC (or someone) had planted an American flag at the top. A memorable ascent.
Great hike! I want to do this one in the winter next.
I PROPOSED to my wife Melissa on the summit! This was her first 14er and she had battled back from pnemonia to get here. What a day!
Nice trail to the top from American Basin that switchbacks up near a lake (Sloan Lake, I think).
We were up in two hours, and spent almost an hour on the summit in perfect weather. For once this year our view were NOT obscured by smoke or haze!
After driving from Washington (essentially sea level) to Colorado the day before and camping at the trailhead, I was afraid of altitude issues on the first day out. But we both did fine. The area has been extremely dry, so the wildflowers were disappointingly at a minimum. Also, with all the fires, probably predominantly the big Arizona one, the air was very hazy and the views were limited. Nice mountain though, and a very enjoyable day.
My son, Patrick, and I planned on doing Redcloud and Sunshine but when we woke up at the trailhead there were lots of people getting ready to climb. We decided to move up the road to American Basin and climb Handies to avoid the crowd. The climb went well except when we got to the summit, there were all those same people. They had used the Grizzly Gulch route. Guess I should have talked to someone before changing my mind. This has got to be the best viewing summit around.
Climbed 4 times during Hardrock 100 1998-2001 from Grouse - American Basin and Rocky Gulch - south ridge, also Grizzly Gulch while training in 1996, 1997.
Did late in the day, after doing the other two in the area
1 time during training with some friends and then summated a few days later during an endurance event in july of '98, had to wait out intense storm just a few hundred feet below the summit.
Amazing in late-July when the flowers and marmots are in full bloom...I probably saw twenty marmots running around me.
An easy stroll through a beautiful area. Highly recommended for first time 14er's.
This is considered a "classic" approach because of its beauty. A bit longer than the approach from American Basin, but well worth it in my opinion. A very scenic approach as well as a superb summit view. You can't see a road or a city from the summit.... only mountains for 360 degrees.
Hiked in a heavy rain storm with high winds and hail up top...
A easy hike but well worth it in July for the mountain flowers.
I actually climbed Handies yesterday as I post this. There was still a lot of snow, so I think that made the hike more difficult than it would be normally. It was my first climb, and I had a bad headache afterward, but I did get a lot of cool pictures from the summit.