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Needleton Trailhead
Added by BillMiddlebrook

Location:  San Juan Mountains
14ers Served:  Mt. Eolus, Windom Peak, Sunlight Peak, North Eolus
Road Type:  Paved Road 0   (0=Paved, 6=Very Difficult 4WD)
Directions:  Drive to Durango and follow signs to the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. It's near McDonald's and has a large parking area nearby. Buy a ticket for the train that stops at Needleton and ride the train 2.5 hours (~30 miles) to the Needleton stop. The train will drop you off next to a suspension bridge that crosses the Animas River. From here, it's a 6 mile hike to reach Chicago Basin. Note: you can also take the train from Silverton and be dropped off at Needleton.
Winter Access:  No train access in winter months.
14er Trailheads on Google Maps
Date Status Information Posted By  Photos  Comments Likes Dislikes    
2014-05-20 not a lot of snow on trail. expect to cross a few snow patches starting at 10K or so. there are trenches and frozen debris trails and foot prints to follow to 11.4 or so freeinthehills         
2013-05-26 Just hiked out from Chicago Basin yesterday, and summitted North Eolus on Saturday. Some snow remains but it‘s not significant below Twin Lakes. Above Twin Lakes there are some sizeable snow fields but no show stoppers. The catwalk appeared to have snow on it as viewed from the North Eolus summit ridge. schrund         
2011-05-29 Lots of snow up there still. Spotty post holing/flotation begins at around 9600‘ all the way to 11,100‘ At least one good dry campsite there. From camp nearly continuous flotation required all the way to twin lakes. Stopped there due to questionable snow conditions, warm temps and saw several wet slides . My recommendation is to get a "very very" early start on any of these peaks right now. Overnight lows are not cold enough to make any boot pack and it warms up so quickly that all routes are questionable for ascent by as early as first light. summitbound  3       
2010-08-07 When you get to Chicago Basin there are a zillion choices for campsites. Seems like there is a common tendency to camp too low. We wish we had gone to 11,200 for what we thought was the best campsite in the basin at 37 36.530N, 107 37.029W. Look in the trees to the north of the trail ... if this exceptional spot is taken, you will have to back track a quarter of a mile. vorticity         
2010-08-01 Mud slides have taken out a couple sections of the trail in, but overall it is in good condition. The lower part of the trail is remarkably dry considering the amount of rain the area has received. Expect a few puddles past treeline. crossfitter         
2010-05-08 Boot about halfway to Chicago Basin and melting fast as of 5/7. Skiing great on all four peaks (from C. Basin) except Windom. Widowmaker is "skiiable" but the rest of the face is very patchy. san juan johnny         
2009-08-11 Mt. Eolus, Windom Peak and Sunlight Peak are located within the Weminuche Wilderness. Most people chose to camp in the Chicago Basin area of the Needle Creek Drainage. Please be aware that several special rules apply to the Wilderness and Needle Creek area. -Weminuche Wilderness- 1. Group Size is limited to 15 people. 2. Camping is not allowed within 100 feet of any water source (lakes, streams, etc). 3. Dogs must be on a leash or under voice control. 4. Disposal of human waste and gray water within 100 feet of any water source is prohibited. Dig a cathole 6-8" deep for human waste. Trash must be packed out (not burried). -Needle Creek Drainage- Due to high use and limited wood, camp fires are prohibited in the entire Needle Creek Drainage. -Twin Lakes Basin- As it is a sensitive, confined area above treeline with very high use, camping is prohibited in the Twin Lakes basin through which the trail leading to the most common approaches for the 3 14ers passes. Call the Columbine District of the San Juan National Forest for additional info on rules and regulations. (970) 884-2512 WeminucheRanger         
2008-09-09 9/8/08 Bridge is still up and no construction materials were at the site. IHikeLikeAGirl         
2008-08-25 Just got back from trailhead on 8-24. Bridge was still intact and there is still no sign of construction activity in the area. I spoke with Forest Service last week and they said that the contractor had dropped off some materials in Durango but did not give them a start date. As of last week the the Forest Service was advising hikers to carry extra food and water in case the contractor shows up and hikers have to walk the extra 7 miles from Cascade. tundraking         
2008-07-08 Bride was still there on July 7th with no sign of any work in the near future, call the Forest Service for additional information on schedule. Chicago Transplant         
2007-09-06 The bridge over the Animas at Needleton is closed from Sept.5 through late October. The train is stopping at the Cascade Wye and adds 7 miles to the trip. s_tuning         
2006-07-31 Call the train station for schedules and reservations. BillMiddlebrook         

The train ride along the Animas River (Added by: BillMiddlebrook on 2006-07-31)The Needleton stop (Added by: BillMiddlebrook on 2006-07-31)A sign at the trailhead – as of summer, 2006 (Added by: BillMiddlebrook on 2006-07-31)Crossing the Animas River on the suspension bridge (Added by: BillMiddlebrook on 2006-07-31)

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