Mt. Ouray
East Ridge
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Difficulty:
 Class 2 
Trailhead:Grays Creek
Start:9,660 feet
Summit:13,971 feet
Total Gain:4,300 feet
RT Length:9.3 mi
Author:Thunderable
Updated:8/2017
Weather:NOAA Forecast
Conditions:69 reports
Cell Signal:2 reports
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Trailhead

From the junction of U.S. 50 and U.S. 285 in Poncha Springs, drive 5.4 miles south on U.S. 285 and turn right onto the Marshall Pass road (Country Road 200) and reset the tripometer here. Drive 2.3 miles and turn right. At 3.1 miles, turn right at a four-way junction. Continue on CR 200 to reach the trailhead at 7.2 miles.

Route

This is a mostly Class 1 route with almost no exposure (I'd call it "1"), lots to see along the way, and a great summit area.

The unmarked trailhead begins in the small lot a little before the Grays Creek sign (if one is heading from the east side via Poncha Springs). 1

From just up the road near that sign, one can see Mt. Ouray on the left just above the snow patch. 2

The trail heads into the aspen forest 3 right away and soon there are a few stream crossings each with assorted pieces of wood of varying widths and stability. None are very long, but there is a 'rolling' log on one of them. Almost imperceptibly, the trail gently climbs up through the beautiful forest alongside Grays Creek.

At around 1.6 mi in the forest breaks at a rocky slope 4 that turns into a mini valley where the trail becomes faint up the right side and then crosses over the rocks to the left, although there are some helpful cairns along the way and perhaps a flock of grouse to greet you 17. There is a noticeable white trunk one heads towards about halfway up. 5

Near the top of this incline one enters the remarkable bristlecone pine forest. 6

This lasts for about 0.6 mi until one reaches the plateau and enters The Devil's Armchair at just above 11,800, with an excellent view of the 'pygmy' aspen forest below and Mt. Ouray above in the upper left 7. From here one gets a broad overview of the almost 2,200' challenge that remains.

There is not a clear route at this point, though there are some cairns scattered about, but it mostly becomes Class 1+/Class 2 route-finding through the grassy slopes and rocks in a general westerly direction toward the saddle 8. This is really the only part of the route that isn't straight-up Class 1 and why I rated this Class 2 (Gerry Roach calls it Class 1+ in his excellent description).

Once up on the saddle there is a great path that basically leads all the way to the summit via fairly gentle switchbacks 9 over the hump 10 (this is looking backward) to another saddle 11 before the final approach to Mt. Ouray's summit.

There are great views from the top looking north towards Mt. Antero and Tabeguache Peak 12, west/NW toward Gunnison, way out southwest towards the San Juans 13 and east/SE to the Sangres.

Here is another view of the summit area 14 and more pics of the bristlecones on the way back down - 15 and 16.

Notes

None
#1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6 #7 #8 #9 #10 #11 #12 #13 #14 #15 #16 #17
Topo

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