Organ Mountain is the distinctive peak directly east of San Luis Peak in the La Garita Range. The impressive basalt columns on its south face give rise to its name due to their resemblance to organ pipes. Despite its imposing appearance from the south and San Luis, the peak is relatively easy to climb from most directions. Grassy shoulders give way to rocky slopes high up similar to the other peaks in the area. However Organ Mountain is also home to the most exciting established route in the area. The West Ridge connects Organ Mountain to San Luis Peak via Point 13,477 and allows both peaks to be climbed in a day from either of the main trailheads, but features a large gap in the ridge halfway across necessitating a downclimb into a steep and loose gully to bypass the obstacle.
The routes up the mountain are mentioned in Rosebrough's San Juan guide and described in detail in Roach's Thirteeners guide. Roach's Fourteener book may be helpful if you intend on including San Luis Peak in your itinerary. Approaches to the trailheads are best described in Roach's Thirteener guide except the West Willow Creek which Roach describes well in the Fourteener guide.
Three trailheads provide convenient access to Organ Mountain. These are the Stewart Creek Trailhead and Eddiesville Trailhead on the east side of the mountain and the West Willow Creek Trailhead to the southwest.
Stewart Creek Trailhead
This trailhead is the most popular for climbing San Luis. It also provides easy access to the high thirteeners in the area - Stewart Peak and Organ Mountain. Routes accessed from this trailhead include the West Ridge and North Slopes. Reaching this route involves a long drive from civilization along forest roads.
From US 50 take CO 114 which follows Cochetopa Creek. Take the turn to Dome Lakes SWA (County NN-14) and follow it to the end of the reservoir. At this point turn right on County 15-GG/2166/Cochetopa Rd which has a sign for the trailhead. Continue on this road (turns into FR794) to the trailhead.
From CO 149 take FR 788 which leaves the highway near Slumgullion Pass. The road is also known as Los Pinos-Cebolla Road. Continue to the three way junction at Cathedral and take a right to stay on FR 788. Just after Los Pinos Pass go right on FR 790 which heads south and stay on it past the Cebolla Trailhead. After ten miles on FR 790 go right on FR 794.28 and follow that until it joins FR 794. Go right until you reach the trailhead.
The Stewart Creek Trail sees much traffic from San Luis hikers and is easy to follow. To climb the North Slopes route refer to more detailed route descriptions in the two guidebooks mentioned above. For the West Ridge Route continue up the valley to the 13,100' saddle between Organ and San Luis.
The Eddiesville Trailhead accesses the East Slopes and South Slopes routes, and can be used to climb San Luis, do the West Ridge Route, and then descend the East Slopes route.
To reach the trailhead, follow the directions for the Stewart Creek Trailhead and then continue up the road a quarter mile further to the end of the road.
For climbing the East Slopes route, it is best to refer to Roach's Thirteener guide since it does not follow a standard trail. The South Slopes and San Luis are approached by taking the Colorado Trail south into the Cochetopa Creek drainage and turning north at the approapriate mountain.
West Willow Creek Trailhead
This trailhead starts at the old Equity Mine along West Willow Creek. It can be used to access the South Ridge route on San Luis via the Colorado Trail and from there the West Ridge of Organ Mountain. Continuing on the Colorado Trail you can climb the South Slopes route after descending into the Cochetopa Creek drainage.
The trailhead is reached from Creede by taking FR 503 north out of town and following it until it makes a sharp 180 degree turn at its northernmost point at a three way intersection. Take the road north (still FR 503) as it continues along West Willow Creek until you reach parking at the Equity Mine. A 4x4 road leads off to the left shortly before the parking area and travels up the valley a little further to another parking area.
From the 4x4 parking hike north to a three way junction with the Colorado Trail at a saddle and head east. After two more saddles you reach the South Ridge route of San Luis. Continuing on the Colorado Trail accesses the South Slopes of Organ Mountain.
Organ Mountain is located in the La Garita Wilderness Area in Gunnison National Forest.
The page linked here provides a variety of useful information. Contact info for the Gunnison Ranger Station is below:
Ranger District Address
216 N. Colorado
Gunnison, CO 81230
When To Climb
Organ Mountain is most easily climbed during the summer, fall, and spring after the roads open up. It would be an easy climb in the winter except possibly the West Ridge which may have treacherous conditions in the gully. Alan Ellis also mentions that there is a gate near the beginning of the road to the Stewart Creek Trailhead that is closed in winter. Likely the best way to reach Organ Mountain in the winter and spring is from Creede. I was nearly able to drive to the Equity Mine parking area in May, but had to cross several snow patches. Snow in the area requires a much longer approach but rewards those hardy enough with numerous beautiful ski slopes and simple snow climbs to quiet summits. Whenever you climb, you can almost count on being the only person on the mountain even with the proximity of a 14er!
Camping is available at the trailheads and at many beautiful locations in the La Garita Wilderness. Backpacking in to a backcountry camp is nearly a requirement in the snowy months but also gives the opportunity to climb several summits in the summer.