Peak(s):  Kenosha Peak - 12,100 feet
Platte Peak - 11,941 feet
Foster Benchmark - 11,871 feet
N-S Twin Cone - 12,340 feet
Mount Blaine - 12,303 feet
Date Posted:  01/06/2013
Date Climbed:   01/01/2013
Author:  Derek
 Travels on the Ben Tyler Trail  

Lost Creek Wilderness : Travels on Ben Tyler Trail

WARNING: Another out of the norm trip report. Instead of focusing on one individual trip, I put this trip report together for the purpose of showing the variety of possibilities one has when using the Ben Tyler Trail from the North Ben Tyler TH. I have used tracks and photos from a number of different trips up the trail to show the different destinations available as well as various examples of the conditions one encounters in the area. I figure since a few of these peaks don't have TR's, the more info the better. It's a bit different, but hopefully not too confusing.

Photos/Tracks are from 11/23/2008, 4/5/2009, 2/7/2010, 5/16/2010, 1/22/2011, 6/22/2011, 11/4/2012, and 1/1/2013. (Photos will be noted of the date taken.)

North Ben Tyler Trailhead - 8,260'

Whether or not you've ever hiked from this trailhead, it's certain that you've at least driven by it from time to time on your way towards the Mosquito/Sawatch ranges via Highway 285. Located between the towns of Grant and Bailey, the trailhead is located at a pull off 6.5 miles west of Bailey and 11.5 miles east of Kenosha Pass. It feels slightly unusual to gear up at your vehicle with traffic wizzing by, but you lose the road sensation quickly once on the trail.

Even though the Ben Tyler Trail offers some great sights and hiking options, part of what makes this spot one of my favorites is the close location to Denver. Aside from the Brookside-Payne Trailhead just north of Bailey, the North Ben Tyler Trailhead is the quickest access point to the Lost Creek Wilderness. A 45 minute drive from Denver that offers 10+ mile/4K+ foot elevation options year round is quite a sweet deal.

North Ben Tyler Trailhead (Parking and Trail Start)

North Ben Tyler Trailhead (Trailhead Sign)

Ben Tyler Trailhead to Ben Tyler Trail/Craig Park Trail Intersection @ 11K

Stats - 4.75 Miles, 2,850' Elevation

Regardless of where your final destination is, all trips from the Ben Tyler Trailhead start with the long 4.75 mile hike up the Ben Tyler Trail. After signing in at the wilderness registry a few steps from the start, you are immediately faced with switchbacks that take you southward up the hillside. These switchbacks are necessary to reach the Ben Tyler Gulch because the spot where the gulch meets the highway a nit further down 285 is surrounded in private property. The switchbacks are over quickly enough, and after another half mile southward, the trail turns westward and enters the Ben Tyler Gulch. Shortly after entering the gulch, you will cross the boundary line of the Lost Creek Wilderness.

The trail follows the gulch steadily, passing from pine to aspen as you work your way up above the 10K mark. Finally, near 10,600' (N39 24.929 W105 38.207) you discover that the trail has finally decided to take a hard left. This marks the beginning of another set of switchbacks that lead 400' to the Craig Park/Ben Tyler Trail intersection. The start of the switchbacks is in a treeless area, making the turn difficult to find in the winter. In fact, I don't think I've completed a winter ascent of this trail without losing it around here. Fortunately, the terrain isn't overly steep in this area that you can't take a bearing and head straight towards the trail intersection above. Needless to say, GPS is nice luxury to have on this trail in winter. When you finally reach the intersection, a healthy chunk of the distance and gain for the day is behind you. Now, depending on the goal of the day, you have the option of turning right and staying on the Ben Tyler Trail (towards Platosha, Foster BM, Twin Cones) or turning left unto the Craig Park Trail. (Towards "Little Platosha", Kenosha Peak and Platte Peak.

Starting the switchbacks up from the TH. January, 2013

Finished with the switchbacks, about to enter Ben Tyler Gulch January, 2013

Well, hello old friend. (Entering the wilderness along the Ben Tyler Trail on a few different occasions.

Entering the gulch. March, 2009

Aspens along the east side of the trail. January, 2013

Summertime aspens along the east side of the trail. June, 2011

Aspen canopy. June, 2011

Canopy after collapse. November, 2012

Canopy just plain "in the way." Moonstalker clearing the path. January, 2011

The start of the switchbacks, 400' below the trail intersection. January, 2011

Snow gets thick in this hood. Greenhouseguy working his way up just shy of the trail intersection. February, 2010

Reaching the trail intersection @ 11K. January, 2013

Ben Tyler Trail/Craig Park Trail Intersection to Southern Summits

Kenosha Peak Stats from Intersection - 1.75 Miles, 1,000' Elevation
(Kenosha Peak RT Total - 13.25 Miles, 3,900' Elevation

Platte Peak Stats from Intersection - 1.8 Miles, 900' Elevation
(Platte Peak RT Total - 13.3 Miles, 3,810' Elevation

For the southern summit options, take a left (southern) turn onto the Craig Park Trail. You'll only be following this trail for about 1 mile, as it slowly and easily ascends to the saddle between Kenosha Peak and Platte Peak. This saddle is also referred to as "Little Platosha". Once on the saddle, the views open up to the South and East. From this point, there will be no more trail to follow, as the Craig Park Trail heads SE in search of the Brookside/Payne Trail. I have often stopped at a nice , large rock cairn for a break at this point, as it is a good landmark to find the trail on your way back later in the day.

Headed south towards "Little Platosha" after turning left on Craig Park Trail. January, 2011

Just shy of the saddle. (Little Platosha) January, 2013

On "Little Platosha". Brian Thomas looking west, our saddle ascent point in the background. January, 2013

Kenosha Peak
From the rock cairn at "Little Platosha", the route is directly west and obvious. It is less than a mile to the summit of Kenosha from here, but the most direct route requires navigation of the willows in Craig Park. Don't spend too much time looking around for the easiest route through the willows, as it seem each option is as good as the next...and none are all that annoying. I will say, this section is easier in winter with the added height of the snow. Once through the willows, head straight up the eastern side of Kenosha Peak. It is steep for about 400', however relents the final 100' and presents a pleasing and easy stroll to the highest point. It is a very mellow summit, marked only by a few large rocks. The views from here are quite nice.

Kenosha Peak from "Little Platosha". January 2013

Looking SE towards Platte Peak from the slopes of Kenosha Peak. January 2013

Willows guarding the ascent of Kenosha. January 2013

Brian Thomas standing atop Kenosha Peak. January 2013

Twin Cones from the summit of Kenosha Peak June, 2009

Derek dwarfed by the expanse of Little Platosha January 2013, photo by Brian Thomas

Platte Peak
From the rock cairn at "Little Platosha", the route up Platte Peak is a bit more obscure than Kenosha. Again, the summit is less than 1 mile away, however you are again blocked by minimal willows and some trees. The easiest route up is to head due east and follow the highest point you can find. After about 250' of elevation, the trees clear away and you are treated to an unobstructed view of the summit. It's an enjoyable stroll to the summit area (well, depending on the weather... ) and a mini scramble atop the highest point.

Looking south towards Platte Peak from "Little Platosha", summit not visible. January, 2011

Todd (zoomie83) headed through the small tree covered section on the way up Platte Peak. January 2011

Exiting the trees, final distance to Platte Peak visible. January 2011

Looking north from just below the summit of Platte Peak on a nicer day. Kenosha Peak just out of sight on the left, the Northern summits (Twin Cones, Blaine and Foster BM) in the distance. June, 2011

Moonstalker, zoomie83 and Brain Thomas on the summit of Platte Peak. January 2011

Ben Tyler Trail/Craig Park Trail Intersection to Northern Summits

Foster/Blaine/N+S Twin Cone Stats from Intersection - 9.75 Miles, 2,250' Elevation
(Foster/Blaine/N+S Twin Cone RT Total - 19.25 Miles, 5,100' Elevation

Revert back to the Craig Park/Ben Tyler Trail Intersection....
For the northern summits option, pass by the Craig Park trail and continue right (west) on the Ben Tyler Trail. The trail has a few minor switchbacks, and gains 650' in just over 1 mile. You will need to follow the trail all the way to the saddle of Kenosha Peak and Foster Benchmark. This saddle is also known as "Platosha". (As opposed to "Little Platosha" a couple miles south.) The trail continues on its way towards the South Ben Tyler TH, but you are done with it once you reach Platosha. The choice/combination of summits from this point are wide open in terms of preference. Just a few things to keep in mind that may help with decision making from this point:

1- There is a rather defined trail that leads from Platosha to the South Twin Cone/Foster Benchmark saddle, skirting the SW side of Foster BM. It's not marked on any maps, but this is a handy trail for coming and going, especially if you want to bypass Foster BM.

2- If headed for North Twin Cone, it's easiest just to summit Mount Blaine on the way, as heading straight for North Twin Cone would result in unneeded elevation loss.

3- None of the willows in here are as bad as they look. Just head through them, don't worry about taking time to find ways around them.

4- North Twin Cone isn't technically part of the LCW. Therefore, there is a road leading to the summit, and the summit is covered in some antennas. Just a fair warning.

5- This northern option is also an alternative way to hike Kenosha Peak from the north. Just head due south from Platosha.

Twin Cones and Foster Benchmark from Platosha November, 2012

Foster Benchmark November, 2012

DanR on South Twin Cone. November, 2012

Peak X and company from Mount Blaine. November, 2012

Summit of Mount Blaine. November, 2012

North Twin Cone from South Twin Cone. November, 2008

South Park from North Twin Cone. November, 2012

North Twin Cone. November, 2012


Red: Ben Tyler Trail Yellow: Craig Park Trail Blue: To Platte Peak Green: To Kenosha Peak Black: Northern Summit Loop

Map of total area. Click to enlarge.

So next time you're looking to get out, look close to home...and check out the options of the Ben Tyler Trail. Also, feel free to give me a shout if you would like a GPX file of any of the routes noted in this report. I would be happy to send one your way.


Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

One of my favorite areas
01/07/2013 12:29
Good old Ben... You always do such a nice job with the LCW reports, Derek - I always see things in your reports that I've missed. Thanks for posting this.


Roadside assistance
01/07/2013 14:24
We always joke about the number of cars parked at the TH as we drive by.

Fair warning: Expect a snow covered trail this time of the year (regardless of lack of snow elsewhere).

Brian Thomas

touching greatness
01/07/2013 16:57
As Roach and Roach said of Mt Blaine, this trip report touches greatness.


01/07/2013 21:30
I really enjoyed this report Derek, bringing in several trips/photos. Thanks for posting and reaffirming that 13ers/14ers are not the only summit attempts for me this winter. Sorry I missed the 1/1/13 adventure... next time!


Thanks for the report!
01/08/2013 04:32
I love this area and need to hike in it more.


01/08/2013 04:39
I had been wondering about this group.

dave alex

01/08/2013 04:40
did you happen to find the register tucked under a rock in front of the summit? my name was added in november. great report and terrific area.


Thanks everyone
01/08/2013 18:04
Great trail, great memories.

Jay- have a couple peaks in the Grant area I'm looking at in the next month or so that are right up your alley. Lets get together again!

Rijaca- Ben Tyler seems to just hold snow, doesn't it? Quite a winter workout. BTW: LCW gathering this year is Lake Park Peak. Maybe we can get up there?

Brian- Going through the photos for this report, I had forgotten that this was actually our 3rd time up that trail together. Lets do a 4th. North to South Ben Tyler TH traverse?

Mindy/Templeton/Mhiker- Even though the Platte Mountains aren't the ”eye candy” of the rest of the LCW, it sure is a great area.

Dave, re: register- this last time up there (1-1-13) I didn't notice a register. Of course, it was horribly cold so I didn't spend too much time looking around for it. Guess I should have looked harder!



Good report
01/08/2013 20:08
I have driven past the Ben Tyler trailhead more times than I could possibly count (both ends when heading for Lost Park th). One of these days I should stop.


I'm there...
01/08/2013 20:59
I'm up for anything around Grant any time - just give me a shout!


01/10/2013 21:41
This is a very helpful. I really need to get down there some day.


Nice warm-up Hike
06/08/2014 22:59
Hiked Ben Tyler yesterday for a 14er warmup hike. We wanted to find a close-in hike that had over 3,000' of gain; at least 10 miles RT; and avoided postholing. Great day with only one other car at the TH. Aspens and flowers are blooming. Appeared like FS has already cleared the trail this season. Didn't have any snow on trail until after the hard left turn, about 10,700'. We went towards Platosha saddle; there were some drifts to step across. We were stopped just below the saddle at 11,600' by complete snow cover over the trail. Great place for lunch and this met our goals for the day. Thanks for the trail descriptions.

Doctor No

Will be doing this on Saturday
05/14/2015 20:50
Thanks for the intel and the great photos! I’ve always driven past this trailhead on the way to "more interesting things", but am really looking forward to this.

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