Williams Creek Hike

williams creek01As-of June 2013

Take Hwy 149 from Lake City to County Road 30 (the Lake San Cristobal turnoff), then about 6.6 miles to trailhead parking.

Quick, short hike or not-so-quick long hike – Williams Creek is one of those something-for-everyone trails for hikers and horseback riders alike. For those with limited time, a trek of about 1.5 miles to a talus slope provides a great, micro-escape into the magical San Juans of Hinsdale County. However, with bright blue skies and a cool, mild breeze beckoning, we chose a close to 6-mile trek to above timberline on Thursday morning, June 20.

Signing in at the trailhead, we left a beautiful flat meadow and hiked primarily "up" the trail, which traverses steep hills, crosses Williams Creek, travels along and above other (somewhat dry) drainages, crosses talus fields, and, almost continuously climbs through pine, fir, aspen and wildflower-laden terrain until it breaks out above timberline. Every now and then, a high meadow provided flatter and open resting places to catch a breath, take pictures, and hydrate.

At about the 2-mile mark the trail crossed a large meadow, eerily "peppered" with the dry bones of a past inhabitant, and joined an old jeep trail. Another 3.5 to 4 miles of uphill climb, with just a few park-like rest points, and we were rewarded with amazing 360-degree views from a 12,000-plus foot precipice above the alpine tundra that adorns the saddle of Grassy Mountain. 

williams creek04This hike to the alpine tundra was well-worth the effort; however, a few trail notes are in order. The "chill" from some fairly high and cold wind gusts above timberline had us happily donning the jackets we had packed. Footing along much of the trail is a bit "tricky," both uphill and especially on the downhill return, so the use of common sense and a hiking stick might make for a happier trekker. Altitude, low humidity, and exertion means bring and drink more water than you think you need. And, should you choose to bring your pup along for the trek, keep it on lead for its sake and that of the wildlife, pack plenty of water for your four-footed friend, and pay attention to its needs as well as your own. (You have boots, pups usually only have pads that may or may not be toughened enough to handle such a rocky trail.)

M. Priest

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Larson Trail Hike

As-of mid June 2013

Fellow "trekkers" – thought you all might be interested in an early-season trail review on nearby Larson Lakes Trail. Starting out a bit below the trailhead at about 8:15 am on Thursday, June 13 (4WD suggested to get from the IOOF Cemetery up to limited trailhead parking), the trail to Larson Lakes was about 4 miles (a bit more if you have to trek to the trailhead or add a hike around the lakes). All-in-all, not a hard trail, but definitely take a lot of mosquito repellant to ward off the sometimes-swarms of little blood suckers!

The first mile of the trail, which leads to Thompson Lake, climbs a bit, but does level out. A hiking stick is a plus to keep from slipping on loose gravel, rocks and dirt both uphill and down, and for quite a few small stream crossings along the entire trail. Not far past the Thompson Lake signpost/turnoff, the Larson Lakes Trail was and might still be blocked by a very large fallen tree. A small detour that entailed climbing over trunk and limbs was all that was needed and the trek continued.

Other than more fallen trees to maneuver around and the stream crossings, the hike to Larson Lakes from Thompson is a relatively easy, flat to minor up-and-down stroll. During the last mile or so, however, a bit of elevation gain might have you breathing harder.

Pluses to this hike are the views, the wildflowers now in very-much bloom, fishing or just relaxing at Thompson Lake and Larson Lakes, and wildlife spotting. Before reaching Larson Lakes, a beautiful meadow opens up on both sides of the trail – and on this hike we watched two young elk crossing in the distance.

Marty Priest

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In-Town Walking Trails

  • Lake City TrailMapRiver Access Trail System
    • The River Access Trail System is only one part of a larger trail system that will continue to Lake San Cristobal and other areas in the near future. Though this aspect of the trail is meant to be a single trail we have subdivided it here into the Lake Fork, Nature Access, and the River Access Trails for your convenience. We hope that you will enjoy your walks and please help us keep our trails and areas clean.
  • Lake Fork Trail
    • Trail begins at Water and 6th Street. It strolls south along the river bank to 5th St pedestrian bridge where it crosses over the river. The trail runs south long Henson Street, joining the Historical Loop between 4th and 3rd Streets. The trail crosses Henson Creek on the pedestrian bridge and continues along Memorial Park. The trail is 3,570 ft. Recently a loop around Memorial Park was added to this section, which takes you to the  handicap and kid fishing pier and sitting areas near the confluence of Henson Creek and Lake Fork of the Gunnison River.
  • Pete's Lake Trail
    • Trail begins either at the North end of Bluff Street or just past the Visitor Center and Post Office. This short trail offers a unique look into the habitat of Pete's Lake and there are several sitting benches along this trial.
  • Nature Access Trail
    • Trail runs along from 8th Street to 6th Street along the bank of the Lake Fork of the Gunnison River where it joins the Lake Fork Trail. This trail provides a picturesque view of the river and is 1,226 ft.
  • River Access Trail (*ADA)
    • The trail is a short loop beginning at the 2nd and Henson Street and ending at the Henson Creek Pedestrian bridge. This trail includes a boardwalk with views of the confluence of the Henson Creek and Lake Fork of the Gunnison River. The walk is 1,170 feet.
  • Henson Creek Trail (*ADA)
    • Trail beings at the Henson Creek pedestrian bridge (Henson and 1st St) and runs west along 1st Street until it intersects Henson Creek Road. The trail turns south at this point, creating a relaxing stroll through the sun and shade along Henson Creek. The trail ends at the ATV staging area and is 8,248 ft.
  • Historical Loop (*ADA)
    • The Historical Loop is the best way to see the unique buildings of Lake City's past. This loop will take you by historical houses, churches, shops and the courthouse. The Museum offers guided tours of these buildings to enrich your walking experience. This loop is 3,860 ft.
  • Lake to Lake Trail
    • Walk the 1.6 mile section beginning at the Lake City Ski Hill (1.5 miles south of downtown on Hwy 149 )

Fourteeners and Thirteeners

Fourteeners and Thirteeners close to Lake City, accessed either off Hinsdale County Road 30/Lake Fork to Cinnamon Pass, or Hinsdale County Road 20/Henson Creek to Engineer Pass, are listed below. Information is not exact and is provided for reference only. Please stop by the Visitor Information Center in Lake City for details, maps, a complete list of all area High Thirteeners, and trail pamphlets, or call 970-944-2527.

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Fourteeners

  • uncom2Uncompahgre Peak (14,309 feet) Trialheads: Nellie Creek Trailhead, 7.25 mi. roundtrip, Moderate, Uncompahgre Peak Quad; Matterhorn Creek Trailhead, 11 mi. roundtrip, Wetterhorn Peak/Uncompahgre Peak Quad; Big Blue Trailhead, 20 mi. roundtrip, Sheep Mountain/Uncompahgre Peak Quad.
  • Redcloud Peak (14,034 feet) Trailhead: Grizzly Gulch Trailhead, 8.5 mi. roundtrip, Moderate, Redcloud Peak Quad.
  • Sunshine Peak (14,001 feet) Trailhead: Grizzly Gulch Trailhead, 9.5 mi. roundtrip, Moderate, Redcloud Peak Quad.
  • Handies Peak (14,048 feet) Trailhead: American Basin (Sloan Lake) Trailhead, 5.5 mi. roundtrip, Easy to Moderate; Grizzly Gulch Trailhead, 8 mi. roundtrip, Moderate, Handies Peak Quad.
  • Wetterhorn Peak (14,017 feet) Trailhead: Matterhorn Creek Trailhead, 7.5 mi. roundtrip, 2500 ft elevation gain, Moderate to Difficult, Wetterhorn Peak Quad.

Thirteeners

  • Matterhorn Peak (13,590 feet) Trailhead: Matterhorn Creek Trailhead, 6 mi. roundtrip, Moderate, Uncompahgre Peak Quad.
  • Coxcomb Peak (13,656 feet) Trailhead: Matterhorn Creek Trailhead, 9 mi. roundtrip, Moderate, Wetterhorn Peak Quad.
  • Wildhorse (13,266 feet) Trailhead: American Flats Trailhead, 6 mi. roundtrip, Wetterhorn Peak Quad.
  • Bent Peak (13,393 feet) Trailhead: Carson (Wager Gulch) Road – 1 mi. past Carson, 2 mi. roundtrip, Finger Mesa Quad.
  • Carson Peak (13,657 feet) Trailhead: Carson (Wager Gulch) Road - 3.5 mi. past Carson, 5 mi. roundtrip, Pole Creek Mt. Quad.
  • Half Peak (13,841 feet) Trailhead: Cataract Gulch Trailhead, 7 mi. roundtrip, Pole Creek Mt. Quad.
  • White Cross Mountain (13,542 feet)  Trailhead: Grizzly Gulch Trailhead, 7 mi. roundtrip, Redcloud Peak Quad.

Walking, Hiking, Backpacking & Horseback Riding

One of the benefits of being in the most remote county in the lower 48 with 96 percent public lands is that it takes only a few miles by foot or hoof and minutes by bicycle to leave civilization behind. Hinsdale County offers seemingly endless miles of trails, 19 public campgrounds, five fourteeners, and over 20 thirteeners. Hikers and backpackers have a vast amount of options in three National Forests, one BLM district, four national wilderness areas, and two wilderness study areas, all of which have several access points within miles of Lake City.  Hinsdale County does not limit itself to just hikers.  There are trails open to horses and mountain bikes in addition to hikers. 

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Note: Trail maps are available at the Visitor Center and a number of local stores. Please remember to stay on marked trails and that mountain bikes are not allowed in wilderness areas.  

Hiking & Backpacking Trails

Maps of these trails are available at the Visitor Center and at area stores. Most links take you to the BLM or Forest Service website (or another external source) with additional information and maps. 

lake city hiking

Easy to Moderate Trails 

  • Big Blue Creek  Length: 12 miles. Season of use: June through October. Amount of Use: Light horse use; light hiking. Total Elevation Gain: 1,800 ft. 
  • Powderhorn Lakes  Length: 4 miles to Lower Powderhorn Lake; 4.5 miles to Upper Powderhorn Lake. Season of use: Mid-June through October. Amount of Use: light hiking, backpacking, and horse use. Total Elevation Gain: 660 ft.
  • Powderhorn Park  Length: 6.3 miles to Robbers Roost. Season of use: Mid-June through October. Amount of Use: Light hiking and horse use, moderate during hunting season. Total Elevation Gain: 1,730 ft.
  • Ski Hill to Lake Trail  Length: 1.6 miles. Season of use: Mid-June through October. Amount of Use: Light hiking. Total Elevation Gain: 800 ft.
  • Weminuche Pass to Continental Divide  Length: 4.5 miles.  Season of use: Mid-June through October.  Amount of Use: Light hiking and horse use, moderate during hunting season.  Total Elevation Gain: 1,900 ft.

HikersModerate to Difficult Trails 

  • American Basin to Handies Peak (14,048’)  Length: From the Trailhead it is 1.3 miles to Sloan Lake; 1 mile further to Handies Peak. Add another .9 mile if you start walking from the Alpine Loop Turnoff. Season of use: July through October. Amount of Use: Moderate hiking; moderate jeep/ATV traffic along the road to the trailhead. Total Elevation Gain: 2,448 ft.  
  • Camp Trail   Length: 5 miles to the Continental Divide. Season of use: July through October. Amount of Use: Light horse use; moderate hiking. Total Elevation Gain: 2,600 ft. 
  • Canon Infierno  Length: 6 miles. Season of use: July through October. Amount of Use: Light horse use; light hiking. Total Elevation Gain: 1,780 ft. 
  • Cataract Gulch  Length: 4.1 miles to the Continental Divide. Season of use: July through October. Amount of Use: Moderate hiking. Total Elevation Gain: 2,570 ft. 
  • Cooper Creek   Length: 3.7 miles to Cooper Lake. Season of use: July through October. Amount of Use: Light hiking. Total Elevation Gain: 2,190 ft. 
  • Cottonwood Creek  Length: 4.1 miles to switchback; trail continues for about 2 more miles. Season of use: June through October.  Amount of Use: Light jeep/ATV traffic, light walking, mountain biking. Total Elevation Gain: 1,370 ft. to switchback; 3,000 ft. to Upper Snare Basin.
  • Crystal Lake   Length: 4 miles to Crystal Lake. Season of use: July through October. Amount of Use: Light horse use; light hiking. Total Elevation Gain: 3,000 ft.
  • Cuba Gulch  Length: 3.25 miles to the Continental Divide. Season of use: June through October.  Amount of Use: Light horse use; light hiking.  Total Elevation Gain: 2,020 ft.
  • Devil’s Creek  Length: 6.8 miles to Devil’s Lake.  Season of use: Mid-June through October.  Amount of Use: Light hiking/horse use; moderate during hunting season.  Total Elevation Gain: 3,520 ft. 
  • Independence Gulch Trail   Length: 2.25 miles to Little Elk Trail. Season of use: July through October. Amount of Use: Light horse use; light hiking. Total Elevation Gain: 1,700 ft. 
  • Larson Lakes   Length: 4.75 miles. Season of use: July through October. Amount of Use: Light horse use; light hiking. Total Elevation Gain: 2,200 ft.
  • Round Top Road  Length: 5 miles. Season of use: July through October. Amount of Use: Light horse use; light hiking, moderate jeep/ATV traffic. Total Elevation Gain: 2,800 ft.
  • Waterdog Lake  Length: 3.8 miles to Waterdog Lake.  Season of use: Mid-June through October.  Amount of Use: Light hiking, horseback, and mountain biking.  Total Elevation Gain: 2,500 ft. 

hike grizzly gulchDifficult Trails 

  • Alpine Gulch  Length: 6 miles. Season of use: July through October. Amount of Use: Light horse use; moderate hiking. Total Elevation Gain: 3,480 ft. 
  • Alpine Loop Length: 54 miles. Season of use: July through October. Amount of Use: Heavy jeep/ATV traffic, light horse use, light hiking. Total Elevation Gain: 4,000 ft. 
  • Cannibal Plateau Length: 3 miles to Meso Seco. Season of use: July through October. Amount of Use: Light horse use; light hiking; light ATV traffic. Total Elevation Gain: 1,400 ft.
  • Grizzly Gulch to Handies Peak (14,048’)  Length: 4.2 miles to Handies Peak. Season of use: July through October. Amount of Use: Moderate hiking; light horseback. Total Elevation Gain: 3,623 ft. 
  • Matterhorn Basin to Wetterhorn Peak (14,015’)  Length: 3.5 miles. Season of use: July through October. Amount of Use: Light horse use; light to moderate hiking. Total Elevation Gain: 3,300 ft.
  • Matterhorn Creek to Matterhorn Peak (13,590’)  Length: 3.3 miles. Season of use: July through October. Amount of Use: Light hiking. Total Elevation Gain: 2,790 ft.
  • Nellie Creek to Uncompahgre Peak (14,309’)  Length: 3.75 miles. Season of use: July through October. Amount of Use: Light horse use; Moderate hiking. Total Elevation Gain: 3,000 ft.
  • Silver Creek to Redcloud Peak (14,034’) & Sunshine Peak (14,001’)   Length: 5.7 miles to Sunshine Peak. Season of use: July through October. Amount of Use: Moderate hiking. Total Elevation Gain: 3,609 ft.
  • Stewart Creek to San Luis Peak (14,014’)  Length: 6 miles. Season of use: July through October. Amount of Use: Light horse use; light hiking. Total Elevation Gain: 3,600 ft.  
  • Wager Gulch  Length: 3.4 miles to Carson town site; 4.8 miles to the Continental Divide.  Season of use: July through October.  Amount of Use: Moderate jeep/ATV use, light hiking, mountain biking. Total Elevation Gain: 3,100 ft.
  • Williams Creek  Length: 7.5 miles. Season of use: June through October.  Amount of Use: Light horse use; light hiking Total Elevation Gain: 3,295 ft.

DougOldgraygoatMitchellAdditional links for hiking information

www.14ers.com - includes photos and regular blog updates from hikers

Things to Do in Lake City and Hinsdale County

  • Historic Attractions
    Explore the well-preserved history in our National Historic District, at our County Museum, and along the Silver Thread and Alpine Loop Byways
  • Scenic Drives & Byways

    Looking for spectacular views from your Car, Jeep or ATV? Find ghost towns - natural wonders - thrilling shows of wildflowers - historic sites - high mountain passes.

    For official Hinsdale County OHV rule and regulations please go to: http://hinsdalecountysheriff.com/Laws___Regulations.php

  • Walking, Hiking & Horseback Riding
    It takes only moments to hit a trail and leave civilization behind. Walking - Hiking - Horseback Riding - Backpacking
  • Seasons in Lake City

    Visit year-round and discover seasons as dramatic as our vistas!

  • Itineraries

    Hours, days, weeks, months...mix and match your want-to-do’s with your time-to-do's

  • Natural Wonders

    From sparkling waterfalls, varied wildlife and vast wilderness areas, Hindsdale County offers up an array of Natural Wonders

  • Fishing
    Stream and Lake Fishing in the area draws anglers back year after year, as faithfully as brook trout are drawn to dry flies.
  • Mountain Biking & Cycling
    A tremendous range of experiences - In-town trails for the family - Peaceful intermediate rides on trails and jeep roads - epic courses along the Alpine Loop and Continental Divide
  • Hunting

    With 96% public lands, area hunters are likely to have high harvest rates, quality animals, and a great overall experience!

  • Kid Friendly

    Make Lake City a beloved part of your family history.

  • Winter
    Covered under a blanket of white for four months, Hinsdale County is a winter playground for all.
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Visitor Center Info

970.944.2527  •  info@lakecity.com

Lake City/Hinsdale County Visitor Center
800 Gunnison Avenue
PO Box 430
Lake City, CO 81235
 
Hours:
Monday - Saturday, 9am-3pm
 
 
 
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