Though relatively low in elevation by Colorado standards, Landsend peak together with it's larger neighbor Mount Lamborn dominate the North Fork Valley. Due to it's position at the edge of the West Elk range Landsend peak receives little snow in comparison to the interior mountains. Landsend also has very good southern exposure resulting in the south side of the mountain being snow free from March to November.
Lamborn (left) and Landsend (right) from the Western Rim of Gunnison Gorge
Since no peaks exist directly to the south or west the summit offers unobstructed views of the entire northern San Juans, La Sals and Grand Mesa as well as the canyons near Black Canyon. There are some views of the interior West Elks and a striking view of Capital from near the summit. The mountains in this area of the West Elks require a lot of physical effort despite the modest elevations. Roads are difficult, trail heads are low in elevation, and trails, if they exist are usually in poor condition. There is no formal trail to the summit of Landsend Peak, however good trails exist to achieve the saddle between Mount Lamborn and Landsend Peak and from there is is mostly a forest hike / bushwhack to the summit (a trip report mentions "Don’t attempt Landsend unless you have a sick pleasure of extreme bushwacking!"). These routes (Bell Canyon or Inter-Ocean Pass) approach the summit from the north so they will not be snow free as early as the southwest side. Vehicle access will be difficult for Bell Canyon and Inter-Ocean Pass routes and will restrict access to Summer and Fall only. Approaching the mountain directly from the South or West is realistic if private property issues can be avoided. This direct route however is steep and on loose rocks with little dirt or vegetation to hold the mountain together. This can best be describes as an absolute knee killer over 3000 - 4000 ft of elevation gain. You will welcome the brief stretches of scree. The lower part will require bushwhacking through scrub oak. There are areas of burned scrub oak from a prescribed burn intended to improve the Big Horn Sheep habitat (If you hike through this you will end up looking like a chimney sweep). Despite these negative issues, if you are looking for good year around access as well as early and late year workout (and knee killer), Landsend peak, directly from the south or southwest will provide this. To my knowledge no routes, with good judgment should exceed class 2 +.
The North Fork Valley. Mount Lamborn and Landsend are in the center
Access is from Bell Canyon to the west, Inter-Ocean Pass to the east or directly from Cottonwood Creek Rd. to the south west which is a paved county maintained road. Inter-Ocean pass can be accessed via 4WD roads form Paonia or Crawford (both ways have a lot of scrub oak which will scratch your vehicle pretty good) The Paonia side is through a confusing maze of roads towards lone cabin resevior. Bell Canyon is accessed from Lamborn mesa and a network of confusing 4WD roads. Detailed direction to Bell Canyon exist on the Mount Lamborn SummitPost page. Suffice to say, even with these directions a good map is recommended for the last few miles. All dirt roads in this area are difficult when wet. The mud is thick adobe clay that will have you sliding of shelf roads like they are iced over, or sinking in to the point where ATV's have been known to get stuck. Try to make sure the roads are dry and remember in the spring, snow melt will often follow these roads making them muddy even when the weather has been dry for a few days.
If accessed from the south and west private property may be an issue, however there is a stretch of BLM that extends from Young's Peak near Crawford to the National Forest below Landsend Peak. This is accessible form Cottonwood Creek road. Look for Wiley Springs on the map. If you start from the BLM land and aim towards Wiley Springs you should avoid private property. The 4WD drive roads in the area should be avoided when wet.
There are no restrictions for camping in the national forest in this area. Crawford State Park offers the nearest developed camp sites in the immediate area and can serve as a good base camp to access the North Rim of Black Canyon NP. Fishing is available at Crawford State Park however in my experience catching is rare. Smith Fork Ranch offers a dude ranch sort of vacation if you are into that sort of thing.
Gunnison National Forest.
2250 Highway 50
Delta, CO 81416
NWS Forecast for 9400 ft near Crawford Colorado.
It's the mountains and the weather can be different up high. Use good judgment.
Trip Report by ShknBke
Leon & Lamborn: A County Highpoint Weekend and Then Some
Crawford State Park
For a guest ranch experience
Smith Fork Ranch