Historical mining activity is very evident in the Platte Gulch approach to McNamee Peak.
13 Jun 09
Rising to 13,780 feet and bearing an official, USGS name, McNamee Peak rises only 80 feet from the low point of the connecting saddle with ranked Clinton Peak (13,857 ft.), rendering McNamee an unranked but named Colorado Thirteener.
McNamee Peak sits in the middle of a trio of Thirteeners that rise at the western terminus of Platte Gulch, the headwaters for the Middle Fork of the South Platte River. The views from this center highpoint are fantastic, especially to the southwest, where the panorama includes Mount Tweto and Mount Arkansas at the headwaters of the East Fork Arkansas River.
Combing an ascent of McNamee Peak with ascents of neighbors Clinton Peak and Traver Peak via the “CT Clipper” route provides for a well-rounded outing with plenty of time on high ridges above timerline. Each peak allows for a slightly different perspective on the surrounding scenery than its neighbor.
Tenmile / Mosquito
Trails Illustrated Map:
#109 Breckenridge, Tennessee Pass
Rank and prominence information: Lists of John
McNamee Peak is located on the Continental Divide on the border of Park County and Lake County. Two trailheads provides western access from Hwy 91, though this access may be complicated by private mine holdings and the Climax mining operation. The peak is most frequently accessed via the Wheeler Jeep Road from Montgomery Reservoir.
Click map image to enlarge
Montgomery Reservoir Trailhead (10,920 feet)
Located off of Hwy 9, this trailhead provides eastern access with limited private property hassles. Parking is available along the banks of the Montgomery Reservoir or as far up the Wheeler Jeep Trail as you and your vehicle dare to go.
Clinton Reservoir Trailhead (11,060 feet)
This trailhead is located along Hwy 91 and allows access to Clinton Peak’s northwest ridge. According to my map, accessing McNamee peak from this trailhead involves traversing private land the entire route. I do not know, however, if the property is posting or if access limitations to the property are enforced.
Fremont Pass Trailhead (11,040 feet)
Also located along Hwy 91, provides access to McNamee Peak via Ceresco Ridge. Private property and the Climax Mine operations are potential issues with this access point, however.
If approaching McNamee peak from the east from Montgomery Reservoir, be aware that camping is NOT allowed at the Montgomery Reservoir
to protect this Colorado Springs Utilities water source.
As noted in the “Getting There” section, western access is complicated by private land and mining operations.
West Facing Wall
13 Jun 09
Camping & Lodging
Views from McNamee Peak summit
13 Jun 09
Approaching McNamee Summit
13 Jun 09
Plenty of primitive backcountry camping can be had along the Platte Gulch, but be forwarned that private land holdings are an issue in this drainage. Furthermore, the Wheeler Jeep Road is popular with off-road enthusiasts, some of whom travel from across the country to test their skils and equipment on this 4x4 test piece, resulting in limited privacy for campers.
It is important to reiterate that there is no camping allowed at the Montgomery Reservoir, to protect this Colorado Springs Utilities water source.
National Forest Campgrounds
There are no National Forest developed campgrounds in the immediate vicinity of Hoosier Pass or the Montgomery Reservoir, but several are available in the greater Fairplay-Alma area.
Hotels, Cabins & B&Bs
Blue River & Breckenridge
|Number of Sites
|Buffalo Springs Campground
A wide variety of lodging options can be found in Breckenridge and Blue River, ranging from simple hotel rooms to luxury mountain retreats. Rates may be moderate in the shoulder season (spring and fall) and tolerable in the summer. Expect astronomical lodging rates during the winter ski season.
Detailed information on Breckenridge area lodging (including Blue River) may be found here: Breckenridge Area Lodging
Fairplay & Alma
On the other side of Hoosier Pass, the communities of Fairplay and Alma provide a more laid-back atmosphere and more reasonable prices for lodging. Fewer hotel rooms and lodges exist on this side of the pass, but privately-owned rental cabins can allow for ample privacy with all of the comforts of home.
Detailed information about lodging in Fairplay and Alma may be found here: South Park Area Lodging
Weather & SeasonsWinter:
Thanks to the need of Colorado Springs Utilities to access the Montgomery Reservoir year-round, the road to the reservoir may be plowed during snow season providing winter access from the east. Note that the eastern access takes the hiker up a steep-sided gulch that should be approached cautiously during snow season due to avalanche danger.
Spring is a delightful time to enjoy a warm-weather snow climb in this basin, provided snow slope conditions have stabilized. Deep snow drifts along the Wheeler Jeep Road keep all but the most die-hard 4x4 crowds away, providing for solitude and quiet. Bring an axe for several moderate snow slopes, particularly those slopes dividing the lower basin from the upper basin.
Summer would be a pleasant time to enjoy this part of the high country, though the eastern access from Montgomery Reservoir could be quite crowded due to the popularity of this area with fishing families and casual sight-seers.
The time between the first nip of autumn in the air and the first heavy snowfall could make for a pleasant visit to McNamee peak and its neighbors. Be prepared for cold temperatures and the reliably blasting, jet-engine roar of wind on the Continental Divide.