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Colorado 14ers: Mount Sneffels

This 4.8-mile out-and-back climbs steep, boulder-covered slopes and an often snow-filled couloir to a compact San Juan summit overlooking turquoise mountain lakes.

Trip Tools

There’s a reason Ridgway is one of Colorado’s hottest markets for ranch property: It’s that view of the craggy north side of Mt. Sneffels from CO 62, between Ridgway and Telluride. In September, the peak’s snow-dusted, mile-high escarpment provides a shadowy backdrop for aspen-colored hills and golden pastures lined by split-rail fences. Compressed by a telephoto lens, this chamber-of- commerce image screams “High Country Heaven.”Most hikers start up the opposite side of Sneffels, where the scenery ain’t too shabby, either. In July, meadows near the trailhead in Yankee Boy Basin host some of the lushest wildflower gardens in existence. The march up the mountain isn’t as good as its views, but it only takes a couple of hours. A short but spirit-sapping scree slog gains Lavender Col at 13,500 feet, where a couloir jammed with teetering talus—or snow in early summer—shoots toward the summit. (Stick to the biggest blocks to minimize erosion.) On top, your legs may be sore from the talus-hopping, but your soul will be refreshed by the crenellated ridges radiating from the striking pyramid that is Mt. Sneffels.-Text by Dougald MacDonald-Mapped by Tim George

To Trailhead

From Ouray, take CR 361 for 7 mi. Bear R @ Y toward Yankee Boy Basin. Go 1.3 mi. to 4WD parking area (high-clearance, 4WD vehicle required).

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