Engineer Mountain Trail
Part of the High Country trails.
Engineer Mountain is a favorite hike or ride that is well marked and in close proximity to Durango, making it quite popular in the summertime. Engineer Mountain is the prominent “double” cone which can be seen when driving northbound on Highway 550 beyond Purgatory in the San Juan National Forest. It is a fun and challenging mountain with awesome panoramic views in all directions from the summit, since it’s nearly 13,000’ and stands alone. The most direct ascent starts at Coal Bank Pass on Highway 550 and goes up the Pass Creek Trail. While only 4.4 miles round trip, it’s considered a difficult climb due to the narrow ridge, loose talus, and the exposed crux move. Gain is 2,378 feet. The hike climbs up moderate switchbacks and then gradually climbs up to the base of Engineer Mountain. Much of it falls on the heavily timbered northern aspect of the mountain, and patches of snow may linger in mid-summer. Toward the top, the trail breaks out into beautiful alpine meadows at the base of the peak, offering sweeping views of the Needles Mountains and Animas Valley. This hike is great in July/August when wild Columbine, Orchids, Primrose, Geraniums, Coneflowers are abundant – and the views are incredible.
Map & Directions
Map Coordinates: 37.696589, -107.799482
Where's the Trailhead?
dIRECTIONS TO TRAILHEAD
From 9th Street and Main Avenue in Durango, head west on 9th Street toward Camino Del Rio (Highway 550). Turn right onto Camino Del Rio (HWY 550) and continue north on Hwy 550 past Purgatory Resort toward Silverton. Coal Bank Pass is 35 miles north of Durango, 13.5 miles south of Silverton, on Hwy 550. Slow down after mile marker 56 (it’s between mm 56 and 57), and you will see a parking area and restroom facility on the east side of the road at Coal Bank Pass with a pull off spot with restroom facilities (but don’t park there). Instead, there is a dirt road to the west which is close to the trail head (opposite the rest area) with a small parking area; it is hard to see, so slow down. You will see the trailhead heading north from the parking lot; start there. Make sure you have plenty of water, warm layers, and rain gear. It should take 4 hours to casually hike up and back.
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