The View East
Telluride Peak sits on top of the ridge between the towns of Ouray and Telluride. While it is not much of a landmark itself, it is far enough from any higher peaks to have huge views in all directions. To the north, the Sneffels range
dominates. To the south, the Needle Mountains are on the horizon. To the west, the peaks around Telluride, such as Mount Wilson
, give way to a distant flat vista. And to the east, innumerable San Juan peaks spread out into the distance, including Matterhorn and Wetterhorn on a clear day.
Imogene Pass, the summit of a long, convoluted jeep road connecting Ouray and Telluride, is about half a mile from the peak. On a nice summer day, the road can be crowded with jeeps, ATV's, dirtbikes, and SUV's. The road is also a nice hike, though, and it makes the approach to the peak very straightforward. From the pass, it is mostly just a walk-up.
Telluride Peak is almost part of the well-known view from downtown Telluride. Part of its ridge can be seen, but the peak itself is blocked by Ajax Peak.
This is a description of the route from Ouray. It would also be possible to approach the peak from Telluride, by taking one of the jeep roads out of the town through Savage Basin.
Starting in downtown Ouray, take route 550 south up a few switchbacks, until Camp Bird Road splits off on the right. Take it up towards Yankee Boy basin. It becomes gradually more and more difficult for ordinary cars, and by the time the jeep road to Imogeen Pass splits off on the left, crossing a bridge and going into the woods, it is probably impassible without 4 wheel drive. Since there are few places to turn around, let alone park, along the road, it is probably a good idea for a hiker to have someone drive as far as they can up the road and drop him off.
The Switchbacks Up Imogene Basin
The beginning of the jeep road, an Ouray county road, can be considered the beginning of the hike. It starts off traversing through dense woods at the top of a cliff overlooking the Camp Bird mine and the steep valley that Camp Bird Road winds through. There are one or two difficult stream crossings. After losing a little elevation, it meets up with the blocked off road that descends into the mine, takes a right turn and starts going up the basin towards the pass. It climbs up Imogene Basin, with United States Mountain and Hayden Peak rising up on either side. It passes several waterfalls, has a few more stream crossings where it is hard not to get wet, passes another mine, does a few broad switchbacks, and starts a long ascent sideways up to what looks like the pass. After this false pass, it is about 3/4 of a mile to the real pass.
From the pass the peak is clearly visible to the left (south), in back of a few hills on the ridge. There is no definite trail. While it is possible to directly follow the top of the ridge to the peak, it is probably easier to stay to the left of the first hill at first. Right in front of the peak, there is a lowpoint in the ridge. From here it is just a straight shot up for another quarter mile.
When to Climb
July and August are the most popular times for hiking and most of the other outdoor activities in the area, with the notable exception of skiing. The entire summer is the optimal time. Unfortunately, during these months, the weather can be dangerous. Lightning storms are a common daily occurrence in the afternoons. It is best to be down from a peak by noon, so getting an early start is a strong recommendation.
Weather can change fast and the weather report in a nearby town can have little to do with the weather on the mountain. It is always necessary to pay attention to the weather.
There is a campground off of one of the first few switchbacks of route 550, and another one partway up Camp Bird Road. In and around Ouray there are all sorts of lodging options
. Because of the mines in the area, many of which are private property, camping is not allowed everywhere in the backcountry. It would be best to check with the national forest service about this.