|The hard way to Sand Peak|
|Colorado River Road|
|Orb on Sand Peak|
- FLAT TOP MOUNTAIN el 12354 is an easy one. The standard route is trail #1122 from the end of the road el 10250 at Stillwater Reservoir. It goes to the west saddle el 11200 then it's a tundra walk. 5 hours, 2200 gain, 9 miles, not steep. DOME MOUNTAIN el 12227- a one way hike can be done by going over Flat Top and along the rim then down to the Sunnyside Trail #1861. It's an easy tundra walk (and one of the greatest )to Dome Mtn. A 1911 marker is along the way at N40 00181, W107 04053. Then comes a class 2 descent to the SE saddle. It's an easy side trip up to Dome Peak el 12172. From the saddle, I went down the drainage toward the trail but that's a bad route. I was lucky to find a descent route but it's bound to be way better to go east out of the saddle and down a tundra ridge running down the east side of Dome Peak. I could see it from the summit but the drainage looked OK too but it wasn't. I hit the trail at N39 59625, W107 02297 el 10800. The trail runs like the FS topo shows but I missed a fork at around el 10200 and had to cross a clearing to get back to the trail that leads to the Sunnyside TH. I had my folding bike stashed there and coasted down past Gardner Park to FR900. It took 7 hours to go the 11 miles from TH to TH then an hour to go 5 miles on the bike. The 200 feet up Dome Peak is the only noticeable gain once past Flat Top and it's optional. I could skip the bike shuttle and hike the whole 16 miles in under 9 hours now that I know where I goofed. The best road in to the Sunnyside TH is county 3 at mp 38.5 just south of Yampa. It turns to 4wd but easy late in the season when mudholes are dry. The same goes for FR910 that connects to FR900 by way of Gardner Park. That road is a little rougher. The FS topo shows all this. Posted August, 2023.
- DERBY PEAK el 12186 - a counterclockwise loop can be done from Stillwater TH, not to be reversed. I walked the trail past Mosquito Lake to the plateau then south on trail #1803. I left it at N39 58927, W107 09965 and followed tundra to the long west ridge. I went to a game trail at 58292, 08208 that goes up to the right to tundra. I could soon switch back left on tundra then top out on the summit plateau. I went over the summit then to 58525, 07370 left of center where it was easy to walk down the ridge then north along the rim to a gap at 59522, 07656. I went thru then down a drainage to a lake. The best route (but I didn't try the center) is along the right side of the lake to the rim then some tall brush gets in the way. But there is only 50 feet or so of it to get to a clearing at 59760, 07589 where there is a game trail running down thru the cliff band. It turns south and levels off then splits. I stayed on the lower one and it soon goes straight down on soft dirt. At bottom I walked to a game trail at 59821, 07381 on the west side of Hooper Lake then crossed some bushes at 59867, 07304. Then I just took an easy angle up to hit trail #1860 to get back. 8 hours, about 2000 gain, not steep, 14 miles. The descent route is class 2 but snow will linger. Posted August, 2023.
- DEVILS CAUSEWAY el 11800 is the most popular hike I took. It's a narrow ridge that shrinks down to 4 feet wide. A good loop starts at the end of the road el 10250 at Stillwater Reservoir and follows trail #1120 past Mosquito Lake then up to the plateau and joins trail #1803. And that trail is accurately shown on the regular topo but not the FS topo. It goes on over the Causeway then back down the start. 5 hours, 1600 gain, 10 and a half miles. Reversing this would mean steeper uphill hiking. Posted 2023.
- THE SLIDE el 10200 is a feature nearly 7 miles north of Tonopas. Cars can go north from town on gravel FR285 for nearly 6 miles to a camp spot then ebike the rest. A display is set up at the rim. ATVs and ebikes can go SE from there on 2F to hike Green Ridge el 10555 but it has a lousy view. I would just ebike from Tonopas. These roads are on the topo. Posted 2023.
- COLORADO RIVER ROAD connects highway 131 for 35 miles to Dotsero. The lower half is paved and the upper half is graded and treated to supress dust. There are pullouts to spend the night. One at mp 19 has a restroom. A tiny free campground is at mp 4. No Verizon signal. There is a bike path along I-70 connecting Dotsero to Gypsum. A BLM campground is just west of Gypsum. Sunny but cheap. Posted 2023.
- DERBY MESA LOOP is a 16 mile graded road that starts near the Burns post office and comes back down a mile from the post office. It tops out in about 7 miles where there is sign for a 4wd road going to trails 1858 and 1860. In another couple miles the 4wd road for Crescent Lake branches off and has a lot of camping space there. That road goes nearly 12 miles to the lake. The last mile and a half is for rock crawling jeeps. Stock jeeps and SUVs were making it to Emerald Lake. With an ebike I would start on the southern leg of the mesa loop and see if I could make it to the apex and coast down. Posted 2023.
- RED DIRT CREEK - at mp 15.3 on the river road is a high clearance road up along the creek. In a fifth mile it forks. Left goes to Poison Creek. Right goes up along Red Dirt Creek past off grid houses, one was ransacked including modern vehicles. A bogus sign says it's a private road but I had a public road for 3 miles to the forest boundary. Then it's a trail on a closed road. This is good for cycles and ebikes. Posted 2023.
- BLOWOUT HILL el 8687 has a 4wd road to the summit. At mp 11.6 on the river road is a good road going up Trail Gulch. In 4 miles turn right on easy 4wd and follow the topo. A few ruts are a challenge. Two wheelers work well because rocks are few. Total mileage one way from pavement is 9.5. The road goes on to Dotsero Crater but I used an easy 4wd road from I-70 frontage road to get to that. Next time I'll try going straight thru. Posted 2023.
- W MOUNTAIN el 11890 can be done as a long but easy loop from Sweetwater Lake. The road in leaves the river road at mp 6.9. I parked near the end el 7800 below the Hilltop Ranch then rode my bike back to the lake and walked up trail #2032. Soon there is a shortcut trail going left. It soon rejoins the main trail. At el 9600 there is a roaring stream coming down from the springs just below Hack Lake. I didn't filter that and had no more running water until a fork of Turret Creek. I followed the trails on the topo to the tundra then walked to a post at N39 50696, W107 08409 el 11200. I weaved bushes there then on to more bushes where an elk trail goes thru at 51006, 08472. That got me to the summit plateau and I strolled on to a cairn at 52472, 08256 with a broken jar and no book. I kept going on the tundra then dropped on the edge of talus at 53031, 09489. In a tenth mile it leveled off and I cut right to get down to a huge flat. A pond there had something that looked like large tadpoles. I walked on to the south side of peak 11531 where an elk trail goes down but I didn't see it until 52913, 10492. It's better to find it sooner to avoid ultra steep dirt slopes. I stayed straight on it then it leveled off to the right to 53041, 10586 then it drops into the forest. There are many ways thru the forest. Here's what I did. I went to a clearing at 53127, 10659 then to a stream at 53246, 10749 where I stood on a boulder and could see that I could push thru bushes for 50 feet to get across the stream. I went on across a clearing at 53235, 10838 then to 53258, 10998 and along a meadow at 53266, 11113. Then I had only 450 feet more to hit the Turret Creek Trail just above the falls. I had one wade on that near the end of the hike. 10 hours, 22 minutes. The app has the mileage at 20 and gain at 4500 but all easy grades. The trails need long pants due to weeds hanging over. The off trail part I could have done in shorts. Mosquitoes were long gone and deadfall was not an issue. Posted August 29, 2023.
- HUNNS PEAK el 11235 is an easy tundra walk but a long drive. At about mp 1.7 on the river road is where the Coffee Pot Road (FR600) starts and goes 29 miles to Deep Lake. Cars make it that far but bumpy in places. Before the lake there is turnoff for Bison Lake. I followed the topo for 4 miles and parked where FR644 branches off then walked over peak 11128 to get to Hunns. It has a BM on a one foot pedestal and two dates stamped on it. That last 4 miles of road turns to 4wd but is ebikeable. Lots of dispersed camping along the 29 miles in and I had a Verizon signal until about halfway where the Deep Creek overlook road forks to the right. Posted 2023.
- FLAGPOLE MOUNTAIN el 10607 - FR801 can be used to make a loop over the mountain. From Silt I followed county 311 to FR801 going up Divide Creek. A car could make it 10 miles up that to camp spots then the remaining 10 miles is easy 4wd when dry. Ebikes are a possibility since rocks are few and it's hard packed, just a bunch of ruts. The road tops out at el 10400 and it's a short walk to the summit and there is a flag with a solar light. I rode on down the western leg of FR801 which is decent gravel with a couple of spots that might need 4wd if ascending. A lot of camps along that road have a Verizon signal. This is all on the FS topo and sat image. Posted 2023.
- EAST ELK CREEK has a maintained trail running down it, #1841. It can be walked from the lower TH for 4 miles to a waterfall in the Spring Creek fork at el 8200. The upper TH is where the topo shows it but it hits the creek at the 9400 line, not 9600. The road to that, FR603, is the craziest. It's good one lane and OHVs not allowed. FR652 is the one to the TH and easy 4wd, when dry, for nearly 3 miles. I walked down from there to Spring Creek then up that trail but it fades at el 9200. No brush beyond there but a lot of tall grass and it better be dry (it wasn't). I went up the left fork staying high on the left bank to el 10400 where I could go straight up to a faint road on the rim. I then circled west of peak 10940 on elk trails back to the road but that's over 16 miles. It would be a lot shorter to walk the old road past peak 10942 then down to the trail. I would try that plan if backpacking in from the lower TH and setting up base camp at the main fork el 8000. I saw spots there. Another option would be a one way hike from the top down. It would be a dozen miles if starting at the beginning of FR652 but a lot of time shuttling. A third option would be to go up the Hadley Gulch trail then down the East Elk trail, IF it's still there. I measured that trail on my laptop as 7 miles up to the #1841 upper TH by way of FR651 for a total hike of 16 miles. All the roads are ebikeable but how many batteries? Posted Sept, 2023.
- BUFORD ROAD - that's the main graded road, FR245, connecting New Castle to Buford, not open to OHVs. The spur road to Meadow Lake is also good but everything else is crap. Lots of dispersed camping. Posted 2023.
- BLAIR MOUNTAIN el 11440 has a jeep road over it. I made a 70 mile loop on my DRZ 125. Cars can make it to Meadow Lake from New Castle or Buford. 2 miles before the lake is sign for Blair. FR601 goes 9 miles to it. It's easy 4wd until el 11000 where there is a short section of minor steps. Stock jeeps have no trouble going on to the summit. Ebikes should be able to get close. I saw bike tracks along there. South of Limestone BM is where the trouble starts and strictly for seasoned drivers. It's steep rubble the size of footballs going down below 11000 then FR651 is the one I took to get back up to 11000 ( I had to walk the bike up the last 50 feet ) then down to FR603 which is a good road. It has a million switchbacks down to pavement. That took 6 and a half hours. Next time I'll just go to the summit and make a U-turn. That's pretty easy. Posted 2023.
- RIFLE MOUNTAIN PARK - highway 325 goes north from town then pavement ends at the park in a gorge. It's a good bike ride 5 miles up thru the gorge onto national forest land where there is a main fork. Left goes shortly to a guest ranch then it's endless mudholes and ruts to the plateau. The right fork is tedious embedded little rocks for 5 miles to the Buford road on the plateau. Be smart and make a U-turn. Camping was $10 per vehicle in the gorge. Nice creek in there. Not much to do unless you're a climber. They need to put a cell tower on the rim. Posted 2023.
- GRAND HOGBACK ROAD- that's a paved road then good dirt road running on the north side of the Hogback connecting New Castle to Meeker. I rode it to Meeker then back on the Buford road for a 100 mile loop. Posted 2023.
- NORTH MAMM PEAK el 11123 has a good trail most of the way out of Beaver Creek. A paved then graded road goes to the TH el 8650 out of Rifle. Signs point the way. It's a smooth trail with soft plants hanging over and they bettter be dry. At el 10500 I left the trail and walked tundra along the north side. I hit a cow trail that topped out at el 10750 then stayed low along some ponds until I ran out of tundra. I angled up thru talus to a steep dirt chute on the north side of the summit then up. 6 hours, 2600 gain, 12 miles. No camping at the TH or along the road from Rifle but you could walk the first tenth mile on the trail and camp at the creek. I put a track on peakbagger. Posted 2023.
- ROAN CLIFFS HIGH POINT el 9286 has an easy 4wd road the whole way and it's maintained to stay that way. County 244 leaves Rifle at Fravert Reservoir and meets county 242 at a T and that goes on up switchbacks to the rim. The public road goes on past Gardner BM to a locked gate at point 8636. Going north on the rim likely has a public route out but I only went 3 miles. Good camping along the rim. Posted 2023.
- SLEEPY CAT PEAK el 10848 is out by itself. The least bad road from the south is FR250 from Lake Avery. It's not worth driving that unless with an OHV. I didn't check the road in from Yellowjacket Pass. I easily rode my 125 to the OHV trail going up the south ridge. I parked at el 10050 where it turns bad. I walked to the end then an old trail goes up the ridge. I walked that a short way until I was 250 feet from a game trail on the right at N40 07279, W107 32277. I walked that then went up steep at 07395, 32056 and topped out to the right of a minor bump. I strolled on up the ridge to the summit. Junk up there is likely remnants of a fire lookout. The summit was cleared to improve the view. 2 hours, 800 gain. I kept riding east thru Lost Park and Long Park then up FR230 and down the east leg of it to county 8. Countless mudholes were dry or skirtable. There are a lot of gorgeous meadows and no cattle. These roads are good for two wheelers but a 125 is as heavy a cycle I care to ride. Heavy cycles are tricky to balance between deep ruts and hard to drag out of quagmires. FR250 may get bladed some day. Sheepherders use it. Posted July, 2023.
- MARVINE CREEK TH - I didn't hike there but I saw a million horses at the TH. That would be some stinky hiking. Outfitters take tourists up there. Posted 2023.
- SAND PEAK, PAGODA PEAK - these two have an ATV trail running along the south side from Ripple Creek Pass. I tried to ride in that way but too swampy for a two wheeler. So I went down to mp 35.6 and took the Deadhorse Loop Road which is FR230. It's easy for two wheelers and jeeps. At el 10400 the ATV trail branches off and was able to ride to Sand Peak and stroll up that. Snow blocked me from riding on to Pagoda. I kept going on FR230 to Long Park then down to county 8 but that last bit is ultra steep. The ATV trail is closed to motorized vehicles every Sept 1. That would be the time to try a mtn bike from the pass then down FR230 to mp 35.6. Posted July, 2023.
- TRAPPERS PEAK el 12002 has an easy route up from Wall Lake. I followed the Wall Lake trail from Trappers Lake then when I got to Wall Lake I left the trail when I was 190 feet from a clearing which is at N39 56938, W107 14659. I went on to the edge of a meadow at 56873, 14677 then a game trail climbs out of the meadow at 56763, 14733 and heads toward the east saddle. It's obvious from there to the saddle then up the ridge. I retraced back and took a trip to Flander Benchmark. A craggy ridge is just before that peak. An elk trail goes around the far right edge of it then it's clear to come back to center then there is a tenth mile of light brush to get at the summit. I returned to the trail and went west to the Big Fish trail. I crossed a bog to get at it but should walked the bank of the stream and avoided crossing. It goes down like the topo shows then just before Florence Lake there is junction with the newer Himes trail at 58752, 17083 el 9850. That trail is what I took back to the start but it gains 500 feet so an easier option would be to stay on the Big Fish trail down to the Himes Campground with a second vehicle waiting. 10 hours, 13 minutes and about 3000 noticeable gain. The app has it at nearly 19 miles. Just doing the peaks and returning down the Wall Lake trail would be a lot shorter but not as good as a loop. Or skip Flander and do the loop. Posted July 11, 2023.
- BIG MARVINE PEAK el 11879 is the easternmost major peak in the wilderness. A spotty trail goes up it. I started at Trappers Lake on the Wall Lake Trail el 9750 and followed the topo to the junction with the East Marvine Trail just past Twin Lakes. That trail is just a string of cairns on tundra. At N39 57269, W107 18994 is where the trail to the peak branches off, also marked by cairns. It has light brush but a more open route is at 57442, 18986 though slightly longer. Both lead to a cairn at 57322, 19334 and the trail is obvious from there. 8 and a half hours, 18 miles, with 1300 gain to get on the pleateau then 800 on the final trail to the summit. Including Plateau Benchmark would add 4 miles. I saw no loop possibilities but a one way down to the Marvine TH would be feasible. Posted July, 2023.
- LOST BENCHMARK el 11928 is north of Trappers Lake. A long loop can be done. I parked at the Trappers Lake TH then coasted down on my bike to the Skinny Fish TH. I walked up the good trail 1812 to el 10900 where there is a sign for a shortcut trail. That's steep so I stayed north a little more then cut up to trail 1803 then on up to the peak. The trail gets faint on the tundra but not needed anyway. I went on and shortcutted along the west side of peak 11723 then near peak 11582 I was on a heavy use trail. I walked it down to the Trappers TH. 8 hours, 20 minutes, 17 miles, and about 3000 gain. This could be reversed with a motorized shuttle but trail 1812 is so easy and smooth that it's not a big deal. Having the cold wind at your back on the tundra is a bigger concern. Posted 2023.
- HIMES PEAK TRAIL - a one way hike idea is to take that trail just past Florence Lake then go down the trail along Big Fish Creek to a second vehicle at the Himes Campround. I can't speak to the whole route but the Himes trail was clear. Make sure the river bridge hasn't washed out. An ebike would work well for a shuttle but with a pedal bike I would reverse it. Posted 2023.
- LILY POND TRAIL - this is an easy one way by starting near Ripple Creek Pass and walking the divide trail then down the Lily Pond Trail. It just so happens I was camped at the lower TH on county 8 at mp 39.1. I rode my cycle to the upper TH at mp 44.2 then followed the topo. There are two gushing springs reading N40 04615, W107 15161 at a large meadow near the junction of the two trails. I barely stayed dry crossing that meadow to get on the descent trail. The pond is aptly named. 3 and a half hours, hardly any strenuous gain, 8 miles. Nice meadows. This is a good wuss hike. Sandals would be handy for the soggy meadow and a wade near the lower TH. Ebikes work for the shuttle. Posted 2023.
- DUNCKLEY FLAT TOPS el 10270 is a good traverse. I left my cycle at a cattleguard on county 8 at mp 58.7. Then drove on to Dunckley Pass el 9763 and parked. A road starts up from the pass then a steep hiker trail goes on from the end of it to the plateau. To do the high point aim for a clearing on the right edge at N40 12343, W107 09713 then follow the topo. From there I weaved east into a clearing and walked to an old road at 12745, 10385 and walked it along the rim. I dropped off at 13825, 12512 then down to a long clearing at 13710, 12634 and down that to another clearing at 13225, 12583. But nope, that clearing was too soggy. I should have stayed right of it directly to 13192, 12659 where I weaved to anyway then down to the road a few feet up from the cattleguard. The last quarter mile has deep, soft plants. Easy to walk thru but slow because I couldn't see where I was stepping. 3 hours, 400 strenuous gain, 5.6 miles. Next time I'll skip the high point and just walk the south rim. The high point has no view. Ebikes work for the shuttle. A longer hike would be to find a way down to the Gill Reservoir trail. That trail goes to county 8 at mp 58.1. Posted July, 2023.
- PYRAMID PEAK el 11532 has a trail up from Sheriff Reservoir. Trail #1117 goes up to the divide then leave it and walk south around a bump then up the ridge. I tried the north side of the bump but too rocky. 4 hours, 2000 gain. Posted 2023.
- TROUT CREEK has a forgotten trail from Sheriff Reservoir to el 10200. I made a loop up Sand Creek then down Trout. The Sand Creek trail starts out across the dam. There is a tricky signed fork near Crater Lake but the correct trail is left toward Sand Lake. I got off the trail at N40 07833, W107 06429 el 10600 and easily crossed to the far bank of Sand Creek. I went upstream a tenth mile then right on easy tundra and entered a forest at 07698, 06711 el 10700. I weaved thru that to a clearing on the divide at 07568, 07148 el 10800, just north of peak 11005. I followed an elk trail down to the end of the clearing then it switched back sharp left and I went down to 07490, 07310. Then I went straight down on deadfall for a few feet then cut right to a boggy clearing. I stayed on the right edge of it to 07492, 07386 then straight down in a drainage to Trout Creek. I went down the bank a few feet to a clearing at 07461, 07626 and soon the trail appeared. It does veer away from the creek to 07954, 07988 then on to the inlet of the reservoir where a log saved me a wade. That took 3 hours, 36 minutes for 7 miles but I never rested because it's so easy. There is 1100 easy gain. I barely stayed dry so late season is best when bogs are few. There is a lot of deadfall on the route between the creeks but most of it I could weave or step over. Posted July 27, 2023.
- ORNO PEAK el 12133 has a forgotten trail up the north side from Sheriff Reservoir el 9700. I made a loop up it then down trail #1117 near Pyramid Peak. The Sand Creek trail starts out across the dam. There is a tricky signed fork near Crater Lake but the correct trail is left toward Sand Lake. It tops out in a clearing and fades. It goes to the right across a drainage and I used game trails at N40 07120, W107 06213 to weave thru light brush to get to the trail again at 06989, 06136. It goes along the left bank on tundra and crosses to the right at 06799, 05967. The trail tops out at 11050 then I turned east on the trail shown on the topo. I could see it better at 06130, 05392 and walked it to a saddle el 11250 then turned left on a trail on the edge of tundra. I walked it along the east side of peak 11378 then on to 05192, 05551 el 11400 on the south side of peak 11515. It goes west into a saddle el 11450 then up the ridge and then angles up to the right to the summit ridge west of the peak. 100 elk were standing on the trail just before topping out. They know a good hike when they see one. I went to the peak then came back and walked the rim to peak 12027 and then a little more to a good view at the end of travel on the rim. I then dropped to the left on steep tundra to an elk trail at 05522, 08256 el 11200. I walked it to 05745, 08521 el 11000 then 05878, 08600 el 11100 then to 05938, 08667 el 11050. I had an easy forest on to a clearing at 06061, 08736 el 11050 then down that to an elk trail at 06163,08838 el 10950. I could then easily walk NW just below the 11000 line to trail #1117 at 06916, 09249 el 11000. A quarter mile before the trail is a good stream that has to be rising out of the ground not far uphill. The trail is easy to follow back to the start. 8 and a half hours, 16 miles. The gain to the summit is 2500 and hardly any is steep. There is some minor gain cutting over to the descent trail. Be sure to have the track I put on peakbagger. This is the best hike I did around this area. Posted July 23, 2023.
- SAND POINT el 11182 has a good gravel road up from Chapman Reservoir to el 10000. A bumpy 4wd goes on another mile to el 10300. Ebikes should work and maybe beyond because there was no sign at the closure about it. It's not in the wilderness. The closed road goes on the where Middle Hunt Creek is coming down and that would be shortcut but I stayed on the road to the top. Right away a trail forks right to Killarney Reservoir. After a short way on that it's easy to veer right to the rim and walk it to the summit. On the return I retraced back on the rim to Middle Hunt Creek and walked the left rim of it down to the trail. 4 hours, 900 easy gain. Posted 2023.
- CROSHO LAKE has a narrow high clearance road to it. It would make a good ebike ride but other than that it's for fishermen. Posted 2023.