Handies Peak

Lake City, Colorado 81235

Handies Peak

Handies Peak Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"There are eighty-nine peaks that rise to more than 14,000 feet above sea level in the United States. California has twelve, Washington has two and Alaska has twenty-one. The remaining fifty-three protrude from the rugged Rocky Mountains in Colorado (see Sidebar)."

More Handies Peak Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Colorado's Incredible Backcountry Trails (Rincon Publishing)
David Day
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"There are two commonly used trails to the summit of Handies Peak: one goes up through American Basin on the west side of the mountain, and the other approaches the peak from the east through Grizzly Gulch. Of these two alternatives the trail through American Basin is the most popular, simply because it is shorter. It is only 2.1 miles from the American Basin Trailhead to the summit, and the elevation gain is only 2,450 feet. The round trip hike from American Basin to the summit of Handies Peak can easily be done in 4 or 5 hours. But in my opinion Grizzly Gulch is one of the most striking glacial valleys in the San Juans, and it would be a shame to miss it. I suggest you climb Handies from the American Basin Trailhead but make your descent down the Grizzly Gulch Trail to experience the joy of a downhill stroll through an incredibly beautiful alpine valley."
Best Hikes with Dogs: Colorado (The Mountaineers Books)
Ania Savage
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"As with other Fourteeners, once you have climbed above 11,000 or so feet you are above timberline and at the mercy of mountain weather. The only source of water for your dog is along Grizzly Creek, so make sure to take plenty of water along for yourself and your pet. From the trailhead, cross the Lake Fork of the Gunnison River on a log bridge and strike out southwest on the clearly defined Grizzly Gulch Trail. Climbing steadily, the trail passes through spruce, fir, and aspen forests. At timberline, the trail continues up the basin then climbs the ridge to the west."

Handies Peak Trip Reports

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Beautiful hike, went up from Grizzly Gulch and the descent was into American Basin and looped around Whitecross Mountain back to Grizzly Gulch trailhead. About 12 miles round trip. Recommend doing a hike into American Basin in the early to mid Summer to see the wildflowers in full bloom.
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Spectacular 14er with multiple routes from easy+ to moderate. Trailheads are remote, accessible by forest roads best traversed with 4x4. Drive in is worth the trip alone. Trail starts through pine forest and aspen glens. Runs adjacent to stream on southside of trail up through and past treeline, when the fun really begins. Above treeline the view is magnificent. Next mile or so winds through alpine meadow flush with wildflowers of incredible variety. From meadow to peak is a fairly steep and a short portion may require the use of hands for those unsure of foot. A short traverse across the ridgeline yields the summit. The view, which provides a 360 degree view of snowy peaks, is breathtaking. This hike reminds you why!

Handies Peak Photos

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Trail Information

Lake City
Nearby City
2,603 feet
Elevation Gain
Trail Type
Skill Level
5 hours
BLM Gunnison Field Office, (970) 642-4940; 650 S. 11th St., Gunnison, CO 81230
Local Contacts
USFS Gunnison Basin Public Lands Map; #141, Telluride, Silverton, Ouray, Lake City
Local Maps

Trail Log