Grand County Trail of the Week |

Grand County Trail of the Week

17. MONARCH LAKE LOOPLevel of Difficulty 2 (on a scale of 1-5, 1 being the easiest)Round-trip Mileage 5.63 milesTotal Elevation Gain 394Round-trip Touring Time 3 – 4 hours Altitude, GPS Reading at Trailhead 8362, 400710N, 1054519WAltitude, GPS Reading at Highest Point (between (7) & (8)) 8474, 400602N, 1054419WTrail Fee Required Yes, $5 per day per vehicle available at self serve kiosk on CR 6 (FDR 125). Free with ANRA annual pass, Golden Eagle, Golden Age, and Access passports.Dogs must be Leashed Indian Peaks Wilderness Area Regulations Apply See USDA Sulphur Ranger District regarding large groups.Trailhead Location On US Hwy 34, between Granby and Grand Lake, between mile markers 5 and 6, turn east on CR 6 (FDR 125). Follow this road for 9.0 miles. Trailhead parking is at the end of the plowed road at the Road Closed gate (1).Tour Description Pass around the Road Closed gate and ascend up the hill along the road. Arapaho Creek approaches the road for a short distance on the right. At the next Road Closed gate (2), pass around it and register at the cabin. This is the summer trailhead. Just ahead of the cabin is a sign identifying all the trails (3) from this trailhead. Follow the Southside trail to the left, where Monarch Lake is visible on the right. Parallel the lake through the woods and willows. Cross over several sections of boulders, which have fallen from the hillside above. Move away from the lake where Buchanan Creek is visible on the right and cross into the Indian Peaks Wilderness. Follow the gently rolling terrain through the woods. At the fork and trail marker (4), the Cascade trail is straight and the Southside trail is on the right. Turn right and continue through the forest. At the bridge (5), cross over Buchanan Creek and parallel the creek downstream. Gently ascend and descend and move away from the creek. At the next fork and trail marker (6), the Arapaho trail is on the left and the Southside trail is straight. Continue straight and cross over Arapaho Creek. A short distance further is another fork (7) where there is a fallen-in cabin on the left. The High Lonesome trail and CD trail are on the left. Continue straight on the Southside trail. Leave the Indian Peaks Wilderness and ascend gently through the forest. Monarch Lake is slightly visible through the trees on the right. Traverse the hillside where the trail is narrow and winds on the descent. Just off the trail, near the waters edge is a boiler (8), also referred to as a steam donkey. During the mechanized logging era, the steam donkey was designed to yard logs onto a chute and shoot the logs into a lake (or holding pond). This replaced the original process of using animals and flumes to transport the logs. The logs were then floated to mills for processing. Continue to circle the lake. The west end of the lake provides a great view of the Indian Peaks mountains and valleys. A picnic area (9), which is on the right overlooks the lake. Cross the dam, which releases water into Arapaho Creek and return to the cabin and trail sign (3). Turn left and return to the trailhead (1). Backcountry Tip of the Week Prepare for bad weather, injury, or equipment failure. Always bring along an emergency kit, space blanket, jack knife with pliers and screwdriver, waterproof matches or lighter, and fire starter. In addition, include duct tape and straps, for equipment repairs. 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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