Menefee Mountain P900
Peak 8,485ft P500
Animas City Mountain P1K
Peak 8,980ft P1K

Tue, Oct 10, 2023

With: Eric Smith

Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 GPX Profile


We'd left Telluride with only a vague idea of how we were to get to Albuquerque in time for the eclipse on the 14th. Having spent the night in Rico, we were up in the early morning for the drive south on SR145 to Dolores, then SE on SR184 to Mancos where we would pick up US160 heading east. Eric had us driving to Wolf Creek Pass above Pagosa Springs, about a three hour effort, but I had found some objectives we could do along the way. These would pretty much fill up our day with a combination of dirt road and highway driving, some hiking along the way.

Menefee Mountain

This is the high summit on the south side of US160, east of Mancos, sporting over 900ft of prominence. Others have reported that you can drive to the top, but seems none of the TRs on PB or LoJ actually describe having done so. The route is not obvious, at least from our exit off US160 east of the summit, where there are no signs indicating private from BLM lands. The driving route described in the TRs (and on the GPX here) is entirely on BLM and CO state lands. The road is pretty rough, high-clearance necessary and 4WD as well if not completely dry. Lots of deep ruts and encroaching brush, too. After leaving Eric's car at the highway, we took the Jeep right to the very top. There is a cell tower at the summit and a collection of other telecom stuff scattered nearby. Views were not so exciting now that we'd left the San Juan Mtns.

Peak 8,485ft

Supposedly there is a public easement way to reach this summit from the north, off US160. We found the start of the road described by markott on LoJ to be gated and locked. Later, we examined that road branch from above and noted it was terribly overgrown - we think they have cut off the public easement for good. Luckily, there is another way. Adjacent to the derelect gate is a much fancier one for the upscale suburban development on the NW side of the mountain and the source of the issue - seems they would like to keep the public out of the area. We noted that when anyone goes in or out of the automatic gate, it stays open for a considerable time. We simply waited for a work truck to exit and then drove into the development. The dirt roads are well-graded and take you through a tour of this dispersed development, the opposite of high-density and eco-friendly. This is Colorado's 3rd district, currently represented by Lauren Boebert, 'nuff said. Our meandering driving route eventually connected with the public easement north of the summit where the last mile and a half travel through BLM land to reach the summit. There is a microwave repeater tower at the highpoint with views to Menefee Mtn and the southern part of the state. After a short walk-around, we drove back out to the highway without incident and continued our way east on US160.

Animas City Mountain

After two drive-ups, we were happy to give our legs some work to do. Animas City Mtn is a P1K on the north side of Durango. It is named for the city that preceded Durango, founded in 1876 but not surviving to the present day. Nearly the entire mountain is on BLM land and there is a large network of trails throughout, including ones built for mountain bikes. It appears to be quite popular. The TH is at the end of W 4th Ave. The drive through town to reach it is annoyingly like driving through any major metropolis with all the major nationwide retail outlets found on one side or the other of the main drag (Main Ave, also US550). PB and LoJ have different points as the highpoint, but it appears the LoJ one is correct. We visited both on a 5.5mi loop with about 1,600ft of gain. The trails aren't particularly scenic, save where they pass by the eastern and northern edges of the sloping summit plateau, with views of the Animas River Valley. We wandered off the trail in the vicinity of both summit points, measuring the eastern one to be higher by about 10ft, but finding neither very interesting. The trails are mostly old, rocky roads that aren't all that comfortable to walk on. But at least we got a modest workout. We spent a little under 2.5hrs on the effort.

Peak 8,980ft

This P1K lies south of US160 between Bayfield and Pagosa Springs, in the southernmost part of the San Juan National Forest. Theresa Gergen had posted a short hike on LoJ from a Forest road that gets close to the summit. We parked at the same location and followed the old road, now a trail called the Pine Piedra Stock Driveway. We left the trail after less than a quarter mile where it passes our summit to the east adjacent to an old fence. We turned southwest to follow the brushy ridgeline about 100yds to the highpoint. There are vestiges of a use trail, probably just a game trail, but it helped to keep the bushwhacking to a minimum. The highpoint is found in a thicket of scrub oak. If there was a register or cairn in there, we didn't find it. Nearby is a view looking south, a good place to take an herbal break if that suits you. On the way back, we noted thick clouds forming to the north which would portend of a different sort of day on the morrow. We were back at the Jeep by 3:15p and ready to call it a day.

We headed back to Bayfield where we'd left Eric's car and had dinner there at the Bottom Shelf Brewery. Afterwards we continued driving east on US160, finally turning off at Forest Rd 725 on the west side of Wolf Creek Pass. We would shower and spend the night here on the south side of the highway, which would also be our jumping off point for our first peak the next day...


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