I am interested in hiking Wetterhorn this summer and am trying to understand the options for getting to the Matterhorn Creek Trailhead, or at least near it before the road requires serious 4WD. I know the standard access is from Lake City, but I live in Albuquerque and my friends may fly into Durango for our annual hiking trip so I am wondering if the approaches to Matterhorn Creek Trailhead from either Silverton or Ouray are reasonable to drive in a 2011 Subaru Forester?? Can a car like this make it up the approach roads (Engineer Pass??) or should I just plan to access it from Lake City? Are there any good options for getting to this trailhead from the west side? For what it's worth, I am not very experienced on 4WD roads (went up to Yankee Boy Basin last year and have done a few others).
The route Gerry Roach describes for the Matterhorn Creek Trailhead in his 14ers book does not require 4WD. A Subaru will make it just fine. I wouldn't try to take a car over any of the San Juan passes though. Just drive to Lake City and drive the roads to the Matterhorn Creek Trailhead. The TH is basically at a gate with room for 1 or 2 cars and the trail starts up the remaining road on the other side of the gate and turns into the trail you take. Be sure to take the right fork at the junction and switchback up the grass slope to the right and above Matterhorn Creek which takes you to Wetterhorn. There is a Class 1 trail the entire way to the final 100 foot summit block.
Or you could do it from one of the northern approaches--i.e. the West Fork of the Cimarron trailhead. It's a longer hike. Probably need to camp out a night in the backcountry to make it work. You could pick your friend up in Durango and simply drive north on 550 through Silverton/Ouray/Ridgway to access Owl Creek Pass. http://www.summitpost.org/wetterhorn-the-long-way/839006 I have never done Engineer Pass, so can't comment on how well the Subaru will do.