Handies Peak  
Condition Updates  
Route: East Slopes
Posted On: 2022-07-26, By: Mustavio
Info: Getting a bit muddy. Caution if this rain continues. 
Route: Southwest Slopes
Posted On: 2022-07-06, By: zootloopz
Info: American Basin is in peak wildflower mode right now. Go get it!! 
2
Route: Southwest Slopes
Posted On: 2022-06-30, By: maylemay1
Info: Drove from the Lake City side. The gravel road is pretty smooth for a while before it turns to crap for a good number of miles. My stock 4x4 grand cherokee had no problem on the road but it was slow going. The last half mile or so in American basin is pretty rough however. Managed to make it up but there were some sketchy spots. Camped at the trailhead, but there are not exactly a lot of places to pitch a tent there, so arrive early or camp elsewhere. The hike is free of any snow and is pretty great. 
Route: Southwest Slopes
Posted On: 2022-06-21, By: Penhawk
Info: road up past the grizzly gulch/silver creek TH is pretty rough, did it on a mini bike(fun and got there...don't recommend). route was summer conditions besides two or three little patches of snow that were fine going through without traction, or hike the extra 10 feet to go around. very pretty up there. Lake City is really nice as well, ended up staying the night down there. 
Route: Southwest Slopes
Posted On: 2022-06-17, By: TheDreamologist
Info: Very little snow dropping from grouse gulch into American basin. Highly recommended alternative route to start from Grouse Gulch. This routes more about around 10.5 miles. 
5 1
Route: Southwest Slopes
Posted On: 2022-06-12, By: kbuskirk
Info: Absolutely beautiful hike. We started around 9am and it took us a little over two hours to summit. Some spots are a little muddy from the snowmelt, we post-holed a couple of times (not bad at all though), but overall fantastic. We hit the summit around 11:30 but started making our way down pretty quickly because of the storms rolling in and it was super windy at the top. Otherwise, absolutely beautiful weather! 
Route: Southwest Slopes
Posted On: 2022-06-12, By: Tallowpot
Info: About half a dozen snowfields still remain over the trail. Sloan lake is still 75% frozen and as others have posted—American Basin has snow scattered all over. Left trailhead at 6am. Both up and down the snowfields were decently packed. Only postholed 3-4 times. Also—put the baskets on the poles. We didn't and coulda used them. Beautiful day. We hit the summit and the wind died. Absolutely great to spend 20 minutes at the top. No other gear was necessary for us. 
2 4
Route: Southwest Slopes
Posted On: 2022-06-05, By: derekpetrie
Info: Still a decent amount of snow in the basin, melt out happening fast. Attempted at 3:30p hoping things were a bit more dry, some knee deep postholing in sections. Similar to last report, snowfield crossing trail around 13k probably okay in the morning, but I decided not to mess with it late afternoon after the sun came out. 
1
Route: East Slopes
Posted On: 2022-05-31, By: Gpacardella
Info: East slopes up Grizzly Gulch. Dry 1st couple miles into basin just above treeline. Minor snow patches and creek crossings in that basin but once you start up the SE facing shoulder, recommend spikes due to quite a bit of snow still. One traverse up near the ridge could present a very dangerous situation if you slipped. An axe there wouldn't hurt but not needed with spikes. American Basin is loaded with snow BTW 
Route: Grouse Gulch approach to standard
Posted On: 2022-05-29, By: TheSpaceForce
Info: We started from Grouse Gulch, and joined the standard route. Up to the ridge, there are some snow patches on trail, but generally dry when no snow. From the ridge to the standard route, it's mostly snow or deep snow if you follow the trail (we did, and post-holed quite a bit). After joining the standard route, some snow patches exist up to the lake… medium snow coverage in the basin around the long left turn on ascent at/after Sloan Lake. Once on the final pitch it's mostly dry to summit. 
Route: Southwest Slopes
Posted On: 2022-05-30, By: EastCoastEscapee
Info: Quite a few snow patches on the route, many of which are on top of streams. Early morning, snow was firm enough to not sink in, but lots of postholing on the way down even before noon. 
Route: Southwest Slopes
Posted On: 2022-05-10, By: smicka
Info: Climbed and skied American Peak (victory couloir) and then climbed up the SW slopes of Handies. Was barely able to skin the entire way and managed to squeak out a summit ski descent along the S ridge before dropping onto the SW face for some mediocre sun and dirt affected snow. The San Juans are in serious trouble after this dust storm and these winds. Things are melting out absurdly quickly. Was able to drive a stock tacoma to the American Basin TH, no issues. 
5 5
Route: From Cataract Gulch, up Boulder Gulch
Posted On: 2022-03-15, By: Will_E
Info: The road to Cataract Gulch is well plowed, anything can get there. From start there was a good trench first 1.5 miles, then ski tracks a little further. After that I was breaking trail in snowshoes. After leaving the road the snow up Boulder Gulch was pretty sucky, but it got better pretty quick. Snow was really nice in the morning most of the way after that, I was in snowshoes until the final ridge (aside from the short class 3 section). Made summit without crampons, but there were some slick spots so I put them on for descent until getting back to my snowshoes. Nice day. 
15 4
Route: Boulder Gulch
Posted On: 2022-02-19, By: angry
Info: Road is packed to turn off. Prior track filled in with fresh snow but visible to ~11,000, beyond that point everything was wind blown. Stashed snowshoes at ~12,500 . Used crampons from the scramble bit to summit which weren't necessary entire time but didn't want to take on/off. There was some whumpfing below treeline and I deviated from the slope on descent sticking closer to the creek before rejoining track on a gentler angle which involved unconsolidated snow, postholing knee deep. 
5
Route: Boulder Gulch
Posted On: 2022-02-15, By: illusion7il
Info: From the Cataract Gulch TH there was a skin track past Boulder Gulch. From there the trenching up Boulder Gulch was sugary and progress was very slow. The snow in the creek wasn't that supportive so I had to deviate in and out of it on steep slopes. Once on the ridge, the route is about 95% dry. 
5 1
Route: Southwest Slopes
Posted On: 2021-10-20, By: john curtis
Info: Road was mostly clear to the Silver Crk/Grizzly Gulch trailhead. We camped by the restrooms Monday night and then drove towards the American Basin trailhead Tuesday morning. There was a fresh 2 inches of snow on the ground Tuesday morning but the road was still passable up to the Cinnamon Pass/American Basin split. American Basin was not passable to the trailhead. I parked my jeep at the 2nd pull-off at 11,352 ft. Microspikes and gaiters were used to the trailhead. Snowshoes were then used up to Sloan Lake. We made it beyond the first cairn above Sloan Lake but then encountered a steep snow drift from a couloir prior to the next cairn. I had an ice axe but my friend did not, so we decided to turn back. All tracks from the person the reached the summit on the 18th were gone. We were making fresh tracks all day. We never saw any other tracks but ours. It was also snowing off and on all day and by the time we got close to the trailhead, our tracks were filled in. With more snow falling Tuesday night, I'm guessing our tracks are gone. Photo #8 is where we thought it was best to turn around. 
9
Route: Southwest Slopes
Posted On: 2021-10-19, By: longlevi823
Info: In a party of 3 (including self) we had a successful summit of Handies on 10/18 via Southwest Slopes. Getting to the true trailhead for the American Bacon trailhead isn't feasible right now, about half way back from that you could get a Jeep Grand Cherokee up (according to a vehicle we passed on our hike in) but the rest is covered in deep snow. We parked slightly below the split to the left to get to the trailhead. Between Silver Creek/Grizzly Gulch trailhead and here is doable with 4WD (or AWD) but there is snow and ice. Snowshoes are necessary. We all had mountaineering boots, you could probably get by without them but it wouldn't be fun. Was a bit windy, but less windy than what we had planned for which was nice. With the Jeep further up and the shoe track headed in we realized we were not the first out there that morning. We continued to follow their tracks but once we got further into the Basin they chose a different route than the standard route. We linked back up with their tracks a bit later when getting further into the Basin. But lost track again as we chose different routes. We didn't go to the right towards Sloan Lake, instead we bee lined right up to the 13,000 contour line (on the 14ers map). We took off our snowshoes around 13,200 and then postholed/kicked steps to the saddle between Handies and 13,588. Once at the saddle we took the snowshoes off that we were carrying on our packs so we could be more light to the summit. From the saddle to the summit of Handies was little or no snow. The summit had the best views of any of the peaks I've done so far (this was 17). Nice and sunny on top. A good amount of wind too. We were pretty exhausted from the day before (Sunshine and Redcloud) so just got food and water in us and headed down. Good day overall, come prepared for snow! 
1
Route: East Slopes
Posted On: 2021-10-18, By: Grover
Info: DID NOT SUMMIT this peak. Visual beta provided from the summit of Whitecross Mountain. If you are thinking of summitting Handies Peak from Grizzly Gulch TH, I highly suggest spikes and gaiters. You will see the East Slopes route is covered with snow in the images, and the snow is progressively deeper when you reach the open basin at ~12,000 ft. 
2 2
Route: Southwest Slopes
Posted On: 2021-07-28, By: PaulKWells
Info: Conditions are great. This was my first 14er and it was a smooth trail and beautiful. 
1 1
Route: Southwest Slopes
Posted On: 2021-07-14, By: Flyingfish
Info: Great weather and clear trail to the summit. A few creek crossings but they are easy without much need for a detour 

Return to the main Peak Conditions page
© 2022 14ers.com®, 14ers Inc.