Needle Mountains loop direction advice

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Needle Mountains loop direction advice

by markhyams » Tue Jul 19, 2011 4:54 pm

I am planning a trip starting and ending at Needleton in the Weminuche. Here is the idea:

-head up to Chicago Basin
-over Columbine Pass, down Johnson Creek to Vallecito Creek
-up Vallecito Creek a ways, and then head west up Sunlight Creek
-head for the pass north of Jagged Mtn, and head down into Noname drainage
-head up to the Noname-Ruby pass, just SE of Monitor Peak
-down Ruby drainage back to Needleton

My question is, which direction for the loop? I can see bonuses both ways. It'd be nice to go up the groomed trail to Chicago Basin with a full pack rather than the sketchy Ruby Lake trail. But how hard is it to find the Ruby Lake trail from above. And the Sunlight Trail, is it easier to find it from above or below? If I was heading down the Needle Creek trail at the end of the trip, it's easy to know how much time to allow to catch the train, but how much time will it take to descend the Ruby Lake trail to Needleton?

For the record, I have been up in Chicago Basin and Noname Basin before, but the rest will be new to me.

Thanks for all the help.


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Re: Needle Mountains loop direction advice

by eldoradolocal » Wed Jul 20, 2011 11:17 pm

Start in Chicago Basin. You might consider going up Leviathan Creek rather than straight up to Jagged, then traverse over a couple of passes to Jagged from the north. Another variation would be to go over the Pigeon/Turret col out of Ruby, then traverse a ways to the SW under the south side of Pigeon and down what we used to call "Tie Creek" back down to the Animas. A very sporting finish would be to descend down NY Basin back to the Chicago Creek Trail. There is some steep ground and tricky route finding getting out of NY, though, and not likely much of a path other than game trails. Despite its proximity to Chicago Basin, NY Basin is the most remote part of the Needles. If you go down Ruby, the Ruby Creek Trail is easier to find from above than below. I don't know what the train schedules are these days, but allow plenty of time.

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Re: Needle Mountains loop direction advice

by yorksman » Thu Jul 21, 2011 6:15 pm

Last year I went solo from Needleton north along the river then upto the No Name drainage, camped just below the lake at Jagged Pass just north of Jagged. Next morning I dropped over Jagged Pass hooked a right around to Sunlight lake, slept to the south and higher of the lake. Next morning headed directly east and went over the notch/pass just north of Windom then around and summited Window. Back down to Chicago Basin and onto Needleton. Did this with all camping gear and a reasonable amount of photoghraphy gear. Drop me a line if you have any questions, I can probably send you some images.


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Re: Needle Mountains loop direction advice

by Floyd » Thu Jul 21, 2011 7:27 pm

I did a similar 8-day loop solo a few years ago, save the NoName/Sunlight portion. I chose to go up Ruby. ... m=tripuser

There is also a pass that most likely goes to CB from upper NoName next to Sunlight: ... 1410_l.jpg

Here is Sunlight Lake TR that may prove helpful for another option to enter or exit CB:

The route up Knife Point from NoName could also prove as a good way to get to or from Sunlight Lake.

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