Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 37.76420°N / 107.7137°W
Additional Information County: San Juan
Activities Activities: Hiking, Mountaineering
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Elevation: 12849 ft / 3916 m
Sign the Climber's Log


West Turkshead PeakWest Turkshead Peak
West Turkshead PeakWest Turkshead Peak
West Turkshead Peak (formely knowned also as V 8) is a nice little peak near the Molas Pass, easily accessible from Million Dollar Highway. Nearby towns are Silverton and Durango. The peak can be climbed alone or with conjunction of nearby 13ers - nice combination would be unranked 13er Spencer Peak, and 2 ranked 13ers: Grand Turk and Sultan. I have done all those peaks and chose to hike up only West Turkshead Peak as a nice easy day.

The hike is easy, not really a trail, or more hard to follow trail. It is mostly on grassy slopes and NO scree. The views are excellent in all directions. 

The Guide to Colorado Mountains with Robert Ormes provides only a brief mention: "Drive south from SIlverton on US-550 approximately 6 miles to the Little Molas Lake turnoff (not Molas Lake). Drive west 1 mile to the lake and park. Climb north into and up a well defined narrowing basin between two rocky points. These were called West Turkshead Peak (12,849') and Turkshead Peak (12,734') by the SJM (San Juan Mountaineers). 

Colorado Rank: 752

Quad: Silverton

Parent Lineage: Grand Turk

Class: 2

San Juan National Forest - peak is located in San Juan National Forest. 

Getting There

From historic town of Silverton, drive south on Hwy 550 (= Million Dollar Highway) for 6.5 miles. Turn west onto a well signed dirt road for Little Molas Lake. Drive 1 mile and park. It takes less than 20 min from Silverton. 

From Durango drive north on US 550 for 42 miles and and then turn west on the well signed road for Little Molas Lake. It takes about 1 hr from Durango. 


Summit of West Turkshead PeakSummit of West Turkshead Peak
Trail between West Turkshead Peak and TurkshedTrail between West Turkshead Peak and Turkshed
The standard route ascends the narrowing and ascending valley between West Turkshead Peak on the west side and Turkshead Peak on the east side. Both peaks appear ragged from the valley. There is not really an obvious trail, but higher up in the valley you will come to a nice trail. Going is easy over grassy tundra filled with wildflowers during the season. Once you reach the pass between those 2 mentioned peaks continue slightly north and reach the gentle broad northwest slopes of West Turkshead Peak. There is a nice cairn and also an official benchmark on its summit. The views are spectacular in all directions: Colorado Trail running below, nice views into Grenadiers. 

Unranked Turkshead Peak on the opposite site of valley is more complex and involves class 3+/4 scrambling from the south. 

Red Tape

Hiking and parking are free. The camping is free. Campground is often full. No reservation accepted. 

When to Climb

Summer and early fall are the easiest. Remember you are in high altitude - trailhead is above 10,000 feet. Winter and spring are more difficult because of a snow cover and avalanche danger. Always check northern San Juan Avalanche report prior venturing. The approach is not bad from US 550 road (=Million Dollar Hwy). The 1 mile drive in the summer is easy to negotiate on snowshoes or skis. 


Little Molas Lake Campground is located at the start of your hike. It provides primitive camping, accessible by 2 WD vehicles. There is no drinkable water or trash service. There are toilets in the campground and at the trailhead for Colorado Trail. Campground is poplar since Colorado Trail passes through. 

List of other nearby campgrounds - click here

External Links

Additions and CorrectionsPost an Addition or Correction

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GMJ - Apr 12, 2020 8:15 am - Voted 10/10

Wrong elevation...

I think your elevation is a little bit too high....

Liba Kopeckova

Liba Kopeckova - Apr 12, 2020 10:21 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Wrong elevation...

Both List of John and Peakbagger are listing the same elevation. Unranked Turkshead Peak to the east is slightly lower at 12,734 feet.


GMJ - May 15, 2020 12:32 pm - Voted 10/10

Re: Wrong elevation...

You've got it listed as 128498 feet, which would make it the highest mountain in the Solar System :)

Matt Lemke

Matt Lemke - Jun 25, 2020 5:49 pm - Hasn't voted

Wrong elevation

Hey Liba! You have this peak listed as the highest mountain on earth!! I was wondering why it appeared first on the list of San Juan Peaks haha

Viewing: 1-4 of 4