Lording over the western edge of Spencer Basin is bold and beautiful peak with no name – UN 13434. This peak’s rocky and rugged eastern aspect looms over the basin, verdant and full of wildflowers in the summer. Hidden from view to visitors to the lower reaches of Mountaineer Creek, visitors to the higher reaches of Spencer Basin enjoy the rocky mass of UN 13434 jutting against the San Juan sky. One of the highest 300 peaks in Colorado, the great secret of UN 13434 is its gentle (albeit steep) southern ridge that provides a surprisingly smooth ascent of this anonymous Thirteener.
Views from the top of this nameless mountain include close-up shots of nearby neighbors Mount Rhoda and Kendell Peak and distant vistas of the Sneffel’s sub-range. Engineer Mountain sits lonely and defiant to the west, while the Granadiers rise with their seductive alpine curves to the south. History buffs will enjoy learning more about Highland Mary Mine first-hand and in the summer months, the wild flowers on the slopes of this peak will delight.
UN 13434 can be accessed via Cunningham Gulch outside of Silverton. To get there, take Highway 110 (Green Street) north out of Silverton. Continue north through the town toward Howardsville. Turn east/right on San Juan County Road 4 toward Stony Pass (you may note the signs to the Old Hundred Mine tour. Turn right to leave the Stony Pass road and drive up to the end of Cunningham Gulch to the trailhead. High clearance is recommended to reach the actual trailhead at the end of the road. Be sure to look for a left turn off of this road that crosses Cunningham Creek just before reaching the parking area. If the road starts switchbacking, you've gone too far. The parking area should be visible on the left and below.
This peak can also be accessed via Deer Park. To reach the Deer Park trail, use the Kendall Mountain Trailhead in Silverton at the intersection of 14th Street and San Juan County Road 33.
San Juan Mountain summer wildflowers are the stuff of legend.
There is little or no red tape in this part of the National Forest.
Camping & Lodging
Angry sky above Spencer Basin
Descending the south ridge
UN 13434 from the east
West from UN 13434 summit cairn
Established National Forest Campgrounds
The South Mineral Campground is about 6 miles from Silverton. The campground has 26 sites, available on a first-come, first-served basis. At 9,800 feet elevation, even summer nights will be chilly. To get there, drive two miles west of Silverton to Forest Road 585. Follow FR 585 west along the creek for four miles to the campground entrance. The facilities provide picnic tables, composting vault toilets, fire grates, trash disposal and potable water.
There is rustic camping near the trailhead for Highland Mary Lakes / Cunningham Gulch (eastern approach).
Silverton hosts at least three commercial campgrounds offering services such as RV hookup, snacks and showers. These include Silverton Lakes Camper Park, Silver Summit RV Park and Red Mountain RV Park. Additional RV parks can be found by visiting the Silverton Magazine online lodging guide.
Cabins, Cottages, Hotels and Bed & Breakfasts
The lodging in and around Silverton could be described as “limited” and “eclectic”. Many are family owned and operated and tend toward the friendly and cozy, versus the sophisticated or luxurious. The Silverton Magazine provides a good online lodging guide.
Weather & Seasons
Part of our party approaching the top
Clouds build over UN 13434
Our party on the summit of UN 13434
Summit of UN 13433
Summer in the San Juans is heavenly, with warm sunny days and cool, crisp nights. As with the other mountainous areas of Colorado, the afternoon thunderstorms mean summertime hikers need to leave the summit by noon. The San Juans are well-known for thawing out later than other parts of Colorado; it is not uncommon for an ice axe to be required year-round on certain routes.
The town of Silverton and surrounding mountains receive massive amounts of snowfall in the winter months. Avalanche chutes abound in the area; in the summer, the wounds from the previous snow-season’s avalanche activity are evident. Exercise prudent snow sense in these mountains when snow cover is present.