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Route #1) Uncompahgre Peak - South Ridge from Nellie Creek

Difficulty:  Class 2 
Ski: Intermediate
Exposure: Mild exposure very close to the route. Route options may be limited but you should be able to walk past the exposure area.
Summit Elevation: 14,309 feet
Trailhead Elevation: 11,400 feet
Elevation Gain:3,000 feet
5,505 feet starting at 2WD TH (9,350')
Round-trip Length: 7.25 miles
15.25 miles starting at 2WD TH (9,350')
Trailhead: Nellie Creek
USGS Quad.: Uncompahgre Peak
County Sheriff: Hinsdale: 970-944-2291
National Forest:  Uncompahgre
Wilderness Area:  Uncompahgre
Author: BillMiddlebrook
Last Updated: 11/2014
TH:  From Lake City, turn west onto Second street. Drive 0.1 miles and turn left onto the Henson Creek road. This is the Alpine Loop Scenic Byway. Drive 5 miles to the sign for the Nellie Creek trail (#877). The sign is on the right. There are a few pull-offs along the road in this area. If you do not have a high-clearance 4WD vehicle, park on the Henson Creek road and hike up from here. Continue 4 miles up the Nellie Creek road to reach the trailhead. The road crosses a stream twice. 2.3 miles up this road there is a junction. Turn left and stay on the main road to reach the trailhead. The composting restroom which was provided by the US Forest Service has been CLOSED and is no longer functional. Please pack out human waste or bury it at least 200 feet away from any water source.

Route: From the upper end of the parking area, start up the trail and hike nearly 1/2 mile to tree line where the trail approaches Nellie Creek. Near 11,800‘, pass some large boulders as you parallel the stream - Photo #1. Ascend a hill to reach a trail junction near 11,950‘ and continue west into the large basin, south of the peak - Photo #2 and Photo #3. Follow the trail southwest as it crosses the basin - Photo #4. Above 12,600‘, turn left and hike toward Uncompahgre‘s south ridge - Photo #5 and Photo #6. Photo #7 is another look at the peak from approximately 12,800‘.

Near 12,900‘, turn right (west) and hike along the east side of the south ridge. Near 13,200‘, the trail angles more to the north as it continues along the ridge - Photo #8. Continue to Uncompahgre‘s southeast face (Photo #9) and climb a few switchbacks (Photo #10) to reach the crest of the ridge, near 13,800‘ - Photo #11. Follow the trail left (northwest) around to the west face where you’re faced with the crux of the route - 150‘ of steep, loose rock below the upper slopes - Photo #12.

Look for trail segments and angle right up through this steep section - Photo #13 and Photo #14. You may find several trail sections but each one basically leads to the same place. Once the terrain eases, you’ll find a more-defined trail (Photo #15 and Photo #16) which heads northeast. Photo #17 looks down on much of the route. Walk up the remaining route (Photo #18 and Photo #19) to reach summit - Photo #20, Photo #21 and Photo #22.

Skiing?: Photos of Uncompahgre with snow: Photo #23, Photo #24, Photo #25, Photo #26, Photo #27, Photo #28, Photo #29, Photo #30.

Notes:    The Nellie Creek 4WD road is rough and narrow and, in Spring, the stream crossings can be a bit tricky. IMPORTANT: This route enters the Uncompahgre Wilderness area. Wilderness areas have special regulations and restrictions for party size, dispersed camping, campfires, etc. Also, dog owners should read the wilderness information carefully because some wilderness areas prohibit dogs to be off-leash and/or limit how close dogs can be to lakes and streams. If you have questions about the Uncompahgre Wilderness area, please contact a U.S. Forest Service office for the National Forest(s) listed above.

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Route Photos: (Did you know?)
Photo #1 Photo #2 Photo #3 Photo #4 Photo #5 Photo #6 Photo #7 Photo #8 Photo #9 Photo #10 Photo #11 Photo #12 Photo #13 Photo #14 Photo #15 Photo #16 Photo #17 Photo #18 Photo #19 Photo #20 Photo #21 Photo #22 Photo #23 Photo #24 Photo #25 Photo #26 Photo #27 Photo #28 Photo #29 Photo #30



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