Minnehaha Basin

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 37.89000°N / 107.62°W
Additional Information Route Type: Hike
Additional Information Time Required: Most of a day
Additional Information Difficulty: Walk-up
Sign the Climber's Log


See Getting There.

Route Description

Trailhead Elevation: 10617 ft
One way distance per my GPS: 2.9 miles (1.9 miles on a moderately rough 4WD road that can be driven to shorten the hike to 1 mile)
Approximate Hiking Time: 3 hours (one way uphill)
Maps: US Geological Survey, Colorado (you will need both "Ironton" and "Handies Peak" grids), call 1-800-HELP-MAP or buy the entire state of Colorado on CD-ROM "www.maps.nationalgeographic.com/topo/". I also recommend Drake Mountain Maps, "Map of the Mountains of Silverton, Telluride & Ouray" (scale 1:60000), (505) 988-8929 (This map shows the 4WD roads more accurately than the USGS map).

At the trailhead, you will find two 4 wheel drive roads: one heading north and one south. The north road is signed as San Juan County Route 53 (the numbers are not shown on the Drake Map). Hike 53 about 100 ft till you reach Route 51 to the right. Turn right on this road and follow it up a couple of switchbacks through a Pine forest till you reach the junction of a nameless 4 wheel drive road on the left below the Minnehaha Basin (11500 ft). Turn left on this road and follow it up into the left (north) side of Minnehaha Basin where you reach an abandoned mine/mill (11850 ft). At this point, you have come 1.9 miles from Gladstone. You could have driven to here on the road which is classified as moderately rough.

At the mine/mill, the road makes a switchback and goes around a ridge on the north side of Minnehaha Basin to enter a drainage below the summit of Bonita Peak. The road here is much rougher but it is easy to hike. You will find a few abandoned shacks on the ridge. Once below the summit (12300 ft), you should leave the road and head straight up the very steep grassy slopes (the road eventually dead ends at Upper Gold King Mine). I approached the rocky summit of Bonita from the southwest where I was able to climb it without any difficulties.

Essential Gear

Hiking boots.

Miscellaneous Info

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