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Hiking & Walking: Colorado > Rio Grande National Forest > Divide Ranger District

Quick Facts

Sawmill Gulch Trail (Divide Ranger District)

Beginning Elevation: 8,800 Feet (2743.1 Meters)
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Gain: 3,300 Feet (1028.7 Meters)
Ending Elevation: 12,100 Feet (3771.8 Meters)
Length, One-way: 5.6 Miles (9.33 Kilometers)
Trail Number: 804
Usage: Light to Moderate
USGS Maps: Creede, Bristol Head, Baldy Cinco

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

The main attraction of this trail is the access to Crystal Lake. Fishing at Crystal Lake and good scenery is available along this trail. Good camping areas are generally not available until reaching the McKenzie Park area approximately 3.3 miles from the Miners Creek Road. Good camping places are also available at Crystal Lake. Four-wheel-drive vehicles can get to Crystal Lake via access from the Bristol Head Road (Forest Road 532).

Domestic sheep can sometimes be seen grazing in McKenzie Park and the Crystal Lake area during the summer months. Intense lightning storms occur in this area during the summer rainy season.

Hikers with 2-wheel-drive vehicles should park near the fence immediately after the Shallow Creek Road (Forest Road 804) crosses Miners Creek. From this point, the road/trail will junction within 200 yards. Hikers should keep to the right. After proceeding approximately 300 yards, the road will again fork. Both forks will take hikers to the same point. The road/trail to the left will have less steep climbs but is a longer route to the beginning of the foot trail. The road to the right, straight ahead, has one long, steep climb but is a shorter route to the beginning of the foot trail.

Four-wheel-drive vehicles must turn left, as the shorter steeper route to the foot path is closed to motorized vehicles. Shortly after the foot trail begins, the hiker must climb up a series of switchbacks before entering the scattered patches of spruce/fir timber and small open parks at the east end of McKenzie Park. The trail will meander through McKenzie Park for about 1.0 mile. Towards the west end of the park, the trail will be somewhat undefined.

Continue northwesterly through the alpine meadows for about 0.5 mile and you will either cross the Crystal Lake 4-wheel-drive access road or be able to see Crystal Lake. If you find the 4-wheel-drive access road, head north and in less than 0.5 mile you will be at Crystal Lake.

Directions from Creede, Colorado: Travel south on Colorado Highway 149 for approximately 3.0 miles to Forest Development Road # 507 (Miners Creek Road). Go north on Forest Road 507 for approximately 1.4 miles. Turn west onto the Shallow Creek Road (Forest Road 508). The next 1.5 miles of this trail can be driven by 4-wheel-drive vehicles. Those is 2-wheel-drive vehicles should park and start hiking immediately after crossing Miners Creek.

Seasonal Information:
Normally Open: June through September .

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

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Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Backpacking McKenzie Park and Crystal Lake
ICON Cold Water Fishing Crystal Lake
ICON Hiking & Walking Sawmill Gulch Trail (Divide Ranger District)
ICON Horseback Riding 4 WD road can be followed
ICON Mountain Biking Follow the 4 WD road

Related Activities
Bristol View Campground - Campground is located 22.6 miles west of Creede on Forest Road #510. 16 Campgrounds with fishing and trail access.

Marshall Park Campground - This site is located near Colorado Hwy. 149 and is the closest forest campground to Creede. There is very little screening or trees, so heavy vehicle traffic along Colorado Hwy. 149 is visible.

North Clear Creek - Four fishing access points to North Clear Creek are provided by means of primitive dirt roads, marked with white arrows, that lead off Forest Road #513 (Continental Reservoir/Rito Honda Reservoir Road).

North Clear Creek Campground - Some sites are in open, while some sites are screened with small aspen/spruce/fir. Good general area in the fall to observe and take pictures of fall aspen colors.

North Clear Creek Falls - This site is 27 miles west of Creede in a fenced area with open grass vegetation. There is a very picturesque view of North Clear Creek Falls.

North Clear Creek Road 510/Santa Maria-Seepage Roa - The route crosses open parks and rolling aspen-covered hills. Beautiful views of Bristol Head Peak and the surrounding mountains of the Continental Divide, as well as North Clear Creek waterfall are available.

Palisade Campground - Some sites are open, while other sites are screened with cottonwoods/aspen/spruce/fir. Campground is located adjacent to Colorado Highway 149 for easy access to travelers passing through.

Palisade Trail - This trail goes north towards Blue Park and Long Park and is mostly used by hikers and hunters.

Road Canyon Picnic Ground - 24.5 miles southwest of Creede on Forest Road #520. Picnic and fisherman parking.

Silver Thread Campground - This facility is located adjacent to Highway 149. The area is mostly open and grassy with little screening or trees. CO Highway loops around the campground on three sides, with no screening from the campground.

More Information
Frequently Asked Questions
Email the Local Ranger

Visitor Information:

Divide Ranger Station, 13308 West US Highway 160, P.O. Box 40 , Del Norte, CO, 81132, Phone: 719-657-3321, TTY: 719-657-6038


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