Animas Forks ghostown
Animas Forks ColumbinesCinnamon Pass Trail Little History
: The Utes used this pass road before white exploration of the area. Then, in the early 1860s, Charles Baker used the pass on his journey into the San Juan Mountain when he reported finding gold, triggering a minor gold rush. In 1873, The Hayden Survey Party
crossed the pass. In 1877, Enos Hotchkiss constructed the first wagon road over the pass. It was an important freight road for a period but was not maintained after the ore in the area declined.
Today Cinnamon Pass Trail is a seasonal, moderately difficult 4WD road. It is a part of the very popular Alpine Loop
. The other half of the loop is Engineer Pass Trail. You can access Cinnamon Pass Road either from Lake City
, or from Silverton
. You can also access it from Ouray
over Engineer Pass, but it does take longer than driving Million Dollar Highway
over Red Mountain Pass to Silverton. The scenery varies from the rugged alpine environment and barren talus slopes near the summit to the wild flower covered valleys and rushing streams. You will pass by Animas Forks ghost town. At either end of the route are wonderful historic town.
: Drive through Silverton in its main street northeast out of town. Bear rich onto Colorado 110. Pass a campground on your right, and Hillside cemetery on your left. Continue on paved road until it changes into a good dirt road. The route follows the Animas River
and it passes through numerous mines. At 4.2 miles drive across the bridge spanning Cunnigham Creek. At 7.8 mile point is the town site of Eureka
, this is where the road closes in the winter. There is a campground in Eureka and a cabin (available for hire and popular with ice climbers in the winter).
Pass Sunnyside Mill on your right and follow the more narrow road up and above Animas River. About 4 miles from Eureka is a public restroom on your left and right above it the road is signed for Cinnamon Pass. (To the right would be the ghost town of Animas Forks)
. The road here becomes steeper and bumpy. 4WD and high clearance is needed at this point. Engineer Pass Rd. will continue straight and you will take a sharp turn right and uphill, well signed for Cinnamon Pass. The roughest section of the road is just above Animas Forks for about 1/2 mile. It is roughly 2 more miles from Animas Forks to the top of Cinnamon Pass. The road winds along the southern slopes of "Animas Forks Mountain". If you don't have 4WD, you can just park close to Animas Forks ghost town and hike up.
From Lake City
: Dive on Colorado 149 and follow signs for Alpine Loop past San Cristobal Lake. At 14 miles pass the intersection County 35 to Sherman townsite (up to here snowplowed in the winter). Continue on main road towards Cinnamon Pass. At 18 miles pass Grizzly Gulch
- a popular TH for three 14ers: Sunshine
. At 21 miles there is a turn off for American Basin. It is another 2.2 miles from here to the summit of Cinnamon Pass.
Peak 13,708 Southeast Ridge - Point 13,708 in the background
Point 13,708 and catwalk as seen from "Animas Forks Mountain"
As any mountain there are many different ways to get up. The easiest way is to reach Southeast Ridge
. You can either approach it on your descent from Wood Mountain, or when hiking from Cinnamon Pass you can head directly for a saddle between Point 13,708' and Wood Mountain. There is no established trail to reach this saddle, but walking is easy on mostly grassy slopes, higher up some scree and talus, but relative short and not very steep. Follow the ridge without any major obstacles on stable talus all the way to the summit cairn. Enjoy the views along the hike.
South Ridge = Catwalk to "Animas Forks Mountain" - this south ridge is the way to access also "Animas Forks Mountain" = Point 13,722'. The saddle between Point 13,708 and "Animas Forks Mountain can be reached also directly from the basin along Cinnamon Creek. From the summit of Cinnamon Pass head under Southeast Ridge of Point 13,708 towards the start of the catwalk. The slope here is steeper, but nothing more than class 2. Once you reach the start of the catwalk head up on the South Ridge (leaving the catwalk behind) and summit Point 13,708'.
Northwest Ridge - ridge leading towards Denver Pass and Seigel Mountain, class 2 walking. Denver Pass is 12,907 feet (=3,969 m) high mountain pass accessible from Engineer pass Rd on foot.
Summit Cairn of UN 13,708 and Animas Forks Mountain in the background
Horseshoe Lake as seen from Catwalk between Peak 13,708' and Animas Forks Mnt.
Unnamed 13688 as seen from Southeast Ridge of UN 13,708'
View North from UN 13,708': Coxcomb, Wetterhorn, Uncompahgre
Catwalk from UN 13,708' to "Animas Forks Mnt."
Wood Mountain as seen from SE ridge
Driving scenic Alpine Loop is free. There are enough parking places at the summit of Cinnamon Pass and a sign. Expect a lot of traffic of different off road vehicles during the peak summer months. Hiking is free.
When to Climb
Summer is the easiest since you can drive to the top of Cinnamon Pass. Autumn, winter and spring provide a more difficult access, and you have to travel through avalanche prone terrain. Check avalanche conditions prior venturing out there in the winter - Northern San Juan Avalanche Information Center
Primitive camping is available along the Cinnamon Road at various turn offs. You can sleep at the top of the pass - flat parking makes sleeping in a car comfortable. There is a small unnamed lake just north of the pass (? 100 feet) you could easily pitch a tent over there and watch a sunrise over Handies.
Developed campgrounds are closer to towns - Eureka Campground on Silverton site.