Redcloud and Sunshine Peaks Route Guide | Great Starter 14ers
Redcloud Peak and Sunshine Peak are one of the only easy pairs of peaks to bag in the San Juans. The 12.25 mile route to climb them both is only Class 2 and is readily accessible. The toughest thing about this climb is just the time it takes to reach the trailhead in the first place, deep in southern Colorado. In return for the long drive, you’ll find plenty of solitude compared to the Front Range peaks near Denver. If you have time, consider climbing Handies Peak nearby, another popular 14er. Start planning your trip here with my Redcloud and Sunshine Peaks Route Guide.
Redcloud and Sunshine Peaks Route Guide Fast Facts
Redcloud and Sunshine Peaks Route Guide
My Redcloud and Sunshine Peaks Route Guide starts from the Silver Creek Trailhead, which is easily accessible. The trails starts out following a good forest path before it reaches tree line. Continue along the left side of a beautiful creek with the Basin towering ahead of you.
As you near the headwall of the basin, you’re next goal is taking a right turn and heading across the valley. You’re aiming for a broad slope which you’ll climb next.
Across the valley, you’ll find yourself looking up a slope. A series of switchbacks brings you up to the ridge we’ll take to reach the summit. In spring and early summer microspikes and trekking poles are helpful here for snow.
Once up on the ridge, take a right and begin working your way up the ridge towards the summit. There are several interruptions where you have to move to the right to avoid difficult terrain on the ridge proper – don’t try to take shortcuts.
Pass a false summit before seeing the crux of the route left to reach the peak of Redcloud. A large cornice lies along the way in the spring and early summer – avoid getting too close to the edge as they break without warning.
At the summit of Redcloud Peak, stop to check the weather before you make the decision to continue on to Sunlight Peak. Few opportunities exist to bail if storms form, so take caution.
As you get halfway to Sunlight, the remainder of the route will look like this. Stick to the right of the ridge until you get close to a false summit. At that point, cross to the left side and follow the ridge up to the crux.
Once you reach the summit, enjoy the views of the San Juans in all directions. Enjoy some food and water but make sure you head down with time to reach tree line before afternoon thunderstorms move. I hope you found my Redcloud and Sunshine Peaks Route Guide helpful and informative!
My Redcloud and Sunshine Peaks Route Guide includes this topographical map to use along your hike. I recommend downloading this map on your phone or other digital device, and print out a paper backup copy in case anything happens to your electronics on your way to the summit.
Reading my Redcloud and Sunshine Peaks Route Guide is a good start, but you should also check the weather forecast before your climb. Here are several dependable sources to use:
Hiking & climbing 14ers is an inherently high-risk activity – do so at your own risk, and use the following best practices to help keep yourself safe.
- Research your route and bring a compass & topographic map.
- Check the weather forecast and stay home during inclement weather.
- Bring the Ten Essentials and the knowledge/skill to use them.
- Leave your plans with someone back home along with a detailed itinerary.
- Start early, and end early: Be back at tree line by noon to avoid lightning.
- Bring a buddy on your first ascent, preferably someone experienced.
About the Author: Alex Derr
Alex Derr is a mountaineer and blogger based in Denver Colorado. He is working to climb Colorado’s highest 100 peaks, and the 20 tallest peaks in California. He created The Next Summit to share advice, stories, history & reflections from the Colorado Rockies & Sierra Nevada. When not climbing, he is managing the Communications strategy at Visible Network Labs.