Cross Mountain

An Adventure's Sunset

The Plan

Will and Kristen are in town for the weekend and, after much debate, we landed on hiking Cross Mountain—one of the top rated summit hikes in their guide book—which is just outside of Telluride. 

The Adventure

The Drive

Rather than starting early in the morning, we enjoy a nice brunch in town then drive over the pass to Telluride. We’re pleased to find a nice, large parking lot at the trailhead.

The Ascent (via Cross Mountain Trail)

The trail starts out steep through trees, eventually opening up into a basin with a great view of Lizard Head.

Lizard Head
First view of Lizard Head

Winding past Lizard Head and heading onto Cross Mountain, a 10′ tall dirt wind tornado formed and blew right past us!

We hear some thunder but the storm clouds are far away. 


Cross Mountain
Will in front of Cross Mountain
Cross Mountain
El Diente, Mt. Wilson, and Wilson Peak behind Cross Mountain

Splitting off the trail, we head up the grassy ridge toward the peak. 

The grass turns into extremely sketchy loose rock and we scramble our way across. 

Cross Mountain
Loose rock on the way up Cross Mountain

We stopped at flat grassy spot for a break and a snack, debating whether to continue on given the condition of the rock. 

Leaving our bags, we decide to push on to the summit and am I glad we did. The views are stunning!

PC: William Archbold
Lizard Head
Lizard Head

At the top, we have a close up view of Wilson Peak, El Diente, and Mt. Wilson. I’m eager to tackle those 14ers!

Kristen & Will
It was windy up there! PC: William Archbold
PC: William Archbold
PC: William Archbold
Mt. Sneffels in the distance! PC: William Archbold
Sun beginning to set on an excellent adventure

The Descent (via Cross Mountain Trail)

After soaking in the view, we start heading down and arrive back to the grassy area where we left our packs by 6pm. 

For the rest of the hike, we’re treated to golden hour views. 

I spent my first full day in the San Juans welcoming the sun as I hiked up a mountain.  It seems only fitting that I spend my last full day chasing the sun down one.

The sun setting on Lizard Head
Golden Hour

A beautiful end to five weeks of adventure!

Will made a great video of our adventure—check it out!

Video Credit: Will Archbold

The Stats

Stats (per Strava, check out the full stats here):

  • Distance: 9.28 mi
  • Elevation gain: 3,244 ft
  • Total time: 6 hr 38 min
  • Moving time: 3 hr 38 min
  • Average speed: 2.5 mi/h

The Details

  • Trailhead: Cross Mountain
  • Car driven: Jeep Grand Cherokee
  • Day of the week hiked: Saturday
  • Trailhead arrival time: 1:30pm
  • Parking: Large lot at the trailhead
  • Restroom at the trailhead? 
  • Crowd count: Several at the trailhead, a few on the way up, none on Cross Mountain

Gear Recommendations

Trekking poles recommended? Trekking poles were great up until the loose rock.

Shoe verdict: Hiking boots

For other adventure inspiration near Telluride, check out TellurideLewis Mine & Lake, and Sneffels Highline!

Do you have a hike recommendation in the San Juans? Leave a comment below!

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