Grand County Trail of the Week: Second Creek Cabin |

Grand County Trail of the Week: Second Creek Cabin

Deborah Carr and Lou Ladrigan
Backcountry Bound
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Activity – Backcountry Ski or Snowshoe

Level of Difficulty – 3 (on a scale of 1-5, 1 being the easiest)

One-way Mileage – .88 miles

One-way Touring Time – 1 – 1 _ hours

Altitude, GPS Reading at Trailhead – 10,581′, 39°49’22″N, 105°46’11″W

Altitude, GPS Reading at Destination – 11,331′, 39°49’36″N, 105°46’59″W

Trail Fee Required – No

Dogs are permitted without leash

Skins for backcountry skis are necessary (see “Backcountry Tip of the Week” below)

Trailhead Location – On US Hwy 40, south of the town of Winter Park, at mile marker 240 is a pullout on the west side of the highway. There is no trailhead sign, but there is an avalanche warning sign at the trailhead for winter backcountry skiers (1). Read this sign carefully because the terrain beyond the trail and cabin are prone to avalanches.

Tour Description – Begin on the right (north) side of the avalanche sign and head west, parallel to Second Creek. Climb through a montane forest, dense with spruce, fir, and lodgepole pine trees. Move away from the creek bed where the trees begin to thin and ascend steadily. Continue to head west up the steep treeless hillside (2), which is about a 25% grade. When the rock outcropping is visible at the top of the hill, head toward the left side of the dead (telephone pole looking) tree (3), located left of the rock outcropping. A great view of the cirque is visible ahead. Pass around the dead tree and follow the hill around to the right (north) to a level spot where Second Creek Cabin (4) sits nestled in the trees. (Plans are under way to replace this old cabin. Details about the new cabin can be obtained by contacting the USDA Forest Service Sulphur Ranger District at (970) 887-4100, the Grand Huts Association (970) 726-4099, or

From the promontory beside the cabin, the views of the James Peak area are spectacular. Looking as far north as possible along the Continental Divide is James Peak. To the south are Parry Peak, Mt. Eva with a small building on top, Mt. Flora, and the Colorado Mines Peak with all its communications stations.

Backcountry Tip of the Week – Climbing Skins adhere to the bottoms of skis to increase traction for climbing long steep ascents. Climbing skins are generally made from mohair or nylon and extend the entire length and width of the ski. There is a nap in one direction to provide traction for climbing, while maintaining forward glide. Climbing skins are generally secured to the bottom of the ski with adhesive. They can also be used to provide traction in icy conditions and during steep descents.

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 This column is a partnership with Headwaters Trails Alliance (, who works to plan, build, preserve and maintain multi-use trails in Grand County.

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