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Spending June in SW Colorado - trail suggestions?

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2011 2:25 pm

Spending June in SW Colorado - trail suggestions?

Postby hassavocado » Mon Apr 11, 2011 2:42 pm

Hello all! I'm a big hiking/outdoors fan all the way from Denton, Texas. Turns out I will be returning to Colorado this June to help work on a friend's record. We'll be setting up shop in a home near the Lake City/Powderhorn Wilderness area and I've been trying to do a little research about some great hiking trails and scenic areas to explore while I'm in the area (June 7th through the beginning of July.)

So I'm looking for suggestions from people who are familiar with this part of Colorado. I realize June is a little early to set my sights on a 14er, but I would like to know if there are any high elevation trails in the area with beautiful scenery that would be ready to hike that time of year. Mainly looking for day hikes under 12 miles round trip, but if there are some overnight backpacking trips that I wouldn't want to miss out on, please include them in your suggestions!

Thanks in advance - and looking forward to hearing about some new and exciting places to visit.

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Re: Spending June in SW Colorado - trail suggestions?

Postby MtHurd » Mon Apr 11, 2011 3:01 pm

The possibilities are endless, especially from about mid-June on. You will run into some snow, but most of it will be fairly tame and doable without any snowshoes or other equipment. San Luis from Stewark Creek is doable in early June. If you don't want to do a 14er and just want to do a hike, about a mile before the Stewart Creek Trailhead is Nutras Creek. Hike up this creek towards Stewart Peak and you will see dozens of beaver dams and lots of elk. There is some bushwhacking involved when the river narrows down a few miles up, but it's not too bad. The elk are going to be mostly before the bushwhacking begins though. If you get through the bushwhacking, then Stewart Peak is an easy ascent up tundra.

All the other 14ers are also doable (Redcloud, Sunshine, Handies, Uncompahgre, and Wetterhorn, but will be much easier if you have a 4x4.

As for 13ers, Rio Grande Pyramid will be a good one.

If you have a 4x4 and can get up to Kite Lake, a hike up and just a little past Hunchback Pass will get you good views of the eastern Grenadiers.

Another good hike that will probably land some good elk viewing would be to climb Summit Peak via Treasure Creek.

Be sure and stop by Windy Point on your way down into Lake City from Slumgullion Pass. Great views of Wetterhorn and Uncompahgre.

Re: Spending June in SW Colorado - trail suggestions?

Postby gonzalj » Mon Apr 11, 2011 9:48 pm

Ditto on what Barry already mentioned (you are going to an incredibly georgeous part of the state and the drive over slumgullion pass is extremely impressive. As Barry mentioned, if you have a 4wd vehicle then there are many options over the alpine scenic loop that goes between lake city and ouray - including nellie creek that goes towards uncompahgre - and american basin and cinnamon pass by handies, sunshine & redcloud. Also, off of highway 149 between lake city and creede there are numerous pull offs for hiking & camping including the spectacular north & south clear creek falls and a little further south (south of creede) closer to wolf creek pass (but still off of 149) is the Rio Grande wilderness with a boat load of options. Anyway, all the best and enjoy.

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Re: Spending June in SW Colorado - trail suggestions?

Postby rocky » Mon Apr 11, 2011 11:35 pm

gonzalj wrote:Ditto on what Barry already mentioned (you are going to an incredibly georgeous part of the state and the drive over slumgullion pass is extremely impressive. As Barry mentioned, if you have a 4wd vehicle then there are many options over the alpine scenic loop that goes between lake city and ouray - including nellie creek that goes towards uncompahgre - and american basin and cinnamon pass by handies, sunshine & redcloud. Also, off of highway 149 between lake city and creede there are numerous pull offs for hiking & camping including the spectacular north & south clear creek falls and a little further south (south of creede) closer to wolf creek pass (but still off of 149) is the Rio Grande wilderness with a boat load of options. Anyway, all the best and enjoy.


Perhaps Gonzalj is referring to the Rio Grande Reservoir area which adjoins the Weminuche Wilderness. (There is no Rio Grande Wilderness.) There is a nice USFS campground at the "dam end" of the lake (Thirty Mile Campground). From there, you can easily access trails up Squaw Creek and Weminuche Creek - at the other end of the lake is access to the trail up Ute Creek. All of these trails lead up toward the Continental Divide Trail. In June, there will still be a fair bit of snow up high - but as this has been a low snow winter, you'll find it better going than most years. You should be able to get some good information regarding road and trail conditions from the Creede Forest Service office (719-658-2556). If you are driving south from Lake City, the turn off of Hwy 149 to FS Road 520 leading to Rio Grande Reservoir is well marked. It is before you reach Creede (not south of Creede).

Another wonderful hike (overnight if you don't want to do 16+ miles in one day) is to the Wheeler Geologic Area in the La Garita Wilderness. Here is the link to a good description of Wheeler: http://www.sangres.com/features/wheelergeologic.htm The turn to access "Hanson's Mill" - the starting point for the hike - is up "Pool Table Road" at about milepost 14 on Hwy 149. The old mill site (now just an old pile of sawdust) is 10 miles up Pool Table on a good graded forest service road.

Enjoy yourself.
rocky
south fork, colorado

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Re: Spending June in SW Colorado - trail suggestions?

Postby hotrod » Tue Apr 12, 2011 7:40 am

In 1994 (?), just after it had been named a Primitive Area (now an official Wilderness), I hiked into the Powderhorn Wilderness from the north, taking a rough road off of 149. It's a five-mile hike to Powderhorn Lakes, with scenic camping on the east side of the lake with a cliff view on the west side of the lake. The next day I hiked to the north along the east side of the lake, then west/left up to the top of the Calf Creek Plateau which is over 12,000 feet. I hiked across the plateau for a while, mostly at that time a rock hop but now that the area is more known there could be a trail. The views are great up top, even seeing Uncompaghre in the distance, and I had a coyote approach until he spotted me. There was a mountain lion track near my tent.

All this could easily be done in one day by a fit hiker, and I highly recommend it. It is northeast of Lake City, I am guessing about 25 miles to the entrance road off of 149. Check out the Calf Creek Plateau CO terrain map on maps.google.com.
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Re: Spending June in SW Colorado - trail suggestions?

Postby Summit Lounger » Tue Apr 12, 2011 8:27 am

Snow Mesa is worth the visit. I rode by mtb up there once, and camped another time. Great views, large elk herd, did not see anyone either time even though it is only 3 miles from Spring Cr. pass.

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