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Courthouse Mountain

Trail Details

Round Trip 3.6 miles
Starting Altitude 10,300ft
Highest Point 12,150ft
Elevation Gain 1,800ft
Round Trip 4-4 hours


The Courthouse trailhead is 1.6 miles south on the West Fork (Cimarron) Road, which turns left off the Owl Creek Pass road (County Road 10) 0.3 mile east of the pass. The trailhead is to the right, and parking is available to the left of the road.


To climb the mountain, follow the well defined trail, which crosses a bridge and climbs 0.8 mile to a ridge. There is a massive boulder and a Wilderness Boundary sign at the junction with the Courthouse Trail. For Courthouse Mountain (12,152 feet) and its superb views turn right; the route goes around the base of a ridge to the left and climbs, then turns right for a view of Courthouse. At that point, go left, climbing a grassy meadow to a ridge with views to the north; head up this to impressive rock formations and turn right. Once at the base of Courthouse's rock steps, scramble to the top. Total distance from the junction is a mile, but this mile is more of a scramble than a hike.

For the Courthouse Trail, veer left at the junction and continue to the end at a trailhead on the Cow Creek road. The trail description, from Cow Creek, is given below.


The Courthouse trailhead on Cow Creek is accessed from County Road 12 out of Ridgway. Drive 7.6 miles to the Cow Creek crossing (no bridge). A 4WD vehicle is needed beyond this point. Cross the creek and drive 1.5 miles to the trailhead. Limited parking is available near the trailhead.


The trail rises steadily along Courthouse creek to gigantic boulders (1.5 miles) along the stream; at 2.1 miles, Stealey Mountain Trail joins from the left. Go uphill. Courthouse turns left to Courthouse Mountain and the West Fork (Cimarron) Road. The trail is usually well defined, though some route finding is required through two meadows. In 1 mile, the trail crosses the first meadow and a fork of Red Creek in a deep ravine. (The Stealey Mountain Trail leaves the Courrthouse Trail to the right 1.3 miles above its previous junction.) The second meadow (0.5 mile) has three posts; at the third post, turn right for the main trail. The ridge, the Wilderness Boundary and the connection (featuring a huge boulder) to the Courthouse Mountain Trail are another 0.4 mile. Turn left here to climb the mountain. Continue ahead for 0.8 mile to reach the West Fork Road.

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Ouray Mountain Rescue, under the direction of the Ouray County Sheriff's Office, is always on call for assistance. The Rescue Team is a volunteer organization of mountaineers, technical climbers, paramedical personnel and a K-9 team. All are experienced in rescue techniques. In order to offset training and equipment expenses, tax-deductible donations are gratefully appreciated. Thank you for your support.

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