Grand County Trail of the Week
Activity – Backcountry Ski or Snowshoe
Level of Difficulty – 2 (on a scale of 1-5, 1 being the easiest)
One-way Mileage – 1.07 miles
One-way Touring Time – 1 1/2 hours
Altitude, GPS Reading at Trailhead – 9769′, 39°49’38″N, 105°45’31″W
Altitude, GPS Reading at Second Meadow – 10,281′, 39°48’52″N, 105°46’05″W
Trail Fee Required – No
Dogs are permitted without leash
James Peak Wilderness Area Regulations Apply – See USDA Sulphur Ranger District regarding large groups.
Trailhead Location – On US Hwy 40, south of the town of Winter Park at the first switchback from town, between mile markers 236 and 237 is a large pullout inside the bend. Park here. Cross the highway, south of the parking area. The Fraser River runs through a culvert under the highway and the trail is to the left (east) of this culvert (1).
Tour Description – This trail was once a logging road and is still distinct for most of the tour. Follow the river south upstream through the forest where the spruce trees are generally heavily laden with snow. Gently ascend and cross several creek beds, including the Fraser River (which is only a small snow covered creek at this location). Climb gently and steady. When the forest becomes dense, continue to head south to a meadow. At the north edge of the meadow, there is a small fallen-in cabin (2) on the right. In the center of the meadow (3) US Hwy 40 is visible above on the right (west). Straight ahead (south-west) is the west side of the Berthoud Pass Ski Area. To the left (south-east) is the side of Colorado Mines Peak and behind (north-east) is the top of Parry Peak. From the center of the meadow, look about 50 yards to the left (east). Nestled in the trees is a teepee frame (3A) across the Fraser River. One hundred yards to the right (west) is the original Berthoud Pass wagon road, which crossed over the Continental Divide at Berthoud Pass and continued into Middle Park.
Continue through the meadow and into the woods to a second meadow (4). From the center of this meadow looking east-north-east is a view of Mt. Eva, with a building on top. From the far end of this meadow is another good view of Parry Peak to the north-east.
This is a good turn-around for a moderate tour.
The trail continues for another mile beyond the meadow, up a steep snow covered waterfall to a clearing, then into the woods eventually ending at US Hwy 40.
Backcountry Tip of the Week – Downhill skiers (alpine, telemark, backcountry, snowboard) have the right-of-way. This trail is occasionally used by all of these. Please move to the side of the trail when stopping or to allow these skiers to pass by.
More trails and information are available in “Backcountry Skiing and Snowshoeing in Grand County, Colorado”. The book is available locally in many retail outlets, gift shops, sporting goods stores, and coffee shops or visit our website at http://backcountrybound.home.mindspring.com/. This column is a partnership with Headwaters Trails Alliance (www.headwaterstrails.com), who works to plan, build, preserve and maintain multi-use trails in Grand County.
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