17) Ptarmigan Lake Basin Trailhead
is located on the eastern side of Cottonwood Pass (Continental
Divide), approximately 5 miles from the top, and is well marked on
this paved road.
Difficulty: Moderate to strenuous. (Elevation 10677'-12110', round trip distance= 6 miles)
Trail Head, north end: 38.80334N,-106.37503W
The trailhead entrance allows parking for about 10 vehicles with overflow parking along side the entry road. This area contains a primitive toilet.
A jeep road parallels the pack
trail for some 2 miles to the east , and it eventually intersects the
pack trial, but this
The pack trail is up hill and tree covered for most of the way. There are a couple of short, open areas which are essentially rough and talus covered. The first 1.5 miles are strenuous with an average elevation gain of 11%. This section of the trail is relatively smooth with a small amount of roots and bare rock to navigate. The remaining mile, to the suggested camping area, is moderate with a gain of 9%. Here the trail becomes much rougher with large rock outcroppings and roots. Overall gain is 10%. Elevation at the campsite is 11800'. The jeep trail intersects the pack trail at about the 1.5 mile point and is a good area for a rest stop. Water is available at a few points along the trail where small streams cross over or run along side. (Always filter water for drinking!)
Lower Ptarmigan Basin
As you approach the suggested camping area (waypoint 38'47'02ºN-106'22"51ºW), the trees open up to a beautiful meadow basin complete with a small lake and several smaller ponds. There are many campsites in this area with the best (IMHO) located at the above listed coordinates. The nearly constant breeze (sometimes heavy wind) coming down from the ridges above help to keep the insects away. The insect problem was very minimal. The temperature during the day was into the mid-50's and, with the wind chill factor, was in the range of very pleasant to just a little chilly. Rainfall was minimal, though the weather can be extreme with heavy wind, hail and lightening. I would not recommend camping at the upper Ptarmigan Lake basin because of these possible conditions. The lake is an easy ½ mile hike above the suggested campsites.
Our visit took place over the 4th of July weekend and the wildflowers were nearly at their peak. On a previous visit, we were able to observe Bighorn Sheep on the high ridges, but not this time.
All in all, this was a fine pack trip into a beautiful area with expansive views and with good weather. There were 2 young men in our group who were successful in catching trout in the small lake that was located close to our camp. This added to our enjoyment of the area.
To view an album of photos from
this backpack trip,
18) Bull Creek Loop Located on the west slope, atop the Grand Mesa. (Map name: Grand Mesa, CO)
Difficulty: Moderate (elevation: 10044'-10414', roundtrip distance= 10 miles)
Trail Head: 39.06252N,-108.04187W
Turn off highway 65 at the hairpin turn onto the dirt road #250. Drive to the end of this road, about 1 mile, to the trailhead.
As indicated, this is a loop trail of nearly 10 miles in length or you may hike any portion of your choice. At my present rate of travel, this will most likely be a 3 to 4 day affair, round trip. The loop will take you past 10 lakes.
The maximum elevation on the loop will be 10,414'. Elevation at the trailhead is 10,044'. Minimum elevation will be 9,627'. Average grade is 5%. Other than the distance traveled, this is an easy hike, considering the terrain. Most of the trail will be under cover of trees. This hike would probably be best taken in the fall or early summer, just after snow melt, due to the probability of mosquito infestation. I have hiked a portion of the loop in the fall and there were no bugs. Again, be aware of the possibility of severe afternoon thunderstorms. I have not fished any of the lakes in this area.
19) Rocky Mountain National Park: Bear Lake to Hollowell Park
Trail Head, Bear
Lake: 40.31359N,-105.64690W Trail Head,
Hallowell Park: 40.34150N,-105.60535w
Difficulty: Easy (Yes Easy!) (Elevation
@ TH 9488'- high point 9749'- avg. grade 9%---90% of this down hill-
4 miles total makes this a fine day hike on a mostly tree covered trail)
A reminder that I shall be happy to send GPS waypoints to you upon request, for any trip listed.