Greenhorn Mountain National Wilderness Area, comprising some 22,040 acres
in the southern Wet Mountains, came into being through an Act of Conress in 1993.
Once upon a time there were homesteads and cattle ranches in some areas out here
but over time, they were abandoned and this land was incorporated into the Wet Mountains
section of the San Isabel National Forest. These days there’s no mechanized vehicles
allowed, which includes mountain bikes and hang gliders. Except for the igneuous
intrusion that forms and fills the upper rock faces of the Greenhorn Peaks, this
area of the Wet Mountains is built on carved formations of 1.8 billion year old
granite. The rock of the Peaks themselves plus Santana Cone and Badito Cone are
from one igneous intrusion, about 25 million years ago (about the same time as the
main Spanish Peaks and Mt. Mestas-Silver Mountain-Sheep Mountains intrusions).
Directions: We went to the Ophir Creek Turnoff, just north of Bishop’s Castle
on State Highway 165 and went west on Forest Road 360 to the intersection with the
Gardner Road (FR 634). There we turned left on FR 369 and followed that to the trailhead
at the end of the road. It is a long road with many twists and turns and you don’t
even see Greenhorn Mountain itself until you are almost on it. There are quite a
number of hiking trails leading off along the way and all of it looks gorgeous.