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Hike the Sneffels Highline Trail

Time for spectacular mountain hiking!

One of the most popular hikes in the Telluride area, the Sneffels Highline Trail offers extraordinary scenery as you travel through lush pine forests and whispering aspens.

We'll explore two high alpine basins and meadows of wildflowers.

Creeks and waterfalls add more interest to our meandering journey.  If you do one longer high mountain hike this year, this is the one for you.

The Sneffels Highline is a strenuous 13-mile loop that must be started early.  Set your alarms in order to get your boots on the trail so we can get over the high point (the saddle at 12,280 feet on the ridge below Mount Emma that separates Pack and Mill Creek Basins) to get back down to treeline before afternoon thunderstorms threaten.  Hikers must be fit enough to do these miles through some rocky, sloping terrain, as well as the more pastoral stretches.

You won't need 4WD to access this trail!  It begins at the north end of Aspen Street in Telluride, starting out on the Jud Wiebe Trail and branching off to the right onto the Sneffels Highline Trail.  

This loop is best done counter-clockwise, gaining the highest elevation at the beginning of the hike in order to descend before noon.  While challenging, this trail is richly rewarding in its stunning views of impressive nearby Thirteeners, Mt. Emma, Gilpin Peak, and Dallas Peak, as well as the distant Wilsons and the Lizard Head of the San Miguel Range.

The more detailed trail description can be read here:

http://www.hikingwalking.com/destinations/co/co_sw/telluride/sneffels/sneffels_detail

GETTING THERE:

From Grand Junction, travel south on US Hwy 50, passing through Montrose and continuing on US Hwy 550 into the town of Ridgway.  At the stop light in Ridgway, turn right onto CO 62 W.  Turn left onto CO 145 S, toward Telluride.  Google Maps tells me the drive from Junction takes about 2.5 hours.

Once in town, we will have to park in one of the free day-use parking lots, due to the length of our time here.  We're gonna shoot for the Mahoney Drive lot.  You go through the roundabout as you're entering town, turning right onto Mahoney Drive.  The parking lot is at the end of this street.  The alternate plan is to park in the Carhenge Lot, just off West Pacific Avenue at the west end of town.  Expect to walk several blocks (.5 mile+) to the end of Aspen Street to the start of our trail.  Yes, that's right, folks.  We will be tacking on an extra mile to our exciting day of trekking.  Boo hoo.  Suck it up; it's worth it!

WEAR/BRING:

• Hiking boots

• Trekking Poles 

• Day pack with at least 3L water 

• Lunch AND high energy snacks, Gu, Clif Shots, Sport Beans, or whatever tickles your gotta-have-more-giddyup fancy

• Rain jacket with hood 

• Warm shirt or fleece

• Hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, lip balm 

• Basic first-aid kit for your pack (always have!) 

• Headlamp (just in case, just like first-aid)

Camera


With questions, or to make contact on the day of the hike, call:

Suzy Noonan (401)[masked]

Well-behaved dogs are welcome on this outing.  Please have a leash and bags for pickup, as appropriate, in town.  Have your pet on voice command as we proceed higher up the trail.  Happy puppies love creeks and meadows!

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We MUST get on the trail no later than 8:00 a.m.  Plan accordingly so you will be at the end of Aspen Street, ready to hit the Jud Wiebe Trail (which we first start out on) at this time.  We have 13 miles to cover and the estimated time for this hike will be (liberally) somewhere between 7.5-9 hours, depending on your pace.

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And now the red tape, before you click the RSVP:

                                         ***** Acknowledgement of Risk *****

By RSVPing YES and participating in this activity you acknowledge that you have read the statements below and agree to abide by them while participating in this or any Western Slope Adventurers meetup activity. Only those persons who have read this information and agree to its terms shall be viewed as participants in this or any WSA activity.

Hiking, backpacking, road or mountain biking, water sports, skiing, snowshoeing, climbing, rappelling, canyoneering and other adventure sports are fun, but are not without risk. You are responsible for your own safety and staying within your own comfort limits. All Western Slope Adventurers events are unguided events. By participating in a WSA event, you acknowledge that you have a personal duty and responsibility for your own safety.

Western Slope Adventurers MeetUps are organized to provide a venue for outdoor enthusiasts to meet and have fun while sharing in experiences and adventures.

Neither the WSA MeetUp nor any event organizer assess the personal, technical and/or safety skills of participants.

By your participation, you acknowledge that you have a personal duty and responsibility to

(a) assess your own skills, honestly and accurately, to determine your suitability as a participant for each event,

(b) seek adequate information to assess the difficulty of each event to determine if it is within your fitness and skill level,

(c) seek adequate information about the current conditions in each area and the weather to assess potential risks to you by participating, and

(d) evaluate other prospective event participants and to use your own judgment to determine their suitability for the event and how their participation may affect you.

All participants are encouraged and expected to:

honestly assess your skills to ensure each activity is within your ability

• assess your prospective fellow event participants

• accept responsibility for your own safety and comfort

• do your share of any teamwork involved

• share your ideas for situation assessment before and during an event

• speak up if you're having a problem

• speak up if you question what's going on or something that is being done, no matter who's doing it

• have all of the clothing, equipment and any other special items needed for the activity

inform the event organizer or other designated participant if you have any medical condition that may affect your full participation in the event

• on any biking, canyoneering, or river event that is class II difficulty or higher, wear a helmet, no exceptions

• HAVE FUN!


This is an incredible trail, one of the most memorable I've done in our beautiful state.  Come get your hike on in the highcountry! 

Just for grins... Below, here I am hiking on the trail the first week of October last year, in the snow that had already fallen, just above 10,000 feet.

Crossed through the notch between Pack and Mill Creek Basins and tried to do a glissade down into the bowl of Pack Basin.  But the snow was too soft by that time of day and it didn't go so well, ha!

Due to a too-late start, my friend and I finished the hike with headlamps, until a huge full moon lit our way and the entire canyon with Telluride below.  The sunset we had before dark was a spectacular gold, orange, and red show, with the grand silhouette of the Wilsons in the foreground.  It was a long, amazing day!

Join or login to comment.

  • David L.

    Thanks all for the great hike!! The bear "side show" was a nice ending to our hike. This hike will be filed in my mental files as a favorite and all of you contributed greatly.

    1 · August 18, 2014

  • Ralph

    Great views from the saddle - the San Miguels to the southwest and Dallas Peak and Mill Creek Basin to the northeast. It was nice to meet David and Chris.

    1 · August 17, 2014

  • Suzy N.

    What a great group, too! I enjoyed hiking with you gentleman, and will look forward to seeing you on some trails again in the future! One crazy thing: the first bear I saw in CO, moving to CO from MA 4 yrs ago, was last October, driving out of Telluride after doing this SAME hike. The bear was trotting down a sidewalk past some houses in town. I thought it was a large dog, like a Newfoundland, but my friend said, No, that's a BEAR! So yesterday we were heading towards the parking lot and a person on the street directed our gaze to the grassy slope below the ski run above us... and there was ANOTHER black bear! My two bear sightings to date have both been from town in Telluride, after doing this SAME hike! So join me on this hike next year if you want to see a bear. :0P

    1 · August 17, 2014

  • Suzy N.

    What a SPECTACULAR hike! We had beautiful weather and incredible scenery for MILES. The views of the distant Wilsons (Mt. Wilson, Wilson Peak, El Diente, etc.) were breathtaking. We reached the high point of the hike, the saddle below Mt. Emma that divides Pack and Mill Creek basins - almost 3,400' of elevation gain in 4 miles - and saw menacing clouds coming around and over Dallas and Gilpin peaks. It started sprinkling. We jointly made the call not to drop down into Mill Creek Basin to resume the remaining 9 miles in potentially lousy weather. (I believe) the best scenery and views are in the first 4 miles anyway, so we were all fine with turning around and enjoying it all over again in different light. The rain passed through the valleys around us, for the most part, and we were treated to amazing cloud formations that dappled all the mountains with changing shadows and colors.

    1 · August 17, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Beautiful, we had to backtrack to avoid rain but we still made it to the Saddle. Can't wait for the next trip!

    1 · August 16, 2014

  • Paul S

    I have to back out, my daughter has a competing event that I'm now involved with. Have fun!

    August 14, 2014

    • Suzy N.

      For a second vehicle.

      August 15, 2014

    • Suzy N.

      If you do come...

      August 15, 2014

  • David L.

    Suzy, I would sure car pool from GJ sat AM if you are interested. I can drive or ride. I live in GJ. Call or text[masked]

    August 15, 2014

  • David L.

    I can drive to Montrose, and T-ride sat AM from GJ. If anyone wants to car pool to either location, give me a call. I could take 2. Or I would ride with you and help with expenses. phone[masked]

    August 12, 2014

  • Chad M.

    I think that I need a bit more time to acclamate to the altitude out here and don't want to be a burden on the group so I'm going to back out of this trip.

    August 11, 2014

    • Doug Van E.

      There will be plenty of hikes for you to become accustomed to altitude, Chad. As a matter of fact, a real good one would be Crag Crest on Grand Mesa. That get to 10,000'+, can be a one way 5 miler or a round trip of 10 (with one or more car set at each location so a person or the group can decide at mile 5 to continue or to end that hike there. If that were on the WSA calendar for Sunday Aug 24 would that work for you? And, there will be lots of week night hikes too.

      August 11, 2014

    • Doug Van E.

      Here is the link I had meant to include so you can read about Crag Crest http://www.gjhikes.co...­

      August 11, 2014

  • Suzy N.

    The camping plans have been tabled, so we'll meet at Target, per info above. I will be staying at Marti and John's after their Montrose potluck Friday evening, then meeting all you hikers in the morning! If you are coming from Grand Junction and are willing to drive, please let us know and maybe others can chip in generously for gas and ride with you. We will regroup to consolidate cars when you arrive in Montrose.

    August 10, 2014

  • Suzy N.

    ONE CAVEAT: there is a limit to the number of cars in their lot per site, ONE VEHICLE PER SITE, which means we'll have to figure that out if people do share, and figure out our carpools for the hike Sat. We need to take your cooler of food back to your car before you retire. But, for one night, no biggie, really. We can reserve a couple sites, depending on how many people decide to camp Friday night. Sites are reserved by going to www.reserveamerica.com. You plug in Ridgway State Park, select the Pa-Co-Chu-Puk H Loop, arrival date Friday, August 15th, and one night's stay. Please post below, if you do reserve, if you're willing to share your site, and which one you get. We can gather at one site that night with our chairs and have a nice camp fire, if someone brings firewood. We turn in early so we can get up to T-ride on time!

    August 5, 2014

    • Suzy N.

      We could leave some vehicles parked in the Montrose Target lot, then ride to the park in my car. We could go up to T-ride in my car and I'll return you to yours at Target on our way back from the hike. I've got a yes from Chad only, so far. If more are interested, please contact me ASAP.

      August 10, 2014

  • Suzy N.

    There aren't any tent sites currently available in the Elk Ridge campground (my personal fave) but they still have open sites in the Pa-Co-Chu-Puk campground. These are the ones where they have those wheelbarrows with the big wheels to carry your stuff up the hill to your reserved sites from the parking lot. You have to cross a small bridge and head up past the restrooms. Each site has one elevated tent pad (which fits a med to large tent) and room for one other tent in the site. They say a max of 6 people, but that's really kinda crowded. Each site costs $18 a night total. You still have to pay the park entrance fee ($7, I think). I figure, for one night, this ain't too bad, if you don't plan to stay longer. Continue reading below...

    August 5, 2014

  • Suzy N.

    Who would like to camp at Ridgway State Park Friday night? We could go to the Montrose Potluck (also John Carlile's 50th birthday party!) and then retire in our tents or trailers/RVs at the park afterward.

    July 29, 2014

    • Chad M.

      I too would like to camp at Rideway!

      1 · August 4, 2014

    • Suzy N.

      I can look into available sites at Elk Ridge Campground and get back to you guys. Been busy up in Chicago Basin!

      August 4, 2014

  • Paul S

    I did this hike once long ago when I was young and beautiful and it would be one massive hike for a dog. Better bring a pack to carry Fido at the end! Looking forward to it, it is really spectacular. Painful, but spectacular.

    July 30, 2014

  • Paul R.

    This is an ambitious trek which I won't be joining but be aware that there are free buses from Carhenge into town. They won't take you directly to the trailhead but within a block or 2 maybe, which is better than a half mile.

    July 20, 2014

    • Suzy N.

      Thanks for the info, Paul. I'll call to find out when/how often/how late they run.

      July 21, 2014

  • Elizabeth B.

    In Saturday out Sunday ?

    July 20, 2014

    • Suzy N.

      Nope, in Saturday, out Saturday. This loop is a long day hike. The camping we might do would just be overnight in Ridgway on Friday night, so those coming from Junction wouldn't have to get up at 4:30 a.m., or whatever, Sat morning to make it to the TH by 8:00. This hike is a humdinger for those who are willing to do the miles, not to be missed!

      1 · July 20, 2014

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