At 13,807 feet, Niagara Peak is just a few feet shy of being a member of the coveted Colorado Centennial Peaks. It’s #101 on the list of state summits. Located near Animas Forks just north of Silverton, it resides in a pretty snowy zone of the San Juans.
Niagara Peak can be approached several different ways. The most straightforward route to some really good ski lines is via the Animas Forks jeep road. Drive north out of Silverton until you reach the Grouse Gulch Trailhead. A secondary, less well known mining road up into Burns Gulch departs just downvalley from there. Find the road and simply follow it up into the valley to the southeast.
As you break out of the trees you’ll begin to catch views of Niagara Peak and its impressive north face. The good continuous ski lines are a bit around the corner to the left as you look up valley. Simply continue following the easiest path up towards the distant saddle between Jones Mountain and Niagara Peak.
Once you reach the head of the valley, the ski lines will come into clear view. They’re north facing, with a slight lean to the east.
Ascend to the summit, either by gaining the ridge and bootpacking up, or by doing some steep skinning up the north facing snow. From the valley floor it’s about 1000 vertical feet up.
Enjoy the views, you’re really in the heart of the San Juans. Red Mountain Pass is to the west, Cinnamon Pass to the north, Half Peak and Cuba Gulch to the east, and of course Silverton and the Weminuche Wilderness to the south.
Enjoy the ski back down. High, north facing snow should offer great skiing late into May. Once you make it off the steeper summit pitch you’ll have a fun valley schuss back down to snow line and the trailhead.
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