In the summer, this high-altitude hike hosts an amazing array of wildflowers—and hikers—en route to one of the San Juan's most distinct and photographed peaks: Engineer Mountain. Though this route stops short of the distinct double summit, energetic hikers can add the 0.6-mile out-and-back that climbs an additional 700 feet to the 12,968-foot summit.
From the Pass Creek Trailhead, the trail winds east and north across a steep, grassy slope. The climb intensifies as the trail enters the spruce-fir forest and turns left, rounding the eastern edge of the mountain onto its northern slope and skirting a small lake just a mile from the trailhead. Continue climbing past treeline and turn right at the signed junction with the Engineer Mountain Trail. Panoramic views reward as you climb the increasingly rocky and steep trail—be sure to notice the rock glacier “flowing” beneath the north slope. The narrow, exposed ridge leading to the summit requires scrambling and sure-footedness to navigate to the top, so follow the line of hikers heading up, or turn around when you've had your fill.
TO TRAILHEAD: From Durango, CO, take CO 550 to Coal Bank Pass. The trailhead parking lot is on the left side of the road just after the rest area for Coal Bank Pass on the right.
Distance: 5.64 mi
Total Time: none
Speed: 0.0 mph
Pace: 0:00 / mi
Active Time: none
Speed: 0.0 mph
Pace: 0:00 / mi
Points of Interest
Location: 37.699062, -107.778717
This hike begins at the Pass Creek Trailhead, 70 yards west of CO 550. Though there aren't any facilities here, the rest area on CO 550 has public restrooms. Follow the trail on the north side of the lot to begin a steady climb.
Location: 37.704968, -107.779216
The trail levels briefly as it skirts the northern shore of a small lake. Continue straight on the trail, following a sharp turn to the right about 500 yards ahead.
Location: 37.704509, -107.795084
The forest ends here and the landscape turns to delicate sub-alpine meadows.
Location: 37.705571, -107.799182
This picnic spot is just 200 yards north of the main trail. Try to stick to the trail and tread lightly in this delicate alpine environment. Next, return to the Waypoint 4 and turn right (west) onto Engineer Mountain Trail. Begin the steep, rocky climb toward the summit.
Location: 37.701199, -107.802208
This route tops out at 12,200-feet (only 768 feet and 0.3 mile shy of the summit). Turn around and retrace the route to the trailhead. If the weather is holding, continue uphill, navigating the scree field along mountain's eastern razor edge.
Choose to make the trip public, private, or use a secret link.
Copy the link below, then save the changes, then send the link to your friends.
Public: Anyone on the Internet can find and access the trip. No sign-in required.
May appear on your profile or search results.
Limited (Secret Link): Anyone who has the link can access the trip. No sign-in
required. Will not appear on your public profile or search results. The secret link
can be removed or regenerated at any time.
Private: You are the only person who can access the trip.
*Note: If a trip's visibility is changed from secret link, the previous value
will be invalidated and cannot be used again.
Warning: Once this trip is deleted, you will no longer be able to access it on the website or in your mobile apps. Are you sure you want to delete the trip "Durango, CO: Engineer Mountain via Pass Creek Trail"?