Chaffee County, Colorado
View this on the Colorado Trailheads Map
Trail Type: Out and Back
Nearby Towns: Granite, Leadville
Nearby Trails: Weston Pass, Flume Creek, Clohesy Lake
Trail Length: 15.78 miles
Elevation: 8,989 to 13,167 feet
This is almost like a combination of two trails. The first half of the trail is fairly easy and possible in almost any vehicle. It winds through aspen trees providing some amazing scenery, especially at a few of the switchbacks. The second half of the trail climbs above timberline on trail that can be rocky and rough. There are a few overlooks at the top that offer some spectacular views of the area.
The two halves are marked with some mining equipment, 7.9 miles from the trailhead. If you only wish to run the first half, it is easy to turn around here and go back out the way you came.
The trailhead is in an odd place. When you come to the town of Granite, there is a gas station right next to the highway. The trailhead is behind this gas station, at a sign marking it as County Road 398.
The trail is wide and smooth for 2.8 miles, following an almost straight path heading west to the hills. At this point, turn south and follow signs for forest service road 398 to the left. If you continue straight ahead you will be on the Flume Creek trail.
The trail gets a bit rougher from this point, but it is still a fairly easy climb. There are many switchbacks on the way up, passing through groves of aspen trees. Take note of a camp spot at one of the switchbacks -- it has some amazing views of the surrounding scenery and Lost Canyon below.
At 7.9 miles there is some mining equipment and the trail obviously changes. If you wish to keep the trail at a lower rating, turn around here. Otherwise, continue up the hill.
Take the right-most fork at the first "Y" in the road. If you take the left-most fork, you will soon come to a gate where you must turn around. There are some good views of the basin holding the private Gold Basin Mine from here, however.
Continuing along the main trail, you will soon come to a cabin perched above the trail to the right. There is a network of trails in this area. Stay on trails that look well-used, and obey all signs. The first overlook (marked as "Overlook 1" on the map found here) is just behind the cabin. It provides some great views of Boswell Gulch and the mountains surrounding the area. There is plenty of room to park and turn around.
Continue along the trail and up the hill. The trail gets narrower and a bit rougher in spots. Travel south until the trail comes to another "Y" with the two forks going either east or west. Turn right to to up to Overlook 2.
Overlook 2 is a bit more difficult to climb to, with loose rocks in the trail. You end at a weather station, with 360-degree views. This overlook is at 13,163 feet. You can see many of the surrounding mountains, including Quail Mountain directly to the west.
Go back to the main trail and continue east to the big cabin. There is a bit of parking here next to the remains of a large structure. Be sure to walk south of the cabin to see some great views of the valley below. There is a rough hiking trail here to some mining below, in the valley.
Continue east over some steep but short hills across the tundra until the trail ends at a parking area and turnaround. Walk to the top of the ridge to Overlook 3, with some more amazing views. Lost Canyon is below you to the northeast, Clear Creek Reservoir is fully visible below you to the east, and you can see mountains all around.
Return the way you came, enjoying the different scenery as you descend.
Information last updated on August 29th, 2010.
- August 28, 2010: ran by Gary, Jeffrey, Monica and Walt
- October 18, 2008: ran by Bill, Julie, Mark, Mark, Matt, Mike, Monica, Roger and Walt
From Denver, take I-70 west to Highway 91 through Leadville, and then Highway 24 a bit further south to the town of Granite. Watch for a gas station on the right of the highway in the tiny town. Go around to the back of the gas station where the trail begins.
Meet at the Starbucks next to the gas station at Downieville, exit 234 off of I-70.