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Cinnamon Pass Peaks & Anvil Mountain

Friday – Sunday, September 7-9, 2018

After visiting the High Uintas Wilderness for the first time last weekend, I figured I’d stay a little closer to home this weekend to spend some quality time back in the San Juan Mountains. The summer season in the mountains is coming to an end soon and I’ll be heading off to explore the Colorado Plateau on my weekends in just a few short weeks. Midddle to late September is actually my favorite time to hike in the mountains since they are less crowded after Labor Day, the alpine tundra is already changing color, the aspen trees usually start to change color, and there are less worries about afternoon thunderstorms since the monsoon season is coming to an end. It’s a great time of the year to get in some peak bagging! Last September I headed up to Engineer Pass for a little hiking around this time of the year, so I thought I would return to the area and hit up Cinnamon Pass this time. Although I hiked to Cinnamon Mountain from the pass a few years ago, there were still a couple of peaks nearby that I hadn’t got to yet.

As usual, I left after work on Friday afternoon, grabbed some dinner in Delta and then continued south over Red Mountain Pass to Silverton. Then I followed the Animas River to the ghost town of Animas Forks and found a nice spot to camp below the old abandoned mining town.

A nice view of Kendall Mountain as I made my way into Silverton late in the day on Friday.

Kendall Mountain Evening

There was a nice sunset this evening as I drove up the road to Animas Forks, but I wasn’t in the greatest spot to photograph it. Here’s my view from the road looking back.

The View Behind

Looking up into Burns Gulch from Animas Forks at dusk.

Burns Gulch at Dusk

I woke up about an hour before sunrise on Saturday morning, packed up my camp, and then drove the rest of the way up to Cinnamon Pass. I arrived shortly before sunrise and started hiking to the summit of Wood Mountain. As I hiked along the ridge I had nice views of Animas Forks Mountain, Cinnamon Mountain, Handies Peak, Redcloud Peak and Sunshine Peak during the sunrise.

Up at Cinnamon Pass before sunrise.

Cinnamon Pass

The first light of the day strikes Animas Forks Mountain (13,722).

Animas Forks Mountain Sunrise

I hiked past this small tarn above Cinnamon Pass and caught this reflection of Cinnamon Mountain (13,328) at sunrise.

Cinnamon Mountain Reflection

I had a pretty good view of Handies Peak (14,048) from different angles throughout the morning.

Handies Peak

Light on the ridge of Wood Mountain that I would be hiking up.

Wood Mountain

Edith Mountain (12,620) below on this hazy morning.

Edith Mountain

Whitecross Mountain (13,542) on the right with Sunshine Peak (14,001) behind it.

Whitecross & Sunshine

From the ridge I had a good view down into Cleveland Gulch and Burrows Park beyond.

Cleveland Gulch

Following the easy ridge to the top of Wood Mountain.

Wood Mountain Ridge

Near the summit I got a good look into Horseshoe Basin. In the distance you can see the fall colors beginning down along Henson Creek along with Uncompahgre Peak (14,309) on the horizon.

Horseshoe Basin

A view from the summit of Wood Mountain (13,660) toward the peaks of the Uncompahgre Wilderness on the horizon including Darley Mountain (13,260), Wildhorse Peak (13,266), The Coxcomb (13,656), and Wetterhorn Peak (14,015).

Wood Mountain Summit

Looking back the other direction over Cinnamon Pass.

Cinnamon Pass Overview

On my way back down I stopped to check out some old mining ruins and found the outhouse.

Collapsed Outhouse

After returning to Cinnamon Pass I started hiking up the other side. Although I had hiked to the summit of Cinnamon Mountain a few years back, I had skipped visiting PT 13535 on that trip, so I figured I’d hike to that one today. Surprisingly, this is actually the first unnamed peak I have hiked this year!

During my hike to the summit of PT 13535 I had a nice view into Grouse Gulch.

Grouse Gulch

On the ridge above American Basin near the summit of PT 13535.

On The Ridge

One last view of Cinnamon Mountain as I hiked back down to the pass.

Cinnamon Mountain Ridge

A few more mining ruins along the way near Cinnamon Pass.

All That Remains

After returning to my Jeep I drove back down to Silverton and grabbed a burger from the Kendall Mountain Cafe before they closed. While I was in town I checked the weather to figure out what I’d do for the rest of the day. The forecast was looking good, so I decided to return near Animas Forks to try Hanson Peak, since I was chased off that one by weather last year when I attempted it. I followed the Animas River back toward Animas Forks again, but before reaching the ghost town I took the road up Picayune Gulch and around Treasure Mountain (12,900) and parked on an old mining road below Hanson Peak.

There were definitely some nice patches of fall color found in the area.

Bring On the Fall Colors

Following the ridge to the summit of Hanson Peak. It was about here that I turned around last time.

Hanson Peak Ridge

Spotlight on California Mountain (13,220) below.

Above California Mountain

A great view from the summit of Hanson Peak (13,454).

Hanson Peak Summit

Following the ridge back down.

Ridge Walking

On my way back I came across this old collapsed tower with a few sections of ladders on the ground.


Back to the saddle that I would take down.

Point on the Ridge

After returning to my Jeep I decided to take the scenic route back to Silverton over California Pass and Hurricane Pass. I stopped at the Gold Prince Mine in Placer Gulch first.

Gold Prince Mine

An old tram tower in Placer Gulch.

Tram Tower

One last look at Animas Forks Mountain. I had hoped to climb that one today, but I guess it will have to wait until next year.

Animas Forks Mountain View

The road through California Gulch.

California Gulch

California Mountain towers above California Gulch.

Upper California Gulch

Going up to California Pass.

California Pass

An old boiler near the pass.

California Boiler

I could see the start of the fall colors down along the Uncompahgre River, too.

A Little Color

I stopped in Silverton for a quick dinner and then drove up into US Basin above Red Mountain Pass and found a spot to camp at around 12,000 feet. From my campsite I had a nice view over to Anvil Mountain at sunset, which would be my destination on Sunday morning.

A sunset view of Anvil Mountain with Grand Turk (13,180) and Sultan Mountain (13,368) located right behind it.

Anvil Sunset

I got into my sleeping bag shortly after sunset but was unable to fall asleep for a while. At least I was able to look up at the clear sky and see all the bright stars and milky way. That never gets old! I did eventually fall asleep, but was awakened later in the night to the sound of falling rain and I was a little worried that it might impact my hiking plans later in the morning. When I finally got up shortly before sunrise I could see that it was still pretty cloudy out, but it appeared the clouds were not threatening and starting to break up, so I decided to carry on with the hike. It was a good decision since I was treated to some beautiful light and clouds during sunrise as I hiked to the summit of North Anvil (Nancy’s Grassy Peak) and Anvil Mountain.

It was pretty cloudy out this morning when I started hiking. This view is looking north over Red Mountain Pass to Trico Peak (13,321) and Telluride Peak (13,509).

Morning Clouds

There was touch of pink on the clouds over South Lookout Peak (13,380) and Ulysses S. Grant Peak (13,767) across the valley.

Cloudy Morning

Some nice spotlight did eventually start to get through the clouds!

Mountain Light

Morning Spotlight

Sunrise on Anvil Mountain, which is one of the peaks that surrounds Silverton.

Anvil Mountain Hike

North Anvil is the smaller red peak on the left and Anvil Mountain is the red peak the right. Behind them is Grand Turk and Sultan Mountain.

Anvil Mountain Sunrise

Most of the hike followed the ample animal trails found up in this area.

Animal Trail

There were good views across the valley to the peaks that surround the popular Ice Lake Basin.

San Juan Morning

The morning light interacting with the clearing clouds put on a nice show during the hike.

Morning Landscape


I even got to see two rainbows this morning! This was the better one.

End of the Rainbow

On the summit of North Anvil (12,296) looking over to Anvil Mountain.

North Anvil Summit

Looking back to Ohio Peak (12,673), which I hiked around this time since I already climbed it a few years back.

Ohio Peak

View from the summit of Anvil Mountain (12,537). The route to the top was pretty steep and loose, so I had to take my time. Now I have hiked all the peaks on the main ridge to the east of the Million Dollar Highway between Ouray and Silverton except for Red Mountain #2 (12,219). I guess I will have to try to get that one next year.

Anvil Mountain Summit

Looking up South Mineral Creek from the summit of Anvil Mountain.

Anvil View

A closer look at Sultan Mountain.

Sultan Mountain

I took my time on the loose descent from Anvil Mountain as I started my hike back down.

Headed Back Down

I hiked back over North Anvil (Nancy’s Grassy Peak) and then returned to my Jeep at the trailhead above Browns Gulch so I could start my drive back home. It had been another nice weekend in the San Juan Mountains!

>> Cinnamon Pass Peaks & Anvil Mountain Photo Gallery


  1. Brent Doerzman
    Brent Doerzman September 14, 2018

    Awesome report and images as usual Randy, and you are a hiking machine! 🙂

  2. Cathy Getz
    Cathy Getz September 15, 2018

    My husband and I so enjoy your posts. What amazes us is how often you get out and the wide range of areas you go to!

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