Clear Creek County, Colorado
Arapaho National Forest, Roosevelt National Forest
Clear Creek Ranger District, Boulder Ranger District
View this on the Colorado Trailheads Map
Forest Service Road: 353.1
County Road: 4N
Trail Type: Straight Through
Nearby Towns: Rollinsville, Alice
Nearby Trails: Jenny Creek, Rollins Pass East, Yankee Hill, Loch Lomond, Chinns Lake, Mammoth Gulch, Sheridan Hill, Moffat Tunnel Road
Trail Length: 9.5 miles
Elevation: 9,808 to 12,071 feet
The big mud puddles have been fenced off and closed.
This is a trail that everyone should do because it's close to Denver, it offers amazing views above timberline, and it's only moderately technical. Though it is too difficult for many SUVs, a 4-wheel drive vehicle with decent clearance should have no issues. Note that this trail is very often chilly and windy, providing a fantastic break from the heat of the city.
You can start at either end and have a great time, though the trail is difficult to find if you start at Alice at the south end. Therefore, we recommend that you begin at the north end near Rollinsville.
The trail begins very near the highway at Rollinsville and winds its way through the trees as you do the first part of the Mammoth Gulch trail. There are a few camp sites near the bottom that are pretty popular, so you may encounter a lot of traffic at this end. It climbs continuously and the trees begin to thin as you approach timberline. There are many trails that intersect with this trail, but stay on Forest Service road 353 which is almost always the main trail.
The trees thin and disappear completely as you climb above timberline. The next section of trail is almost a shelf road, but it isn't as narrow as most shelf roads are. You circle around Kingston Peak itself and come to an overlook with ample parking. At the bottom is Mammoth Gulch, with James Peak, Haystack Mountain and Nebraska Mountain across the gulch. Little Echo Lake is also visible on the mountainside. You can park here and hike to this lake, James Peak Lake, and up James Peak itself.
Note that it is usually very windy and chilly right here. Continue on and the trail gets quite a bit rougher. It is a narrow trail that has lots of whoopdeedoos and loose rocks and most people will require 4-wheel drive.
At the top of the hill you are treated to some fantastic views. The next portion has you travel down a fairly easy hill of loose rock. At the bottom you come to another hiking trail that you can take to Loch Lomond on the other side of the mountain.
Continue across the flat tundra and stay on the trail. Many people have created illegal trails through here, and they are trying to recover.
The next portion is yet another steep hill of loose rock, but this one may require some momentum. Note that there is only one way up this hill because the former options are also being reclaimed.
At the top, stop at the rock house. Put a rock onto the house or move a rock to a different place on the house -- it brings you good luck! You can also view Loch Lomond and the end of the 4x4 trail from here.
The trail finally comes down past timberline again into the "Enchanted Forest" of trees that have been very windblown. It is definitely an interesting sight to see. Eventually you wind your way into the town of Alice. Keep heading downhill and you will come out on Fall River Road which takes you to I-70.
Information last updated on July 24th, 2016.
- July 16th, 2016: ran by Bryan, Holly, Jeffrey, Matt K., Monica and Roger
- August 24th, 2013: ran by Bill S., Mike S., Monica and Walt
- August 15th, 2009: ran by Brian D., Gary, Jim, Matt K., Mike S., Monica, Roger and Walt
- September 10th, 2007: ran by Mark F., Monica and Walt
- September 10th, 2005: ran by Gary and Mark F.
- August 28th, 2004: ran by Curtis, Marla, Paul and Perry
- July 17th, 2004: ran by Bob S., Dave B., Gary, Jon G. and Monica
- September 20th, 2003: ran by Amir, Brian E., Ladd, Mike C. and Monica
- July 27th, 2002: ran by Austin, Beth, Monica and Rich G.
- September 4th, 2000: ran by Monica
You can run this trail in either direction, but it is easiest to find your way out if you end on Fall River Road. Take I-70 or U.S. 6 from Denver to Highway 119. Take this through Blackhawk to Rollinsville. Turn left on F.S. 149 and go about 5 miles. Just past Tolland turn left on F.S. 176, the start of the Mammoth Gulch trail. About 1.5 miles in continue straight to what becomes F.S. 353 (do not take F.S. 183 or F.S. 176). This is the trailhead for Kingston Peak. Go straight again at 2.3 miles. At 3.5 miles follow 353 to the right and go 8 more miles, bearing right three more times (do not take F.S. 175).
The rest of the trail is pretty obvious. Once you get to the other side and start to make your way down below timberline F.S. 353 becomes Hilltop Road. Follow this and turn left on Hillside Road (yes, there is a Hilltop and a Hillside). Turn right on Nebraska, then left on Texas Drive. Turn right on Silvercreek, left on Alice Road very briefly, then right on Fall River Road. This will take you out to I-70.
Meet on I-70 exit 259 to Morrison. Turn immediately right to stop in the T-Rex parking lot that is up against the highway.
If you are coming from north of I-70 it makes more sense to meet in Boulder at the Starbucks at 3033 Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder, CO. This is also immediately next to a gas station, Moe's Bagels and King Soopers.