Peak(s):  Jones Mtn B  -  13,218 feet
Date Posted:  07/12/2018
Date Climbed:   07/04/2018
Author:  Greenhouseguy
Additional Members:   SenadR
 Underachievers Unite! Jones Mountain B   

Jones Mountain B

13,218 Feet (467th Highest in Colorado)

Grassy Gulch Road (CR 349) Route

Trailhead Elevation 10,419 Feet

Approximately 6.0 Miles Roundtrip

Approximately 2,300 Feet Elevation Gained

Class 2

July 4th, 2018

Partner: SenadR

Underachievers Unite! Jones Mountain B

Jones Mountain B is not particularly tall, not particularly steep, and a very good mining road leads to within a few hundred feet of its summit. As such, it rates as one of the least-menacing summits in the Sawatch Range. Hikers typically add to the challenge by combining Jones Mountain B with nearby thirteeners such as Chalk Rock Mountain, Mt. Kreutzer, or Gladstone Ridge. By itself, the hike scarcely takes half a day. This makes it an ideal hike for a holiday when there is beer to swill, burgers to grill, and pools to lounge by.

The most popular and scenic route starts from Cottonwood Pass and leads to Ptarmigan Lake, which lies northeast of the mountain at 12,140 feet. From Ptarmigan Lake, it is easy to ascend the mountain’s East Ridge. Unfortunately, Cottonwood Pass is closed for road construction, and it is impossible to reach the Ptarmigan Lake Trailhead. The simplest alternative is to hike the mountain from the southeast on the old mining road known as Grassy Gulch Road (CR 349). Grassy Gulch Road diverges from South Cottonwood Creek Road (CR 344) a little more than five miles past Cottonwood Lake. There is no official trailhead, but there is room for a couple of vehicles to park at the intersection of the two roads. South Cottonwood Creek Road is a well-maintained dirt road, but only high-clearance 4WD vehicles should proceed up Grassy Gulch Road.

Part of Highway 285 was closed due to the Weston Pass fire, so we chose to reach Buena Vista from the north on Highway 24 via Leadville. We arrived at the trailhead by 7:00; an alpine start would have been overkill on such a short hike. The weather forecast was good, so there was no pressure to break any speed records.

Sen starting out on Grassy Gulch Road

The snowpack was low this year, so the creeks in the area are running far below their typical levels. The wetlands plants seem to be doing fine in spite of the relative lack of water.

Fringed Bluebells Mertensia ciliata is usually found growing beside streams

Nearly white columbine

The wildflowers were quite diverse on this route, and we saw pine squirrels, chipmunks, and ample “evidence” of elk. There were no mining structures on the mountain, and the bulk of the mining activity seems to have been restricted to the southwest slopes. The Atlantic, Mound, and Josephine mining claims were all filed in 1873, and the Atlantic/Mound mine was still technically active as recently as 1975. The mine property is still private, but that shouldn’t be an issue since this route follows the opposite side of the mountain.

Still below treeline, with the mountain coming into view

A view from the east

As we approached the mountain from the east, we came to a junction with a smaller trail that appeared as #1444 on my map. This trail, also known as the Ptarmigan Lake Trail, goes through a notch in the Jones Mountain/Gladstone Ridge saddle, down to Ptarmigan Lake, and out to the Cottonwood Pass Road. We both wanted to get a good look at the lake, so we took the trail over to the saddle.

Heading towards the Jones Mountain/Gladstone Ridge saddle

Golden mountaim buckwheat, Eriogonum jamesii var. xanthum

Ptarmigan Lake from the Jones Mountain/Gladstone Ridge saddle

The saddle was an excellent place for a break. We enjoyed a snack while looking out over the lake with a backdrop of Mt. Yale and a host of other Collegiate Peaks. After we finished our break, we started up Jones Mountain’s East Ridge. This is the route that most people take from Ptarmigan Lake, so there was a rudimentary trail on the initial steep, rocky section.

Starting up Jones Mountain’s East Ridge

The rest of our route to the summit was mostly on rocky tundra. The wildflowers on the tundra were at their peak, so the scenery was pleasant. The mountain views got better and better as we gained altitude.

Higher on the mountain

Old Man of the Mountain (Hymenoxys grandiflora)

Just below the summit, the tundra became sparser and we just had to pick our way through rocks. A narrow band of snow persisted in spite of the warm summer conditions.

Approaching the summit

The summit cairn

The 360-degree views from the summit would be difficult to beat. To the northeast, there was a Class 3 ridge to unofficially-named thirteener “Chalk Rock Mountain.” The ridge looks like fun, but we weren’t in the market for bonus peaks today.

The ridge to “Chalk Rock Mountain.”

To the southwest, Emma Burr Mountain is the matriarch of the valley.

Emma Burr Mountain

To the east, we could see fourteeners Mt. Princeton and Antero Peak, as well as Gladstone Ridge and some unnamed thirteeners.

View to the east, with (L to R): Gladstone Ridge, Mt. Princeton, ridge with three thirteeners, and Mt. Antero in the background

The view to the northeast was no worse, with Mt. Yale, “Mascot,” Ptarmigan Lake, and Gladstone Ridge.

View to the northeast: (Mt. Yale/”Mascot,” Ptarmigan Lake, Gladstone Ridge, Mt. Princeton)

The weather was great, so we were in no hurry to come down. I could see dozens of butterflies in every direction, and the bumblebees were busy gathering pollen from the mountain avens. There were numerous flies as well; I’m not sure what role they play in the mountain ecosystem, but they didn’t seem to be bothering anything. We decided to change things up on the descent by following the southeast ridge down to the mining road. The ridge was easy, and we were back on the road in a matter of minutes.

Looking down the southeast ridge

We didn’t slow down for much on the descent, but it was worth stopping for a closer look at a colorful meadow that was punctuated with whites and yellows.

Blooming tundra

Jones Mountain B is definitely a bargain for a half-day hike. We covered almost exactly six miles and 2,300 feet of elevation gain. The wildflowers were colorful, and the mountain scenery was top-notch. We were back to the car by 11:00, and back to the Metro area for holiday festivities by early afternoon. I couldn’t have asked for more from a short hike.

GPS track of our route

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions

07/12/2018 08:03
I literally took the same route you did on Monday. Nice report as always, Brian!


07/12/2018 13:29
A couple weeks ago, we underachieved on Jones as well.
We drove to 12,100' in Grassy Gulch before going over Jones and grabbing Chalk Rock, too.
Props to you, too, Jay.


07/12/2018 14:11
Well done!

I'm the poster child for underachievers. Done Jones twice from Grassy Gulch, and Gladstone Ridge from Ptarmigan Lakes TH. All on separate trips.


07/12/2018 15:45
We all seem to agree on this one. I don't think that anybody had a report up for this route, and I thought that some people might be interested in a different route. The Ptarmigan Lake route looks like fun, but it's a no-go with Cottonwood Pass closed. I saw a guy headed down to Spout Lake from Chalk Rock last weekend, and I have no idea how he got to the trailhead.


Great work
07/15/2018 11:55
This is certainly a quality 13er accomplishment. Also, an extremely well-written trip report. Thanks so much for putting together the route beta!

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