We camped in the Chicago Basin, which was about a five hour hike from the train stop including a lunch break. From the Needleton Creek trailhead, you cross the Animas River on a suspension bridge and hike along Needle Creek for roughly six miles. Known for the Missionary Ridge Fire that ravaged 71,739 acres back in 2002, this area north of Durango has bounced back tremendously. Click here for more info. I have to say that is one of the coolest pictures from a camera of stars I have ever seen. Please help keep this area pristine and pack out your waste and toilet paper along with the rest of your trash. We have done some hiking and camping in RMNP and Indian Peaks- your report makes me want to see more of the Colorado Rockies. This map is a good resource while exploring this trail system. Purgatory Flats Trailhead: Access from the northwest Purgatory Trail (#511) – approximately 4 miles, 1500 ft descent We rode in with roughly twenty other backpackers. There are a few spots where the ridge narrows, but they are the exception rather than the rule. For various reasons we ended up hiking North Eolus first; this change was likely instigated by the fact that Dave made it to the high saddle well before I did. Was able to summit 3 out of 4. This is great, loved it! From Durango, you board the old-school steam-powered Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. Overall this was a wonderful challenge. Along the way, we'd spotted a lovely partially-frozen tarn off across a hanging basin below Mount Eolus and North Eolus (more in line with North Eolus) so we decided to go check that out while we were already up high. We rode the train from Silverton to the trailhead. Since traffic consists of both uphill hikers and downhill riders, please respect other trail users and make sure you know who has the right-of-way. I am proud that you post so many pictures of me, but I hope I didn't leave too much hair in your car! Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. Great job! I summited Windom Peak in July of 2009 with a group from my high school. The trail takes you through aspen groves to a spacious valley known as Purgatory Flats, where the 13,000- and 14,000-foot Needles Mountains tower above. After hiking a mile and losing 800 verts, the trail forks at Purgatory Flats… The pool at the bottom of the falls is deep and popular for cliff jumping. It’s not until you reach the actual basin itself, that the true beauty of the Needle Mountains (a subrange of the San Juan Mountains) reveals it’s self. From the Vallecito Creek Trail, backpackers can link up with the Continental Divide Trail, head out on the Weminuche Trail or connect to the Pine River Trail and hit Emerald Lake on a loop. The trails were easy to follow and well marked all the way up to Twin Lakes and on to the top of N. Eolus. Windom is supposed to be the easiest of the three peaks but due to difficult rout finding it was more challenging than we had anticipated. From afar the mountain looks daunting but as you get closer, you’ll be amazed that there is, in fact, a path to the summit. As it took me a while to reach the saddle, Dave decided to complete the relatively quick scramble up North Eolus while waiting for me, so I looked around and saw him up there, then scrambled on up North Eolus myself. Sweet report. There are not any roads to the trailhead so you have two solutions. We are working to be sure all orders are filled as promptly as possible. Stop to read the signs at the trailhead before heading out, which will provide you a brief history of the area along with what to keep an eye out for while you’re hiking around. Each year this area receives about 10,000 visitor use days. Had to backpack from the road, but worth it. From Sunlight we were able to glissade down to the valley that separates these two mountains. I couldn't have picked a better partner for this trip. Feel free to text me at 616-443-9183. Want to learn more about our current projects, ways to stay involved and news from the San Juan Mountains Association? The Durango-Silverton Railroad prohibits dogs, so this is the easiest option for getting your dog into Chicago Basin (beware, most of the peaks there are too technical for Fido). Couldn't agree more on the summit block. We didn't run into the anticipated "hordes of people", but we did see far more than who we'd seen along the way. So beautiful with many waterfalls and accessible water along the way.
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