FATMAP difficulty grade
The Needleton Trailhead is the standard beginning of a long trek into the Weminuche Wilderness to bag four of Colorado's famed 14ers: [Mount Eolus, North Eolus](https://fatmap.com/routeid/2682242/mount-eolus-and-north-eolus-from-chicago-basin), [Sunlight Peak, and Windom Peak](https://firstname.lastname@example.org,-107.6351684,10800.9531028,-49.8434712,127.0114057,3587.5961895,normal).
Most climbers catch the [Durango to Silverton narrow gauge railroad](https://www.durangotrain.com/) to Needleton, but if for some reason you can't get on the train or the train isn't running, you can access Needleton via this hike. This route follows the Purgatory Creek and Animas River trails to reach Needleton from Highway 550.
Needless to say, tacking on an additional 18 miles of hiking cranks up the difficulty of this expedition dramatically! [Purgatory Creek](https://fatmap.com/routeid/2685947/purgatory-creek-trail-out-and-back) itself is a beautiful trail that "winds down a steep slope through large aspen groves along its eponymous stream, making it a cool and shady spot to hike in the heat of summer, as well as an ideal area to search for colorful aspen leaves come fall," according to Terri Cook on [5280.com](https://www.5280.com/2016/09/hike-we-like-purgatory-creek-trail/).
The trail drops 1,500 vertical feet from Highway 550 down to the banks of the Animas River in four miles.