I orignally heard about this trail Spring 2013 from a coworker as a good early season trek. Unlike many other trails above 10,000 feet, this one is dry by early June most years, due to a great Southern exposure along much of the trail. In any case, I finally got around to doing this one, to get back into the swing of things after a long mud season.
The trailhead satellite imagery is now outdated. From 285 past the trailhead is a newly paved two lane road. Even the trailhead parking turnout is nicely graded and paved. My partner and I showed up a bit before 8am to two other vehicles: an older woman we caught up with a half-mile in, and a couple we summited right after. There was a heavy fog over the area which we broke through after ascending 500 feet.
Intially one is walking through open meadow, then ascending over some hard pack trail. 2-3 miles in, this turns into a wet pine forest next to Ute Creek. This then gives way to Aspens surrounding various glades, which then transitions to dry pine forest. Be sure to head East (right) at the trail junction at 11,000 feet. Finally, upon reaching the park at 12,000 feet, the trees disappear and it is rocks and high-alpine grasses.
Navigating the Park
The entire trail is almost too straightforward and well maintained (not even rocks on the trail), until reaching the alpine park. Once you break tree line onto the park, there are a variety of ways to head to the peak. The general idea is to head NNE. A few images are provided to keep you going fast, if you do not want to play in the rocks.
- Mosquitoes exist at the trailhead (not out at 8am, but bad at 1pm), in the wet sections next to Ute Creek, and at the peak. If you are walking at a good pace, they will not bother you. Stopping or using a friendly tree can become painful. Fortunately there were strong enough gusts at the summit.
- It started to precipitate graupel halfway across the park at 11:15am on the return. Turned to rain below 11,500 feet. A little below 11,000 feet and it became perfectly sunny again.
- 12 miles RT ~ 5 hours (includes 4 * 5 minute breaks, and 30 minutes at peak)
- USGS topographical maps from USGS Map Locator:
- NOAA Point Forecast
- Further posts on the subject:
549 words. Post tags: Lost Creek Wilderness, Pike National Forest, Jefferson, Colorado, mountain, and trails.