In the summer, this high-altitude hike hosts an amazing array of wildflowers—and hikers—en route to one of the San Juan’s most distinct and photographed peaks: Engineer Mountain. Though this route stops short of the distinct double summit, energetic hikers can add the 0.6-mile out-and-back that climbs an additional 700 feet to the 12,968-foot summit.
From the Pass Creek Trailhead, the trail winds east and north across a steep, grassy slope. The climb intensifies as the trail enters the spruce-fir forest and turns left, rounding the eastern edge of the mountain onto its northern slope and skirting a small lake just a mile from the trailhead. Continue climbing past treeline and turn right at the signed junction with the Engineer Mountain Trail. Panoramic views reward as you climb the increasingly rocky and steep trail—be sure to notice the rock glacier “flowing” beneath the north slope. The narrow, exposed ridge leading to the summit requires scrambling and sure-footedness to navigate to the top, so follow the line of hikers heading up, or turn around when you’ve had your fill.
-Mapped by Erinn Morgan