General Hiking Info & Suggested Guidelines – With the freedom that hiking, horse riding & mountain biking offer comes the responsibility to care for the environment and to respect the rights of others. The complex ecological interrelationship in which our wildlands have existed for thousands of years can easily be upset or even destroyed by the careless recreationist. If our wildlands are to exist for future generations to enjoy please adopt the backcountry ethic of “take only photographs & leave only footprints.”
Plan Ahead & Prepare
Travel & Camp on Surable Surfaces
Dispose of Waste Properly
Leave What You Find
Minimize Campfire Impacts
Be Considerate of Other Visitors
South Platte Ranger District - Recreation
The South Platte Ranger District is located east of the Continental Divide in the central Rocky Mountains and lies adjacent to the Denver metro area in Park, Jefferson, Douglas, Clear Creek, and Teller counties.
The South Platte District is 450,000 acres in size with elevations ranging from 5,800' along the South Platte River, to over 14,000' at Mount Evans.
The Buffalo Creek Recreation Area contains over 50 miles of multi-use, non-motorized trails that tie into the Colorado Trail in several places. There are numerous options available for riding or hiking. Some of the old logging roads provide two-track while connecting trails offer single track. It takes about an 1.5 hours to drive to this area from Denver.
The Little Scraggy Trailhead is located in the eastern portion of the BCRA, and is the beginning point for Segment 3 of the Colorado Trail (#1776), and also provides access to the Little Scraggy Trail (#765) and other nearby trail segments.
The Shinglemill Trailhead is located in the eastern portion of the BCRA, and provides access to the Shinglemill Trail (#725), Morrison Creek Trail (#724) and the Colorado Trail (#1776) Segment 3.
The Buffalo Trailheadis located in the cetral portion of the BCRA, and provides access to the Green Mountain Trail (#722), the Colorado Trail (#1776), and other nearby trail segments.
The GasHouse Trail is located in the western portion of the BCRA, and provides access to the Gashouse (#726) and Redskin Creek (#759) trails.
The Miller Gulch Trailhead is located in the western portion of the BCRA, and provides access to the Miller Gulch Trail (#730) and other connecting segments.
The Pine Valley Ranch Trailhead is located just north of the BCRA, and provides access to the Buck Gulch Trail (#730) and other connecting segments.
Colorado Trail #1776 - Pike National Forest
There are a total of 28 trail segments. Segments #1, #2, and #3 are located on the South Platte Ranger District. Segments #4, #5, and #6 are located on both the South Platte and South Park Ranger Districts, Pike National Forest with Segment #6 continuing through South Park to the Dillon Ranger District, White River National Forest.
Segment1 — Waterton Canyon Trailhead to South Platte River Trailhead
Segment 1 of the Colorado Trail (#1776) begins at Waterton Canyon The canyon offers a 6.5-mile route to a view of Strontia Springs dam. The trail continues to the south of the reservoir for about 10 miles to the confluence of the North Fork of the South Platte River and the Gudy Gaskil bridge.Follow Wadsworth Boulevard (State Route 121) south of State Route 470 past Chatfield Reservoir. Turn left on Waterton Road. Parking area is to the left.
Segment2— South Platte River Trailhead to Little Scraggy Trailhead
Segment 2 of the Colorado Trail (#1776) begins at the South Platte River Trailhead/Gudy Gaskill bridge, and continues towards the Little Scraggy Trailhead.This trail winds its way through the Buffalo Creek Fire burn area (1996) offering views of the fire's devastation and the recent new growth
Segment3— Little Scraggy Trailhead to Rolling Creek Trailhead
Segment 3 of the Colorado Trail (#1776) begins at the Little Scraggy Trailhead in the Buffalo Creek Recreation Area.From US Highway 285 turn south at Pine Junction on to Jefferson County Road 126. Follow Jefferson County Route 126 to NFSR 550 approximately 13.5 miles south. Turn west on NFSR 550. The Little Scraggy Trailhead is on the right at this start of this road.
Segment4— Rolling Creek Trailhead to Long Gulch Trailhead
Segment 4 of the Colorado Trail #1776 brings the hiker up out of the Ponderosa pine forests north of the Lost Creek Wilderness and into the open parks and Lodgepole pine and Douglas fir forests to the west. This section of the Colorado Trail closely follows the old Hooper Trail, a logging road built in 1885 by W.W. Hooper From the Rolling Creek Trailhead the Colorado Trail heads west a short distance, then joins the old Hooper Trail logging road and turns southwest. The old logging road that is very distinct and its gentle grade makes for pleasant hiking. A short distance after crossing the Wilderness boundary, the trail meets the south end of the Payne Creek Trail, which goes north toward Bailey. The Colorado Trail continues rising to the southwest, but before reaching the saddle it leaves the old road and begins to climb rather steeply to the south to avoid some large bogs. At the top of the saddle it rejoins the old road and begins to descend into the North Fork Lost Creek drainage. Upon reaching the creek, the trail joins the Brookside-McCurdy Trail at the North Fork Trailhead. From here the two trails follow the same route up North Lost Park for roughly 2.5 miles. When the two split the Colorado Trail continues up North Lost Park to its west end and then descends to the Long Gulch Trailhead.
Segment5 — Long Gulch Trailhead to Kenosha Pass East Trailhead
Segment 5 of the Colorado Trail #1776 winds gently westward from the Long Gulch Trailhead through pine and fir forests, gradually emerging into grassy, open stretches with intermittent aspen stands and Bristlecone pine toward Kenosha Pass
From the Long Gulch Trailhead, two short spur trails connect with the Colorado Trail. The Lost Creek Wilderness boundary is crossed just west of the trailhead a short distance. The trail winds westerly across a saddle at about 10,550 ft., then gradually descends along the north side of the Black Canyon to Rock Creek, and a junction with the south end of the northbound Ben Tyler trail.
Beyond Rock Creek, the trail begins its ascent toward Kenosha Pass. A short climb up from Rock Creek brings the trail to the Rock Creek Trailhead. West from the trailhead, the trail first follows Johnson Gulch, then traverses along the edge of South Park to reach Kenosha Pass and US 285.
Segment6 — Kenosha Pass West Trailhead to Gold Hill Trailhead
Segment 6 of the Colorado Trail (#1776) begins at the Kenosha Pass West Trailhead and continues through South Park and Georgia Pass to the Gold Hill Trailhead north of Breckenridge.
From Denver, drive southwest on US Highway 285 approximately 50 miles to Kenosha Pass.
The trail segment initiates just south of the entrance to the Kenosha Pass Campground, which is located on the west side of the pass.
Deer Creek Area
Located north of Bailey and US Highway 285 along Park County Route 43. Provides access to the south side of the Mount Evans Wilderness including the Deer Creek and Meridian Trailheads.
Guanella Pass Scenic Byway, can be accessed from either Grant or Georgetown.
The south side of the Byway is located on the Pike National Forest/South Platte Ranger Dist..and provides access to several hiking trails: Geneva Creek Trail (#697), Whiteside Trail (#697.A), Threemile Trail (#635), Burning Bear Trail (#601), Abyss Lake Trail (#602) South Park Trail (#600), Rosalie Trail (#603) and Bierstadt Trail (#711).
The Burning Bear Trail (#601) has two trail heads: east and west. The east end of the trail begins approximately .2 mile west of the parking area for the Abyss/Burning Bear East Trailhead (9,620'). From the small gate at the beginning of the trail, the trail leads northwest in an open meadow for about 200 yards, and then crosses a large bridge over Geneva Creek. The trail then continues west and south towards Hall Valley.
The Geneva Creek Trailhead provides access to the Geneva Creek Trail (#697), which travels upstream for approximately 3/4 miles to a junction with the Threemile Trail (#635) at the Threemile Trailhead/
Whiteside Picnic Area
The Threemile Trail continues upstream along Geneva Creek from this point, approximately 1/2 mile further, before crossing the Guanella Pass Road and eventually entering the Mount Evans Wilderness.
The Shelf Lake Trail (#634) beings at a junction with the South Park Trail (#600) and the Geneva Creek Road (NFSR 119). For the first two and a half miles, the trail traverses and then climbs steadily in a north-northwest direction in the Smelter Gulch drainage. The trail then rises at a less rapid rate until treeline at about mile 2.7. The final 0.75 mile rises more rapidly in a series of switchbacks up to the shelf on which the lake is located. There are five major stream crossings on the trail. The first two are about 200 feet apart, and are located about 1 mile from the trailhead. Above the second major stream crossing, Smelter Gulch stream will be to the left (south) of the trail. At slightly over 1.3 miles from the trailhead, the trail makes two more stream crossings and the drainage will again be to the left (south) of the trail. At 2.5 miles, you will reach the fifth (and final) major stream crossing. From this point onward to the lake, the drainage is to the right (north) of the trail. As you reach treeline, the trail begins to pass through willows in which there frequently appear to be several trails that come and go. Continue in a north-northwest direction and maintain your elevation if you get confused. As you reach treeline, you will see on your right several series of cascading falls as the terrain steepens. The final stretch of the trail bends left (west) up a steep series of switchbacks on the tundra.
The Gibson Lake Trail (#633) travels in a westerly direction up the Lake Fork drainage. Just below the parking area, you cross the headwaters of the North fork of the South Platte River. The last 1.4 miles drive to the trailhead is very rough and requires high clearance 4WD to access.
From Bailey, drive west on U.S. Hwy 285 for 14.3 miles. Turn right (north) off Hwy 285 onto Park County Road #60. This road is also designated as Forest Service Road #120, and is commonly called the "Hall Valley Road." Travel on #120 for a total distance of 6.5 miles to the trailhead. The last 1.4 miles above Hall Valley Campground are very rough, and border on being classified as a 4WD road. Allow at least 50 minutes to drive the 6.5 miles on Forest Service Road #120. As you drive the #120 road, you will pass Handcart Campground at mile 4,8 (from U.S. Hwy 285), and Hall Valley Campground at mile 5.1. At mile 5.0, just before Hall Valley Campground, bear left at the fork in the road. There is a small parking area at the trailhead.
The Matukat Road (NFSR 211) provides access to the southeast portion of the Lost Creek Wilderness, and to Cheesman Reservoir. It provides a scenic drive with expansive views through part of the area that was burned in the Hayman Fire of 2002, and continues south to connect with the Taryall Road (Park County Route 77).
The Rampart Range Recreation Area provides a unique setting for off-highway vehicle (OHV) enthusiasts to enjoy a variety of riding experiences. From intermediate to expert riders, ATV or motorcycle, the Rampart has something for everyone. Please make sure you are prepared and ride within your abilities.
The Devil's Head Trail (#611) begins at the picnic area adjacent to Devil's Head Campground and ends at Devils Head Lookout Tower, the last of the seven original Front Range Fire Lookout towers still in service. The 1.4 mile long trail takes approximately 45-90 minutes on a one way hike to the base of the tower and has an elevation gain of 865' from the trailhead. The lookout is at 9,748' elevation. This trail receives heavy use. Devil's Head Lookout Trail can be reached by traveling approximately ten miles west of Sedalia on Highway 67 to the Rampart Range Road. Turn left (south) on the Rampart Range Road for approximately eight and one-half miles to the trailhead.
The Indian Creek Trailhead is near the gate to the right of the parking area and accesses the Indian Creek Trail (#800), and Ringtail Trail (#699). After the trailhead the trail splits, both directions and will complete the loop. Taking the left fork, the trail goes uphill and contains the majority of the difficult sections. At approximately 1.75 miles, the trail crosses a social/unofficial trail, stay to the left and continue for a mile past a second social trail crossing. The main trail will take a sharp right at this point and heads north. At approximately half a mile, the trail will come to another junction, take the left fork to continue the loop. At approximately 1.5 miles up the trail, it will begin to descend in a north/northwesterly direction for another 1.5 miles. At the next junction, the trail goes straight ahead into Roxborough State Park or to the right to continue to loop. (Roxborough State Park does not allow bicycles within its boundaries except on this section.) Taking the right fork, the trail continues uphill for about 1.5 miles and then begins to descend back to the trailhead. The trail will cross two more junctions, at the first function take the left fork, and at the second take a right.
The Cheesman Canyon Trailhead is located along Jefferson County Route 126, approximately 22 miles from south of Pine Junction from US Highway 285.
The five-mile Gill Trail#610 follows the South Platte River through Cheesman Canyon and ends at the upper Cheesman Resevoir Trailhead. The trail is difficult and steep in many sections and there are no facilities in the canyon.
Gill Trail #610 provides foot access to Cheesman Canyon. The area is frequented by anglers. This five-mile trail follows the South Platte River through Cheesman Canyon and ends at the upper canyon trailhead at Chessman Resevoir. The trail is difficult and steep in many sections.
South Park Ranger District
South Park Ranger District inludes South Park, part of the Mosquito Range, Eleven Mile Canyon and Jefferson Lake Recreation Areas, and the Tarryall Mountains and Puma Hills.
Buffalo Peaks Wilderness offers a great variety of recreational opportunities. There are many miles of trail in or near the wilderness area and all wilderness regulations apply. Trails in the wilderness area are for foot traffic only and not open to motorized vehicles or bicycles.
Buffalo Peaks Trailhead provides access to a middle section of Salt Creek Trail which accesses southeast portions of Buffalo Peaks Wilderness. From Fairplay, CO take US Highway 285 south for 12 miles. Turn west onto Forest Road 431. Follow Forest Road 431 for about five miles to the trailhead.
Lynch Creek Trailhead Provides access to Buffalo Peaks Wilderness via the Rough & Tumbling Trail #617. Hikers may also enjoy walking the Salt Creek Trail #618 which skirts the wilderness area boundary also making some sections acceptable for mountain bikers. From Fairplay travel south on US 285 for about 12 miles to Forest Road 431 and turn right. Follow this road for seven miles miles to the trailhead at the end of the road.
McQuaid Trail crosses the eastern foothills of the Buffalo Peaks. Hikers will encounter gentle rolling terrain comprised of ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, and quaking aspen. This trail has very little elevation change.
1. From Fairplay, take US Highway 285 south for about 15 miles to Forest Road 433 (Pony Park Road). Stay on this two-track, high clearance road for three miles to the trailhead.
2. From Fairplay, take US Highway 285 south for 18 miles to Forest Road 435 (Salt Creek Road). Stay on this road, which is suitable for passenger cars, for about three miles to the trailhead.
North Salt Creek Trailhead provides access to Buffalo Peaks Wilderness on Salt Creek Trail after skirting the southwestern boundary. Going northeast on Salt Creek Trail also skirts the outside boundry of the wilderness area, so mountain biking is authorized here.From US Highway 285 just north of Antero Junction turn west on Forest Road 435 (Salt Creek Road). Follow this road to the trailhead at the end of the road.
Rich Creek Trail provides access into the Buffalo Peaks Wilderness. This trail can be combined with Tumble Creek Trail (aka Rough and Tumbling Trail) to form a loop of about ten miles.
From US Highway 285 follow County Road 22 (Weston Pass Road) for about eight miles. The trailhead is off this road just before you come to Weston Pass Campground.
Ridgeview Trail This is a short 1.4 mile trail that provides fishing access in Rich Creek and a scenic overlook above the South Fork of the South Platte River Drainage. This trail is near Buffalo Peaks Wilderness.Access is at the Weston Pass Campground, along County Road 22, which goes to Weston Pass, or from the Rich Creek Trail #616.
Rough and Tumbling Trail, also known as Tumble Creek Trail, provides access to Buffalo Peaks Wilderness. It connects with Rich Creek and Salt Creek Trail offering the hiker opportunities for making their own loops. Only a small portion of this trail runs outside of the wilderness area, so leave your bicycle at home. 1. From Fairplay, follow US Highway 285 south to County Road 22 and turn right. Follow County Road 22 for about eight miles to the Rich Creek Trailhead. Hike south for Rough and Tumbling Trail.
2. From Buena Vista, follow County Road 371 north to County Road 375 to Forest Road 375. The trail begins at Four Mile Trailhead.
Salt Creek Trail provides access into Buffalo Peaks Wilderness and parts of the trail are also located outside of the Wilderness area. Because of this, it's available for a variety of uses such as quiet backcountry hiking as well as mountain biking.
Be sure you are aware of which part of the trail you are on, so that you don't violate any rules that govern the use of wilderness areas, such as no mountain biking.
Eleven Mile Canyon Recreation Area is located below the dam of the Eleven Mile Reservoir near Lake George in the southeast corner of South Park. The narrow, dirt road traversing the canyon used to be the old Colorado Midland Railroad bed before the dam and reservoir were constructed. Unlike the reservoir area, which has an open basin and rangeland type topography, the canyon itself is forested, lush, and rocky. Eleven Mile Canyon cuts through the plain holding the South Platte River in its rocky bottom. As the river is unleashed from the dam above, its twists and crashes against huge boulders lining the canyon floor. A canopy of large trees provides a screen of shade that floats across the canyon with the moving sun. Eleven Mile Canyon is an unexpected paradise. From Lake George, CO at US Highway 24 take County Road 96 south. After two miles veer right at the fork to stay on 96.
Hard Rock Trail is a .9 mile self-guided interpretive walk and includes an additional .6 spur, which provides an overlook of the canyon. The trail explores the diverse life of the region that extends from the Riverside Campground to the Blue Mountain Campground or vice versa. Access this trail at Riverside Campground in Eleven Mile Canyon or at Blue Mountain Campground on County Road 61.
The Overlook Trail offers great opportunities for viewing Eleven Mile Canyon and Eleven Mile Reservoir; however, it does not provide access to the Reservoir. Occasionally, golden eagles can be viewed nesting in the nearby granite cliffs and crags. In the late spring this is a great location to spot bald eagles.Access to this trail is at Spillway Campground located in Eleven Mile Canyon. Spillway Campground is the furthest campground from the canyon entrance. The trailhead is located in the campground across from the pay station. Please do not park in campground; parking is at the spillway dam.
French Pass trail provides access to the Continental Divide between Bald Mountain and Mount Guyot. The trail is not always easy to follow and isn't well signed. From the southern trailhead it leads up the French Creek drainage, beginning at approximately 10,520 feet in elevation. Within 4.5 miles hikers reach the summit of French Pass. The trail continues into the White River National Forest. This trail is not reccomended for winter use due to avalanche potential.From US Highway 285, take County Road 35 north from Jefferson to County Road 54 (Michigan Creek Road) and continue toward Georgia Pass. Drive just over two miles past Michigan Creek Campground to a point where the road crosses French Creek. Park in a flat area just before reaching this crossing.
Gold Dust Trail provides access to Boreas Pass via the old Boreas Pass Wagon Road, which it connects to after crossing FDR 406. Much of the northern portion of the trail follows an old flume that diverted water from North Tarryall Creek and its tributaries to mining operations located in the upper Tarryall Drainage. This portion of the trail is excellent for snowshoers and cross country skiers.To access the trail from the south, go to the town of Como from US Highway 285 and follow the signs to the Church Camp (about 1.5 miles). The trail begins on the left by the Church Camp sign and fence before you enter the Church Camp parking lot. There is a wide spot in the road approximately .3 miles past the trailhead where you can park.
Jefferson Lake Recreation Area is a popular area for camping, picnicking, fishing, and hiking. There are a number of campgrounds available, but none are located directly on Jefferson Lake. For backpacking and day hiking, the Colorado Trail passes through the area on its way to Georgia Pass and the Jefferson Lake and Jefferson Loop trails also offer day hikers options for long or short walks.
Jefferson Lake Recreation Area is a fee area managed by concessionaire located northwest of Jefferson off US Highway 285.From Jefferson, CO take County Road 54 north until the road forks, then turn right onto County Road 37 and follow the road until you reach the fee booth.
Segment 6 of the Colorado Trail is located between the Kenosha West and Gold Hill trailheads. It can be accessed at several points along its distance. This is a popular trail with mountain bikers.
1. Kenosha Pass West Trailhead: At the top of Kenosha Pass park on the shoulder of the highway and walk through Kenosha Pass Campground to access the trail.
2. Beaver Ponds Picnic Area: From the town of Jefferson on US Highway 285, turn north onto County Road 35. Follow this road to County Road 37 to Jefferson Lake Recreation Area. Pay the day use fee at the entrance station then follow the road to the Beaver Ponds Picnic Area where the trail is located.
3. Georgia Pass Trailhead: Follow County Road 35 north from US Highway 285 near Jefferson to County Road 54. Travel north on County Road 54 to Georgia Pass and the trail is about one mile east of this intersection.
Jefferson Lake Trail is a easy to moderate 1.5-mile trail. It circles Jefferson Lake and provides access for fishing. The trail is best on the eastern shore and makes a nice stroll for those who do not ordinarily hike.From US Highway 285 at Jefferson, take County Road 35 north to County Road 37 and turn right. Pay the user fee at Jefferson Lake Recreation Area entrance station and continue on the road to the lake and park in the lot.
Jefferson Loop Trail This moderate 5.5 mile trail circles Jefferson Lake. It has several gentle switchbacks that climb to 11,600 feet in elevation. Lodgepole and Bristlecone pines and Engelmann spruce are found along the trail.From US Highway 285 at Jefferson, take County Road 35 north to County Road 37 and turn right. Pay the user fee at Jefferson Lake Recreation Area entrance station and continue on the road to Jefferson Creek Campground and park in spots marked for hikers or park in the lot at Jefferson Lake.
West Jefferson Trail goes up to the Continental Divide and an 11-mile loop can be accomplished using the Colorado Trail for the return trip from the Divide.From US Highway 285 at Jefferson, take County Road 35 north to County Road 37. Pay the user fee at Jefferson Lake Recreation Area and continue on the road to either Lodgepole or Jefferson Creek Campground
Limber Grove Trail runs between Horseshoe and Fourmile Campgrounds which are southwest of Fairplay. It is a 1.5 mile moderate hike that passes through a small grove of ancient Limber and Bristlecone pine trees.Travel 1.4 miles south of Fairplay on US Highway 285. Turn right on County Roadd 18 (Fourmile Rd) and proceed a little more than nine miles to a point approximately 200 feet beyond the access road to Fourmile Campground. Park on the south side of the road.
Long Water Trail has many switchbacks and gradually descends to its terminus at the confluence of Tarryall Creek and the South Platte River. This trail was highly impacted by the 2002 Hayman Fire which may cause hikers to lose the trail because of erosion and other damage.From Lake George, travel north on County Road 77 (Tarryall Road) for about four miles and turn right onto Forest Road 210. Follow Forest Road 210 to the intersection with Forest Road 295. The trailhead is not far from this point.
The Brookside-McCurdy Trail is an arterial route from south to north or vice versa through the Lost Creek Wilderness Area. It leads hikers through high elevation meadows, low grassy valleys, unusual granite rock formations, and varied forests all adding variety to the experience. The trail connects with seven other trails in Lost Creek: Colorado (segment 4), Craig Park, Hankins Pass, Lake Park, Lizard Rock, Ute Creek, and Wigwam. With a little planning, these trails can be combined with Brookside-McCurdy to form your own loop.
1. From County Road 77, access the southern end of the trail at Twin Eagles Campground.
2. Follow County Road 56 south from US Highway 285 to the Lost Creek Campground where the trail can be accessed going north or south.
3. In the South Platte Ranger District the trail can be accessed from County Road 64 south of US HIghway 285 between Shawnee and Bailey.
This part of the Colorado Trail corresponds to Segment 4 of the Colorado Trail Foundation. It traverses through the Lost Creek Wilderness, therefore mountian bikes are not permitted. It is a moderate 7.8-mile trail.
1. Long Gulch Trailhead: At the bottom of Kenosha Pass (Fairplay side) on US Highway 285, turn east onto County Road 56 (Lost Park Road). Travel 11 miles to Forest Road 817 and turn left. Park at the end of this short road to access the Long Gulch Trailhead.
2. North Fork Trailhead: Follow the directions to Long Gulch Trailhead but continue on County Road 56 past Forest Road 817 for five more miles to Forest Road 134. Turn left on this high-clearance 4WD road and drive to the trailhead at the end of the road.
3. Lost Park Campground: Follow the directions to North Fork Trailhead but continue on County Road 56 past Forest Road 134 for another mile to the Lost Park Campground. Park just outside the campground and pay the parking fee. Hike into the campground staying to the left and continue downhill. Go through the gate and hike 1.7 miles on the Brookside-McCurdy Trail to its intersection with the Colorado Trail.
Segment 5 of the Colorado Trail is located between the Long Gulch and Kenosha East trailheads. The northern portion of the trail segment from the Rock Creek Trailhead to Kenosha East is outside the Wilderness Area so moutain bikes are allowed on this portion of the trail. However, from Rock Creek Trailhead to Long Gulch Trailhead, mountain bikes are not permitted because this portion is situated in the Lost Creek Wilderness.
1. Kenosha Pass East Trailhead: At the top of Kennosha Pass, turn into the Kenosha east area. The Colorado Trail goes southeast from this area down to the Rock Creek Trailhead and continues to the Long Gulch Trailhead.
2. Rock Creek Trailhead: At the bottom of Kenosha Pass on the Fairplay side on US Highway 285, turn east onto Country Road 56 (Lost Park Road). Travel approximately 7.5 miles to Forest Road 133. Turn left and follow this high-clearance road to the trailhead.
3. Long Gulch Trailhead: Follow the directions to the Rock Creek Trailhead but continue past Forest Road 133 for five miles to Forest Road 817. Turn left on Forest Road 817 and follow it to the trailhead at the end of the road.
Lizard Rock Trail begins at Spruce Grove Campground. The trail leads 2.5 miles one way in Lost Creek Wilderness, past the Hankins Pass Trail and intersects with the Brookside-McCurdy Trail. Along the route you will pass by a unique rock formation, that many visitors say looks like a lizard.The trailhead is located at Spruce Grove Campground off Country Road 77 (Tarryall Road) about 12 miles north of Lake George. Park at the trailhead parking outside the campground if you are not staying in the campground. Stay to the right of the campground, past the outhouse and cross the bridge over Tarryall Creek.
Long Gulch Trailhead provides access to a portion of the Colorado Trail (segment 4).From Fairplay travel north on US Highway 285 to the town of Jefferson. Turn right onto County Road 56 and travel about 10 miles to the trailhead on your left.
Lost Park Trailhead provides access to Lost Creek Wilderness via the Wigwam Trail.From Fairplay travel north on US Highway 285 to the town of Jefferson. Turn right onto County Road 56 and travel about 20 miles to the end of the road where the Lost Park Campground is located. The trailhead is located just before the campground.
North Fork Trailhead provides access to the Colorado Trail (segment 4) going east into Lost Creek Wilderness or going northwest outside of the wilderness area.From Fairplay travel north on US Highway 285 to the town of Jefferson. Turn right onto County Road 56 and travel about 17 miles to Forest Road 134. Turn left and follow this high clearance, rough road to the trailhead.
Rock Creek Trailhead provides access to the Colorado Trail (segment 4), and the Ben Tyler Trail inside of Lost Creek Wilderness. From Jefferson travel north on US Highway 285 to County Road 56. Turn right and travel about six miles to Forest Road 133 and turn left. Stay on this high clearance road to the end where the trailhead is located.
Twin Eagles Trailhead provides access into Lost Creek Wilderness on the Brookside-McCurdy Trail. Once inside the wilderness area, Brookside-McCurdy can be combined with several other trails to form your own loop.From Lake George travel north on County Road 77 (Tarryall Road) and drive for about 14 miles to the campground on your right. Park outside of the campground and walk to the back to access the trail.
Ute Creek Trail provides access to Lost Creek Wilderness. It is a very difficult 4-mile hike because of the steep grade. Extended loop hikes can be made from this trail once it intersects with Brookside-McCurdy Trail within the wilderness area.
1. From US Highway 285 at Jefferson, travel south on County Road 77 (Tarryall Road) for about three miles past Tarryall Reservoir. The trail is on the left side of the road.
2. From US Highway 24 at Lake George, travel north on Country Road 77 (Tarryall Road) for about 17 miles. The trail is on the right side of the road.
Nate Stultz Trail is located near Tarryall Reservoir off County Road 77. It is a moderate three mile trail that splits into two spurs, one going southeast for about two miles and the other going southwest for not quite one mile.Access to this trail is via 4-wheel drive forest roads
1. From US Highway 285, take County Road 56 (Lost Park Road) for about 15 miles to Forest Road 466 (Topaz Road). Continue for approximately 2 miles to the trailhead.
2. From US Highway 285, take County Road 77 (Tarryall Road) almost to Tarryall Reservoir. Turn left onto Forest Road 141 and continue about three miles to the trailhead.
Platte River Trail provides access to the South Platte River. It is an easy to moderate 3 mile hike through forest and meadow. Portions of this trail were impacted by the 2002 Hayman Fire and the trail may not be well defined in some areas.From Lake George, turn north on County Road 77 (Tarryall Road) for one mile to Forest Road 112. Turn right and follow Forest Road 112 to the trailhead, which is about one mile past Happy Meadows Campground.
Platte Springs Trail is a one mile, very difficult hike. It can be accessed by contining from where the Platte River Trail ends at the South Platte River or from the north at the end of Forest Road 210.
1. This trail is an extension of the Platte River Trail at the South Platte River, so you can simply continue from there if you like.
2. To access the trail from the north, travel north on County Road 77 (Tarryall Road) from Lake George for about four miles. Turn right onto Forest Road 210 and follow that to the end where the trailhead is located.
Puma Point Trail-While visiting Wilkerson Pass, visitors may want to take advantage of this .9 mile interpretive trail. It takes you through a meadow, into the woods, and then to a lookout point with spectacular views of South Park and the Mosquito and Sawatch Ranges, and then follow the trail back to its beginning. Be sure to take an intrepretive brochure from the sign in box to expand your knowledge of the area while stretching your legs.This trail is located at the Wilkerson Pass Visitor Center, on Highway 24 12 miles west of Lake George.
Sheep Creek Trail is a moderate 4.9-mile trail offering views of Browns and Breakneck Passes. It is surrounded by aspen tress the majority of the way.From Fairplay, drive 4.5 miles south on US Highway 285 to County Road 5 (Weston Pass Road) and turn right. Follow this road to Forest Road 455 and drive to the end of the road where you can park.
Tie Hack Trail is a 3-mile summer use and a 5-mile winter use trail. It is a fairly primitive route that incorporates old logging roads and in some stretches there is just minimal clearing through the trees; however, it is marked with arrows making it is easier to follow. Please be aware and respectful of private property while using this trail.From Fairplay travel south on US Highway285 for about one mile and turn right onto County Road 18 (Fourmile Road). Travel about 3.5 miles and turn right onto Forest Road 182. In the summer hike or drive the 4-WD road to the trailhead about one mile farther. Winter users will have to snowshoe or ski from this point
Cold-Weather Hiking Tips
It doesn’t have to be the middle of winter to make cold weather a concern on your hiking trip. Depending on where you live and where you’re hiking, you can encounter cold temperatures any time of year that can make your trip uncomfortable, or worse, cause a serious injury or illness.
To have a more pleasant adventure, first arm yourself with some tips and knowledge for cold-weather hiking, including:
Proper cold-weather clothing and gear
Food and hydration
Cold-related injuries and illnesses
Even in summer weather temperatures can drop, weather can change rapidly in Colorado at any time of the year, day or night.
SO MY NUMBER ONE TIP IS: ALWAYS LET SOMEONE KNOW WHERE YOU PLAN TO HIKE AND FOR HOW LONG. CHANGE YOUR PLANS THEN BE SURE TO LET THEM KNOW. ANOTHER HELPFUL THING IS TO LEAVE A NOTE ON CAR DASHBOARD THE DATE YOU GOT THERE, WHAT TRAIL YOU PLAN TO TAKE, AND WHEN YOU HAD PLAN TO GET BACK AS WELL. This way if Search & Rescue has to come out and look for you they will have a better idea where to look.
Second: Even though you may plan for just a DAY HIKE, things can happen that may require for you to spend the night in the woods, should you had no plans to, accidents happen and get hurt, or you get lost, whatever it is, make sure you take more clothes, food & water, and be sure you dress right.
Clothing and Gear Tips for Cold-Weather Hiking
To stay comfortable on a cold-weather hike, it’s critical to wear the right clothing and carry the right gear.
Wear layers: Layering is a three-part system that includes a base layer that wicks perspiration away from your skin, a mid layer that insulates you from the cold and a shell layer that keeps wind and moisture out. The goal with layering is to add and remove layers throughout your hike so you can stay warm and comfortable without overheating and getting sweaty. It can feel like a chore to stop and change clothes, but it’s really important to stay dry. Getting wet on a cold day can possibly lead to hypothermia.
Say no to cotton: When cotton gets wet, it takes a very long time to dry, which can leave you feeling damp, cold and miserable. Synthetic and wool layers dry much faster and will move perspiration away from your skin.
Cover your skin: Any skin that is exposed to freezing temperatures and cold wind is prone to frostbite. Take special care of your nose, cheeks, ears, fingers and toes.
For your hands, try wearing lightweight or midweight fleece gloves under waterproof shell mittens or shell gloves. It’s also a good idea to bring an extra pair of fleece gloves that you keep stowed in your pack in case the ones you’re wearing get wet.
For your feet, wear synthetic or wool socks that fit well. Thicker socks provide more insulation, but make sure they don’t cause your boots to fit too tight, which can cut off circulation. It’s also important to keep your feet dry, so carrying an extra pair of socks to change into is a good idea. Wear waterproof boots if you’ll be trekking through snow, and if you’ll be in very cold temperatures you might require boots with built-in insulation.
For your nose and cheeks, try a neck gaiter for face mask.
For your ears, a winter hat or headband can do the trick. A neck gaiter or face mask may also provide coverage for your ears.
Avoid tight clothing: Wristwatch bands, cuffs of gloves, gaiters and boots that are too tight can cause poor circulation, which can increase your chance of getting frostbite. Make sure your clothing and gear fit properly.
Add heat: Hand warmer and toe warmer packets are a great way to warm up your digits, especially if you’re prone to cold fingers and toes.
Wear a hat: You can lose heat through the top of your head, so pull a winter hat on if you’re feeling chilly.
Keep snow out with gaiters: If your hike will take you through deep snow, gaiters are a must for keeping snow out of your boots. They also add a bit of warmth. Be sure to use waterproof/breathable gaiters for hiking in snow.
Bring goggles or sunglasses: Always protect your eyes from the sun and wind. Many goggles and some sunglasses allow you to swap lenses in and out so you can select the right lens tint for the weather..
Pack a headlamp: If you’re hiking in winter, you’ll have less daylight hours, especially if you’re in the northern part of the U.S. You don’t have to end your trip when the sun goes down, but you must be prepared to hike in the dark. Have a sense for how many hours of usable daylight you have and always pack a headlamp with fresh batteries.
Keep batteries warm: Cold weather can kill batteries quickly. Lithium batteries tend to hold up better in cold temperatures than alkaline batteries, but no matter what battery type you use, it’s best if you try to keep them warm. Stowing your headlamp, GPS, cellphone and other electronics in a pocket close to your body can help.
Apply sunscreen: Just because it’s cold out doesn’t mean you stop worrying about sunburn. In fact, if there’s snow on the ground, the sun’s rays can reflect back up at you, so you need to be diligent about applying sunscreen on the underside of your nose and chin and around your neck.
Bring the Ten Essentials: The Ten Essentials are a collection of items that help outdoor adventurers be prepared for emergency situations. It’s wise to take these items along whenever you head out for a hike, but perhaps even more so when exploring in cold weather where consequences of a mishap can be more severe. Learn more in our article about the Ten Essentials.
Ten Essential Systems
Navigation: map, compass, altimeter, GPS device, personal locator beacon (PLB) or satellite messenger
Headlamp: plus extra batteries
Sun protection: sunglasses, sun-protective clothes and sunscreen
First aid: including foot care and insect repellent (as needed)
Knife: plus a gear repair kit
Fire: matches, lighter, tinder and/or stove
Shelter: carried at all times (can be a light emergency bivy)
Extra food: Beyond the minimum expectation
Extra water: Beyond the minimum expectation
Extra clothes: Beyond the minimum expectation
Hiker Lightening Safety
Intra-cloud lightning is an electrical discharge between oppositely charged areas within the thunderstorm cloud. This type of lightning is not dangerous to hikers unless they are hiking in the clouds.
Negative Cloud-to-ground lightning generally happens during the rain storm. A negative charge builds up in the cloud while a positive charge builds up on the ground. The two opposite charges build until they are drawn together.
Positive Cloud-to-Ground Lightning generally happens before and after a rain storm. A positive charge builds up in the cloud while a negative charge builds up on the ground. The two opposite charges build until they are drawn together. This type of lightning can occur up to a half-hour before or after a thunderstorm. This type of lightning results in more fatalities then the other two types.
Direct Strike - The most common cause of a direct strike is being in the open and the highest spot in the open. Hiking in an open field would be a high risk for a direct lightning strike. Direct strikes are very deadly. In most direct strikes, a portion of the current moves along and just over the skin surface (called flashover) and a portion of the current moves through the body--usually through the cardiovascular and/or nervous systems. The heat produced when lightning moves over the skin can produce burns, but the current moving through the body is of greatest concern.
Direct Strike - When lightning strikes a person, a majority of the lightning will pass over the skin and head towards the ground. The passing over the skin is called a, "Flashover". Lightning can be up to 50,000F, so there is often significant burns. Some of the lightning will also pass inside the body causing damage. It will often cause respiratory arrest and cardiac arrest. If someone in your hiking party sustains a direct lightning strike, they will often require CPR.
People who are struck by lightning often have many medical and emotional issues for a substantial period of time..
Side Flash Lightning - A side flash occurs when lightning strikes a taller object next to the hiker and a portion of the current jumps from taller object to the hiker. Side flashes generally occur when the hiker is within a foot or two of the object that is struck. Most often, side flash victims have taken shelter under a tree to avoid rain or hail. There is a saying among hikers: "Better to be wet and alive, then dry and dead."
Ground Current Lightning - Before lightning can strike, it needs build up a positive or negative charge on the ground. Before or after a storm, you will generally get a negative charge buildup on the ground. During the thunderstorm, you will generally get a positive charge build up on the ground. If you are standing in this charge buildup, the charge buildup will stream up your body. If you are the highest spot, you are likely to experience a direct strike. If you aren't the highest spot, the lightning will strike near you, and you could be electrocuted by Ground Current Lightning.
Ground Current Lightning - If you are standing in the buildup charge, you may experience a metallic taste in your mouth, or you may have your hair stand on end. This means, that lightning is going to strike you are very close to you. If you ever experience this, everyone in your hiking party should run in opposite directions. Having a current buildup on your body is sometimes called a, "Corona
Ground Current Lightning - If lightning strikes nearby, you can still be electrocuted. If you are within 60 feet of a lightning strike, you can still be electrocuted by ground current dissipating outward from the strike. After the lightning hits the ground, the voltage will dissipate as you move away from the strike location. If you have your feet apart, there will be a voltage different between your feet. This difference is what will electrocute you. The farther your feet are apart, the higher the likely hood that you will be killed. This is also why animals are almost always die with ground current lightning.
Conduction Lightning - If you are touching any object nearby that is involved in the lightning, you can be electrocuted. If you are touching a barb-wire fence when lightning strikes at any point along the fence, you can be electrocuted. This includes touching metal handrails, trees, cars, rocks, another person, etc. It is important to not touch objects before, during, or after a thunderstorm.
If you are stuck directly in a thunderstorm, you should stash your backpack and hiking poles away from you until the thunderstorm is completely gone. While lightning is not attracted to the metal, but metal parts will conduct the current that could electrocute you.
Streamer Lightning - As the lightning bolt moves towards the ground, it will often spawn off streamers. New Streamers occur about every 150 feet down the lightning bolt. Streamers can be quite a ways from a lightning bolt. If you happen to be where the streamer comes down, you can be electrocuted by the streamer.
Lightning Safety Outdoors
As many outdoors enthusiasts can attest, thunderstorms can often strike with little to no warning, especially during the warmer months of the year. The lightning strikes that accompany these thunderstorms pose a serious threat to people and safety. Knowing how to react to a sudden storm is critical to ensuring your safety in any situation when you may be caught unexpectedly. The following tips can help you stay safe when a storm does happen.
Find indoor shelter. Get inside the nearest available hard-topped vehicle or building, keeping all windows shut, and stay there for at least 30 minutes after the storm passes before returning outside. Avoid picnic tents, pavilions or other open, outdoor structures.
Get to low ground. Avoid hilltops and open areas. Lightning seeks the highest ground, so if indoor shelter is not available, crouching down in the nearest, lowest, unexposed point is a better bet.
Distance yourself from tall objects. Never stand near tall structures — particularly metal ones — which can act as lightning rods. Avoid lone trees, flagpoles, telephone poles, fences and antennas.
Do not forget, you can sign up to have local weather alerts letting you know when thunderstorms, hail and other severe weather events are expected in your area.
What if You are Caught Outdoors?
If you are caught outdoors, the flash-to-bang method is the easiest way to estimate how far away a thunderstorm is, and how much time you have to seek shelter. First, count how many seconds pass between the flash of lightning and clap of thunder, then divide by five to find the approximate distance in miles.
On a Trail
Always avoid lone trees and other tall objects when on a hiking trail during a thunderstorm. Stay away from rocky outcrops, ledges, water and wet items like ropes and towels. If you are deep in the forest, retreat underneath a group of small trees, preferably surrounded by taller ones. In more open areas, retreat to and crouch down in the closest dry, low area, such as a ravine or valley, and squat in a baseball catcher’s position, and minimize contact with the ground and do not lay flat.
When with other people spread out 100 feet apart from each other
On a Boat
Most lightning-related injuries and deaths on boats occur on vessels without a cabin. Larger boats with cabins are relatively safe, particularly when a lightning protection system is properly installed. If you cannot return to shore before the storm hits, drop anchor and get as low as possible or retreat to a cabin if your boat has one. Remember to stay off the radio unless there is an emergency. It is also a good idea to keep away from metallic surfaces, which may conduct electricity. If possible, return to shore before the thunderstorm reaches your boat, and seek indoor shelter.