| A willows bypass route from Sawtooth / Mt. Evans
Not so much a trip report - more of a route description back from the Sawtooth/Evans. I don't remember seeing a description of this route back, but I remember hearing that it existed.
Also, see this trip report by mt_turtle, which inspired me to post this one:
There is a trail along the north side of Scott Gomer creek that leads back to Guanella Pass and bypasses most of the willows. Generally, you find it by an easy bushwhack off the shoulder of Spalding down to the creek, crossing the creek and finding it among some rocks between a pond and a small cliff. Here is a topo representation:
Modified 14ers.com topo
Once across the creek, parallel it downstream until it starts to drop off in a cascade
Come above this pond with a rock outcropping to hiker's right - The trail actually goes through the clearing on the far side of this pond, but is very hard to spot in this photo
The rock outcropping just above and right of the pond - Get to the top of these rocks and you will see the trail coming down from the north and heading southwest to the forest and Guanella Pass
Push back the bushes here (the ground is dry) and an easy scramble over these rocks leads to the trail (blue arrow in the upper left)
Just got on the trail - you can see the trail angle up and left across the clearing
Looking back at the route from just on the trail
Another view looking back at the rock outcropping
This trail takes you pretty much back to the parking lot. But the tough part may be the last couple hundred yards. Once you get so close to the car that you can taste it, the trail seems to peter out in the willows not far from the boardwalks, and it becomes a "pick your own" route for a short but potentially sloppy finish. When I did this in June, the willows section was pretty dry. But in August, it was VERY soggy (and it was raining at the time, too). At the very least, this route bypasses about 90+% of the willows (I've also slogged right through the middle of them - and this is WAY better.)
Hope this helps. I'd appreciate any comments, updates, or improvements to this route. I think I saw someone mention another route that bypasses the willows on the southern side - i.e., closer to being under the Sawtooth. I'd be interested in more info about that.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):