Alpine Gulch Trail

Length: 6 miles
Difficulty: Moderate walking at high altitude - steeper towards the end
Season of use: July through October
Amount of Use: Light horse use; light hiking
Elevation Change:
  Beginning: 9,000 ft.
  Ending: 12,480 ft.

Location Map

Topo Map

How to Get There: From Lake City take the Henson Creek Road west for 2 miles. The trailhead is on the south side of the road where a sign indicates the Alpine Gulch Trail.

Trailhead Parking/Camping: Parking is available in a wide pullout on the north side of the Henson Creek Road. Camping is permitted along the upper part of the trail.

Attractions: The Alpine Gulch trail is a strenuous hike that offers many scenic views. Steep cliffs and beautiful meadows combine to make this a varied hiking experience. In the upper section of the trail keep an eye out for herds of elk and deer. Remnants of several old cabins, which are left from turn of the century mining claims, are encountered along the trail.

Photo of Alpine Gulch
Photo by Arden Anderson ©

Narrative: After descending from the trailhead to Henson Creek, you'll cross the Alpine Gulch bridge. There is a small patch of private land just before the bridge so be sure to stay on the trail through this parcel. You'll ascend along Alpine Gulch through private property and a narrow scenic canyon. Please stay on the trail for the first 1.5 miles. The trail crosses the creek seven times in the first 2.5 miles. Some of these have log crossings and some do not, so come prepared. The crossings are not dangerous but water can reach mid-calf (more during spring runoff) and the rocks can be slippery. Just before you cross the creek for the 8th time, a trail forks to the left and follows the East Fork of Alpine Gulch. For another 3.75 miles this trail climbs through aspen thickets, grassy meadows and spruce forest. A steep climb brings you to an intermediate saddle north of Grassy Mountain that also offers a nice campsite. Another steep climb and you arrive at the Grassy Mountain saddle, where you get spectacular views in several directions. It is here you can also connect with the Williams Creek Trail by following rock cairns west along the ridge.

Hazards/Considerations: A compass, and a map are recommended to be packed. It is important to be prepared for typical July and August afternoon thundershowers. During storms stay off ridges and away from open ground to avoid lightning strikes. Be sure to bring sunscreen, rain gear and drinking water. Remember, hiking at high altitude requires more time and energy. Take your time, enjoy the scenery and avoid over-exertion. Be sure someone knows where you are going and when you plan to return.

Additional Information: The Alpine Gulch Trail can be used in conjunction with Williams Creek Trail for an overnight hiking trip.

Alpine Gulch Trail Location Map


Created by the Bureau of Land Management, Colorado
Point of Contact:
Jim Lovelace

Last modified: January 6, 2011