The Mt. Sneffels Hike

View from the top at 14,150 feet
View from the summit

There are many spectacular hikes you can pick from when hiking in Ouray. This hike is not for the faint of heart, nor is it for beginners, but for those who are seasoned hikers, looking to summit one of Colorado’s 14,000 ft peaks, this is definitely one for the bucket list!

Hiking in Ouray can lead you through fields of wildflowers
Wildflowers on trail to Mt. Sneffels

Beginning at the top of Yankee Boy Basin, and accessing the trailhead by way of Wright Lake, it seems this was the perfect day for an adventure in the high country!

Once on the trail to the top of this famous fourteener, the path becomes a little bit more technical, as shale is replaced by a field of boulders.

Reaching the summit, all of the climbing pays off. This view is close to impossible to capture on film. Nothing quite compares to standing at the top of a daunting mountain, surveying the world below. This is some of the best of hiking in Ouray.

Mt Sneffels does have a daunting boulder field.
Resting on Mt. Sneffels’ imposing boulder field

Getting to the Mt. Sneffels Trailhead

To reach the trail head, travel south from Ouray on Highway 550 to County Road 361 (Camp Bird Road). About 4 and a half miles up this road is the turn off for Yankee Boy Basin. At this point, unless you are driving a four wheel drive vehicle, there are areas to park your car. Those with high clearance four wheel drive vehicles may continue to the parking area at the toilets at Yankee Boy Basin. The road continues up another half mile or so, but may be closed to vehicles.

Starting from the Trailhead

Beautiful wildflowers found hiking in Ouray county.

Starting from the trail head, you cannot see the summit until you are up in the high basin. On the trail from Wright’s Lake, you will reach a junction where the Blue Lakes Trail goes left to the Pass; turn right for about an eighth of a mile east to a cairn at the Sneffels turnoff going north.

If you approach Mt Sneffels by the road, instead of the trail described above, the road ends after a mile. Continue on the trail heading toward the Blue Lakes Trail Pass. Go a half-mile to the cairn marking the summit turnoff to the right.

Another beautiful view from the top

From the cairn, continue toward the saddle between Mt Sneffels (left) and Mt Kismet (right). At the saddle, check the weather again since you can now see to the north. If conditions are beginning to deteriorate, this is a good place to consider waiting for a better day.

From the saddle, go left (northwest) up a steep narrow gully, which may have snow it it. Climb almost to the top of the couloir where a notch opens to the left. Observe the location of the notch for your descent. You will come out on a ridge which leads you up to the summit. The final stretch of 650 feet requires some proficiency in minor rock climbing–and caution.

Be Careful on the Mt. Sneffels Hike

Made it to the top, the highest point you can reach hiking in Ouray.
Yes, I finally made it!

Above all, be aware of rocks rolling from above and be careful not to dislodge any yourself. Also, do not linger on the summit–leave time to descend with care. Falls are more dangerous coming down.

Even if you aren’t interested in summiting a fourteener, portions of this hike are suited to all levels of outdoors enthusiasts. As always, be sure to check the weather and have a friend with you. Don’t forget layers, as it can get a little chilly at 14,000 feet, and definitely bring your sunscreen!

Happy Hiking!

Brought to you by your friends at Ouray’s Favorite Hotel, the Box Canyon Lodge.

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