ElevationAscent: 4,215' 1,285 m
Descent: -4,214' -1,284 m
High: 14,264' 4,348 m
Low: 11,048' 3,367 m
GradeAvg Grade: 12% (7°)
Max Grade: 50% (26°)
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“A stunning run up San Juan 14er Monarch Uncompahgre Peak.”— Tyler Prince
Features Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
While the land manager requests dogs be leashed, few runners follow this rule.
Need to Know
While Matterhorn Creek doesn't have a bathroom or any amenities, it is a proper TH, well signed and with a fair amount of parking. A small field next to the dirt lot provides room for around 5-6 tents.
From the upper TH, run on clear, mellow trail for about 0.75 miles. Reach a junction in a clearing, turning right and heading up some switchbacks before continuing north at 11,300 ft. Follow the trail to treeline at 11,600 ft or so. Continue up Ridge Stock Driveway before coming to a junction at 12,000 ft. Turn right, continuing up the Ridge Stock Driveway to Uncompahgre Peak Trail (turning left will take you to Wetterhorn Peak).
Run along a stream on clear trail, mostly singletrack but in some parts a rocky dirt road. The going here is flat and the views are excellent. Passing through alpine tundra, continue N/NE for about a mile. Uncompahgre will be clearly visible, as will the trail. Angle to the right, hop streams for about 2 more miles on flat to slightly downhill terrain. It's frustrating losing elevation here, especially while Uncompahgre is just to your left. There are gullies you can scramble up, but these are composed of loose, steep, dangerous talus. While they may save you elevation gain, they are unlikely to save you time or energy. Sticking to the trail is recommended.
A little over 5 miles into your run, you'll finally turn off the Ridge Stock Driveway, angling left up a switchback and reaching the clear Uncompahgre Peak Trail. (NOTE: there is another trailhead to the east; if you see runners coming from here don't get confused). From here it's only about a mile to the summit (but also around 1,500 ft gain). Run up a steep dirt trail, following some switchbacks. These will stay just left of the mesa-like formation of Uncompahgre's summit. Pass through a steep, rocky portion before gaining the south ridge at 13,800 ft.
From here, the trail disappears behind the ridge, hugging Uncompahgre's west side. Come to about 200 ft of class 2+ rock, the crux of the run. After making it through this loose, steep section, come to a flat area just below the summit. There may be multiple trail segments here, but they all lead to the same place. Pick a path, angle up toward the right past the final 100 ft of gain, and reach the top. Uncompahgre has a unique, flat summit, similar to but even larger than Longs Peak's football-field-like table top.
From here, you may head back to Matterhorn Creek or, if time permits, head back to the junction to run Wetterhorn Peak (it is recommended this double be done with Wetterhorn first - it's closer to the trailhead, so you're more likely to summit at least one peak should bad weather hit).