Driving north from Durango towards Purgatory Ski Area, your view is dominated by the West Needle Mountains. This small range within the San Juans is made up of only five peaks: Twilight Peak, North Twilight Peak, South Twilight Peak, West Needle Mountain and Snowdon Peak. These low 13er's (highest peak is Twilight @ 13,158 feet) are seldom climbed despite their attractive appearance. Perhaps due the numerous higher peaks in the area or lack of an established climbers route. Don't overlook the West Needles, what they lack in elevation, they make up for in character.
There are two ways to approach Twilight Peak, only one could I recommend to anyone I liked. I will describe this approach first.
1.) This approach starts at Andrews Lake. Located a few miles south of Molas Pass or about 12 miles south of Silverton, Colorado. From Andrews Lake, follow the very nice trail south for about 5 miles to Crater Lake. This is the start of the climb. Crater Lake has some nice places to camp, if you want to turn the trip into a backpack.
2.) This more strenuous approach starts at the Old Lime Creek Rd Campground. A few miles north of Purgatory Ski Area there is a sharp right turn, just after this turn is a sign for Old Lime Creek Road. Take this right turn and follow the bumpy dirt road a few miles down to a campground right on Lime Creek. This is the start of the second approach. From this camp there is no trail and the route ascends over 5,000 vertical feet in only a couple of miles.
No permits required now, but check with the San Juan National Forest (970-247-4874 or www.fs.fed.us/r2/sanjuan) for more information. There is ample parking at the Andrews Lake Trailhead, however, camping is not permitted, and a limited number of parking spots at the Old Lime Creek Campground..
When To Climb
Summer months are the best. In the Winter and Spring there are several large active avalanche paths, however, there are several nice ski/snowboard descents.
Camping & Other Lodging
Camping is not permitted at the Andrews Lake Trailhead, but you can backpack into Crater Lake. There are a limited number of campsites at the Old Lime Creek Campground.
Silverton is a short distance north of Andrews Lake Trailhead and has a variety of lodging options. Check out www.silvertoncolorado.com for more information.
Purgatory (Durango Mountain Resort) is not far to the south and also has a wide selection of accomodations. Check out www.durangomountainresort.com for more information.