Narrative: From the trailhead, follow the trail that starts behind the restroom to a bridge crossing the Lake Fork of the Gunnison River. Climbing steadily, the trail passes through spruce, fir and aspen. Through this area, the trail is clearly marked and well maintained. At timberline, the trail continues up the basin then climbs the ridge to the west. Across the open tundra, the trail may not always be clearly visible, but is marked with rock cairns for hikers to follow. The trail leads straight up valley for about 3/4 mile. A sign points to a long switchback that turns to a ridge leading to Handies Peak. Be sure to look over your shoulder on the way up for some beautiful views of the Silver Creek Valley.
Hazards/Considerations: Loose talus may be encountered along the upper trail around the switchback ridge. Please watch your footing. It is important to be prepared for typical July and August afternoon thunder showers. It is best to get an early start and plan to be off the peak by noon or 1:00 pm. Be sure to bring sunscreen, rain gear and drinking water. Remember, hiking at high altitude requires more time and energy. Take your time, enjoy the scenery and avoid overexertion. Be sure someone knows where you are going and when you plan to return.
Additional Information: Once on the ridge, a hike to the northeast will lead to the top of 13,542-foot White Cross Mountain. A map may be useful as the trail is not maintained. From Handies Peak you can also return via the American Basin Trail then follow the main road or hitchhike back down to your car.
Created by the Bureau of Land Management, Colorado
Point of Contact: Jim Lovelace
Last modified: January 6, 2011