Alpine passage connects Molas to Coal Bank

Alpine passage connects Molas to Coal Bank

Peak wildflower season has hit in the high country
In 1879, the Lime Creek Fire burned 26,000 acres of forest. A stalwart scorched tree has stood over 130 years. Linger for a captivating view of Engineer Mountain and the La Plata Mountains.
The trek begins on the Colorado Trail near Molas Pass and makes an arc westward and then south to the Pass Creek Trail, concluding at Coal Bank Pass. Track above the Lime Creek drainage to the Engineer Mountain Trail. Off-trail climb Jura Knob, or remain on the Engineer Mountain Trail, the blue-line option.
Travel basics

Travel: The thru-hike requires a shuttle. From Durango, drive north on U.S. Highway 550 for 35 miles to Coal Bank Pass. Turn west just north of the pass onto a dirt road that leads to parking for the Pass Creek Trail. Drop a vehicle here and continue north on U.S. Highway 550. Crest Molas Pass and take the first signed left toward Little Molas Lake, 0.4 mile north of the pass. Drive 1.1 miles on a good dirt road passing an established campground and park at the Colorado Trail Trailhead. Pit toilet, no water.


Distance and Elevation Gain: If you climb Jura Knob: 15.6 miles with 2,600 feet of climbing. If you forego Jura and stay on the Engineer Mountain Trail: 16.2 miles with 2,700 feet of vertical.


Total Time: 6 to 8 hours


Difficulty: Trail, off-trail (Jura Knob); navigation moderate; One Class 3 move with mild exposure descending Jura


Map: Map of the Mountains Between Silverton and Durango, 2010

Alpine passage connects Molas to Coal Bank

In 1879, the Lime Creek Fire burned 26,000 acres of forest. A stalwart scorched tree has stood over 130 years. Linger for a captivating view of Engineer Mountain and the La Plata Mountains.
The trek begins on the Colorado Trail near Molas Pass and makes an arc westward and then south to the Pass Creek Trail, concluding at Coal Bank Pass. Track above the Lime Creek drainage to the Engineer Mountain Trail. Off-trail climb Jura Knob, or remain on the Engineer Mountain Trail, the blue-line option.

Alpine passage connects Molas to Coal Bank

Hikers move along a linear path hovering at treeline. The trek is a complimentary interplay of forest, tundra, boulders and wildflowers.

Alpine passage connects Molas to Coal Bank

To reach Coal Bank Pass hikers transition from the Colorado Trail to the Engineer Mountain Trail. This junction is located in the high alpine.

Alpine passage connects Molas to Coal Bank

Looking eastward from the summit of Jura Knob, the enchanting Grenadier Range and Needle Mountains are protected within the Weminuche Wilderness.

Alpine passage connects Molas to Coal Bank

Mid-summer, flowers dwarf humans. Hillsides are enveloped in osha, delphinium and corn husk lily.
Reader Comments
click here to add your event
Area Events