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Hiking & Walking: Colorado > Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests > Taylor River Ranger District

Quick Facts

Timberline Trail

Beginning Elevation: 10,880 Feet (3391.5 Meters) Mirror Lake Road
Difficulty: Moderate to More Difficult
Elevation Gain: 1,550 Feet (483.2 Meters)
Ending Elevation: 10,240 Feet (3192.0 Meters) Red Mountain Road
High Point: 12,430 Feet (3874.7 Meters)
Length: 31 Miles (51.67 Kilometers) to Mirror Lake Road
Other Maps: Trails Illustrated 129, 131
Recommended Season: Summer to Fall
Trail Number: 414
Usage: Moderate
USGS Maps: Pieplant, Mt. Harvard

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

This is a multi-use trail that leads along the timberline of the western Sawatch Range. It is also a long distance trail leading 31 miles from Mirror Lake north to Red Mountain Road. The trail serves as the western boundary for the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness area, but is not within the wilderness.

Timberline Trail, 414, begins at the end of Forest Service Road 267.1B in Garden Basin. This is also on the route of the Continental Divide Trail. You may wish to park in the designated area close to Mirror Lake Road and hike one mile on road 267.1B.

The trail begins at 11,520 feet and begins to ascend immediately. A mile from Garden Basin the trail reaches 12,400 feet and begins to descend. The trail winds around a ridge and leads into the Sanford Creek drainage. It follows Sanford Creek for two miles. The trail leaves Sanford Creek and climbs a low ridge before descending into the Cow Creek valley. The trail meets two trails in the Cow Creek drainage. One trail intersects Timberline Trail south of the creek and the other intersects Timberline Trail north of the creek.

About a mile and a half north of Cow Creek Timberline Trail crosses Cottonwood Pass Road. There is a parking area and trailhead for the trail on Cottonwood Pass Road. The trail descends to Texas Creek traveling north from Cottonwood Pass Road. The length of this stretch of tread is approximately two and a half miles. After crossing Texas Creek, walk eastward on Texas Creek Road approximately one half mile. The trail will switchback from the road then begin leading northward in Prospector Gulch.

Two forks occur in the trail north of Texas Creek Road. They are approximately one mile apart and Timberline Trail bears to the left at both. Timberline Trail continues to follow the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness boundary into the Illinois Creek drainage. There will be three stream crossings within two miles then the trail intersects with Lake Ann Trail, 1462. This is where the Continental Divide Trail leaves the Timberline Trail heading eastward for the Clear Creek Valley.

Timberline Trail remains close to 11,400 feet for the next two miles then begins to descend slowly. Approximately four miles from the Lake Ann Trail intersection the trail reaches 10,800 feet and the Pieplant Creek drainage. It crosses four creeks within this drainage. There are also two trail branches that lead to the Pieplant Mine within the wilderness boundary.

Two miles from the last stream crossing near the Pieplant Mill, Red Mountain Creek Trail, leads northward into the wilderness from Timberline Trail. From this point to the northern trail terminus, Timberline Trail parallels Red Mountain Creek. During these last two and a half miles the trail descends from 10,040 to 9,840. The trail ends on Red Mountain Road.

Directions from Taylor River Road: The northern terminus of Timberline Trail is on Red Mountain Road about two and a half miles east of Taylor River Road. Red Mountain Road lies two miles north of Dinner Station Campground.

Directions from Tincup: The southern terminus of Timberline Trail is on Mirror Lake Road two and a half miles east of Tincup.

Directions from Taylor River Road: Timberline Trail is also accessible from Pieplant Road, Texas Creek Road, Cottonwood Pass Road, Cow Creek Road and Sanford Creek Road.

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

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Filed By: bob
Time of Day: 11
Length of Time: a while
Difficulty: Hard
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: rode timberline from cottonwood pass road too mirror lake ,me and my bro took to big enduros threw there last summer and it was tuff,i had fun but wished i had been on a different bike,be care ful this trail is not for beginers
Conditions: it was a drought last summer 02 dry,but we still found water ,tough,tech trail
Water Availability: couple of places
Recommended Clothing: typical gear

Difficulty: Hard
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: August, 2000 road from Pieplant to Texxas Creek. It was damp and the uphills in this direction were very steep and difficult. Good technical ride.

Difficulty: Hard
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Summer 00 with Harold twice, but never the enitre trail. first north out of mirror lake to high area and turned around. Later from trail head west of cottonwood pass. first north past texas creek about amile, turned around, explored texas creek and down to taylor res gas station and more exploration up to cottonwood again then south to mirror lake and around back up to pick up, tough day 50 miles.

Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Backpacking Timberline Trail
ICON Hiking & Walking Timberline Trail
ICON Horseback Riding Timberline Trail
ICON Mountain Biking Timberline Trail
ICON Motorcycle Riding Timberline Trail
ICON Viewing Scenery Timberline Trail

Related Activities
Mirror Lake Road # 267 - The first four miles of this road from Tincup to Mirror Lake are usually passable by two-wheel drive vehicles.

Pieplant Creek Road # 742.8F - This road provides access to Pieplant Creek, Timberline Trail and the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness.

Red Mountain Creek Road # 742.8H - This road accesses Timberline Trail (no 4 WD vehicles allowed) and Red Mountain Creek. The first mile of the road is usually passable by two-wheel drive vehicles.

Red Mountain Creek Trail - Red Mountain Creek Trail, 543, leads from the Red Mountain Road to the Continental Divide. The trail is marked as Rocky Mountain Trail on USGS maps.

Texas Creek Road #755 - Texas Creek Road provides access to the western boundary of the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness Area. This part of the wilderness is not heavily used and a good place to seek solitude.

More Information

Visitor Information:

Gunnison National Forest, 216 North Colorado , Gunnison, CO, 81230, Phone: 970-641-0471


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