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  • Writer's pictureJoanna Lee

Down in the Stunning San Juan Mountains Twice in 2020

Updated: May 12, 2023

July 3, 2020

Bent Peak (13,393 feet)

Route: From Carson Pass

2.10 miles; 1007 feet elevation gain

Total time: 1 hour 28 minutes

July 4, 2020

Coney Benchmark (13,334 feet)

Route: From Upper Carson Pass

1.40 miles; 257 feet elevation gain

Total time: 40 minutes

Two very easy climbs in the San Juan Mountains IF you have a 4WD high clearance vehicle. If you do not, it will add significant mileage to both hikes. We just added a puppy to the family and wanted some easy peaks for the long weekend. We camped on Carson Pass in complete isolation all weekend, on a holiday weekend! We drove most of the way up both of these peaks with just a short hike to the summits. Bent Peak follows a trail almost the whole way to the top. Coney Benchmark has a trail, which is part of the Colorado Trail, most of the way up.


August 11, 2020

Handies Peak (14,058 feet)

6.26 miles; 2214 feet elevation gain

Total time: 4 hours 11 minutes

The drive along Cinnamon Pass coming from Lake City does not require a 4WD like the route from Silverton does, but it is recommended. Once you get into American Basin a 4WD is required to get to the trail head. There is an alternate Handies Peak route from a different trail head that is right off Cinnamon Pass. We camped in American Basin for a few nights, there are a handful of campsites for dispersed camping with stunning and iconic views down the basin. This is a beautiful hike with steady elevation gain. There is a trail the whole way and no technical areas. You pass a beautiful alpine lake on the way up/down that is worth a stop.

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