U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORBUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
|Cross Country Skiing Trails|
The following are short descriptions and online sketch maps of the trails on the ski map available for $4 from the Chamber of Commerce or the BLM / Forest Service Office. It includes information on trail difficulty (Beginner, Intermediate or Advanced), avalanche potential - presence of avalanche paths crossing the trail (high, medium or low) and the amount of snowmobile use that can be expected on the trail (high, medium, low or none). Be sure to check for up-to-date avalanche forecasts, These trails are generally not marked along the way. Often there are other tracks to follow but if you are breaking trail in an unfamiliar area you may want a more detailed map to keep you on the trail.
Mill Creek - a very popular destination for local skiers with several trails and loops available (see detailed map). Trails are usually packed and some are groomed for practice for the WSC ski team (see Trail Etiquette). The snow here is usually good and the trails are not located in avalanche areas. Avalanche danger does increase about 4 miles up the valley. The scenery is spectacular. Difficulty - Intermediate; Avalanche potential - Low; Snowmobile use - Low. Mill Creek Map
Carbon Creek - A scenic trail that starts out with a few climbs then mellows out into gentler terrain. Snow is usually good and the trail is generally clear of avalanche paths. Watch out at some of the sharp turns on the downhill return. Difficulty - Intermediate; Avalanche potential - Low; Snowmobile use - Low. Carbon Creek Map
Ohio Pass Road - A consistent climb begins where winter maintenance of the road ends. This trail is commonly groomed in Nov. and Dec. for practice by the WSC Ski team (see Trail Etiquette). A few variations exist making loops possible. An early season favorite but avalanche danger later on cuts down its appeal. Difficulty - Advanced; Avalanche potential - High (especially near the top); Snowmobile use - Medium to High. Ohio Creek Map
Upper Taylor Park, Cottonwood Pass and Texas Creek - In winter the road is plowed to the Taylor Park Trading Post. Beyond that point a number of trails are groomed for snowmobilers. These trails also offer good opportunities for skiers as long as you recognize you are likely to encounter a number of snow machines along the trails. The scenery is beautiful, the avalanche danger is generally low and a cup of hot chocolate at the Trading Post when you are done makes this an area worth considering. Difficulty - Beginner to Intermediate; Avalanche potential - Low; Snowmobile use - High.
Union Park Trails - several timber sales in the Lodgepole forests above Union Park have opened up a few roads along the ridges that make wonderful ski trails. Park along the main Taylor Park Road just before it crosses Willow Creek. Ski along the road with the sign to Union Park. The trail is level for 0.3 mile then climbs steadily for another mile to the cattleguard at the top of the hill. From there roads go east and west along the ridges with some fine views of Taylor Park. Difficulty - Intermediate; Avalanche potential - Low; Snowmobile use - Low to Medium. Union Park Map
Lottis Creek and South Lottis Creek Trails - both of these routes start at the Lottis Creek campground along the Taylor Canyon Road. About 0.5 mile from the road you reach a decision point at a creek crossing. You can cross the stream and continue south along South Lottis Creek into the Fossil Ridge Wilderness on a moderate trail or turn East following Lottis Creek toward Union Park. The latter trail has a relatively gentle grade and one creek crossing. It is rocky enough that you want to go when there is enough snow to cover them up. South Lottis Creek provides a delightfully fast return trip. Difficulty - Intermediate to Advanced; Avalanche potential - Medium; Snowmobile use - Low. Lottis Creek Map
Summerville Trail - leads south from the Taylor Canyon Road into the Fossil Ridge Wilderness. The grade is gentle to moderate for the first 1.5 miles. The trail then climbs steeply up many switchbacks that are best left to advanced skiers. The north facing slopes hold snow most of the season. The steepness and sharp turns in spots make this trail most suitable for experienced skiers. Difficulty - Intermediate to Advanced; Avalanche potential - Medium; Snowmobile use - None. Summerville Map
Slate River Valley- A popular trail close to Crested Butte with gentle hills and beautiful scenery. Park considerately at the trailhead. When avalanche danger is high elsewhere this broad valley is usually safe. In extreme conditions, however, several chutes can run. Difficulty - Beginner; Avalanche potential - Low to medium; Snowmobile use - Medium.
Washington Gulch - This out and back trail begins near Meridian Lake. Follow the "skiers" sign to the left about one mile out to avoid some of the snowmobile traffic. This is another relatively safe haven during high avalanche danger. Expect to share this popular trail with a variety of other recreationists. Difficulty - Beginner; Avalanche potential - Low; Snowmobile use - Medium.
Gothic Road - Park above the Town of Mt. Crested Butte where winter maintenance ends. Don't mistake the climb up Snodgrass Mountain, beginning from the same trailhead, for the level road out to the old mining town of Gothic. This trail is frequently packed and sometimes groomed. Expect gradual, rolling climbs and descents leading up the valley. The buildings and area around Gothic are private property belonging to the Rocky Mountain Biological Lab. Please do not trespass but you can ski along the road through the townsite. Several large avalanche chutes just before Gothic and others several miles above Gothic make this a place to be wary of when avalanche danger is high. Difficulty - Beginner; Avalanche potential - High; Snowmobile use - low to none
Brush Creek - Access this area on the Brush Creek road past the Skyland Resort. The trailhead is located about 2 miles from Hwy 135. A variety of out and back routes are available along the West, Middle and East Fork of Brush Creek as well as the Farris Creek trail. Climbs are steep in a few spots and avalanche potential increases as you get into the upper reaches of this system. Difficulty - Intermediate to Advanced; Avalanche potential - Low at start, High further up; Snowmobile use - Low.
Cement Creek - This is a fairly gentle route up the Cement Creek drainage that usually begins near a ranch house .6 mile above the Cement Creek campground. A locked gate may prevent vehicles from going further but if it is skiers can continue up the plowed road for another 1.5 miles then on to the unplowed trail. Please be sure you park so you don't block access through the gate. Skiers can continue for a number of miles up the road. This is definitely a place to avoid during times of high avalanche danger since many active chutes cross the upper trail. Difficulty - Beginner; Avalanche potential - High; Snowmobile use - Low.
Crested Butte Nordic Council Groomed Trails - the CBNC maintains a system of 28 miles of groomed ski trails adjacent to Crested Butte. The system includes opportunities for beginners, intermediate and advanced skiers. Tickets for the trail system are available from the Nordic Ski Center at 620 Second St. A Season Pass is also available. A few groomed trails can be used free by the public. They also offer ski rentals, backcountry tours and lessons for classic and skating styles. Difficulty - All levels; Avalanche potential - Low - monitored by staff; Snowmobile use - None.
Willow Creek - The turnoff for the Willow Creek Road is located about a mile west of Ohio City along the Quartz Creek Road. There is public access through private land but please stay on the road for the first quarter mile. Beyond that you can enjoy a steady but moderate climb for 4 miles along Willow Creek. This is a peaceful area not used by many folks. Several side trails are possible to explore the area more fully. Be careful not to disturb wildlife that may be wintering in that area. Difficulty - Intermediate; Avalanche potential - Low; Snowmobile use - Low.
Gold Creek - The Gold Creek Road heads north out of Ohio City and is plowed for nearly 5 miles. Beyond that, skiers can enjoy several trails including the easy Gold Creek Road or the more challenging Mill Lake and Lamphier Lakes Trails in the wilderness. Trailhead parking is limited so park considerately. This area doesn't get much use so you may have to break trail after a snow. Difficulty - Beginner to Intermediate; Avalanche potential - Low; Snowmobile use - Low. Gold Creek Map
Pitkin Area Trails - Winter maintenance ends near the Pitkin Campground where a large parking area is provided. From there, skiers have their choice of a variety of trails ( see detailed map). You can continue on the main road up toward Cumberland Pass or take off on the Middle Quartz Creek Road for gentle grades. It is not recommended to ski very far on the Alpine Tunnel Road which follows the railroad grade of the old Denver and South Park Line that was built in the late 1800's. Be aware that avalanche danger increases significantly in the upper parts of this trail. Difficulty - Beginner to Intermediate; Avalanche potential - Low with Medium in higher locations; Snowmobile use - Low to Medium. Pitkin Map
Waunita Pass Road - This 11.5 mile trip requires a vehicle shuttle. It is suggested that you get an early start, drop a vehicle near the Waunita Hot Springs Resort then drive to Pitkin to start skiing. The road climbs steadily to gain 1200 ft. in the first 4 miles topping out on Waunita Pass at 10,300 ft. From there it is a gentle downhill for the other 7 miles down to the resort.
Black Sage Pass Road - This is another shuttle trip. After leaving a vehicle near the Waunita resort, you should start your trip at the end of winter plowing on the Whitepine Road which goes north from Hwy. 50 about 1.5 miles east of Sargents. Ski north on this road for another mile then turn west onto the Black Sage Pass Road. This trail covers about 8.5 miles over relatively open terrain. The grade is gentle, climbing 700 ft. in the first four miles. The lower elevation (8900 - 9600) and open vegetation along this route means you need a pretty good snowpack before this trail is skiable. Snowmobiles are not uncommon here. Difficulty - Beginner (in good shape) to Intermediate; Avalanche potential - Low; Snowmobile use - Medium. Black Sage Map
Old Monarch Pass Road - This is one of the classic ski trips in the Gunnison Country. Like the last 2 trips, this one requires a vehicle shuttle. Leave your shuttle vehicle at the end of winter plowing about 5 miles up the Whitepine Road. This road goes north from HWY. 50 about 1.5 miles east of Sargents. Drive around to begin your trip at the sign for Old Monarch Pass Road which is 1 mile east of Monarch Pass on Hwy 50. The trail climbs steadily for the first mile then has a gradual to moderate downhill slide for 9 miles to the Whitepine Road. The views along the way are very nice. Because of the shuttle and the length of the trip it is best to get an early start. Difficulty - Intermediate; Avalanche potential - Medium; Snowmobile use - Low to Medium. Old Monarch Pass Map
Lost Canyon Road - Just northeast of Gunnison, this road needs a good snowpack to offer good skiing but its closeness to town merits its mention. From the end of the pavement on County Road 10 (which runs by the Cranor Hill Ski Area) the road is plowed for another 1.5 miles. Park carefully so you don't block traffic. You can ski on a gentle to moderate grade for at least 6 miles up the road first through open sage hills then aspen and spruce forest. The area is not heavily used but you may run into an occasional snowmobile or dog sled up there. You can also tie this road in with a return route along the Signal Peak Ridge for some nice views of the Gunnison and Ohio Creek Valleys. This area is an important wintering area for deer and elk. Please minimize your impact on them by being quiet, keeping your dogs under control and not pursuing them. Difficulty - Beginner to Intermediate; Avalanche potential - Low; Snowmobile use - Medium.
Hartman Rocks - Located a few miles southwest of Gunnison, this area provides good skiing opportunties when there is adequate snow cover. Volunteers from the Gunnison Nordic Club work with the BLM to groom 16 miles of trails for classic and skate skiing. Several loops are possible. There are 2 main entrance points. The first is the main Hartman Rocks Base area parking lot just off the Gold Basin Road (County Rd 38) several miles south of the Airport. The second is off the McCabe's Lane Road - go west on Highway 50 about 3.5 miles to McCabe's Lane (County Rd 32) then south about 1.5 miles to a small parking area on the left. Difficulty - Beginner to Intermediate; Avalanche Potential - Low; Snowmobile use - Low
Point of Contact: Arden_Anderson
Last modified: January 30, 2006