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Backpacking: Colorado > Rio Grande National Forest > Divide Ranger District

Quick Facts

Continental Divide - Carson Saddle to Stony Pass (Rio Grande Reservoir) Tra

Beginning Elevation: 12,360 Feet (3852.9 Meters)
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Elevation Gain: 140 Feet (43.6 Meters)
Ending Elevation: 12,220 Feet (3809.2 Meters)
Length, One-way: 16.1 Miles (26.83 Kilometers)
Trail Number: 813
Usage: Moderate to Heavy
USGS Maps: Finger Mesa, Pole Creek Mountain, Howardsville
Vehicle Accessibility: Some parts are multiple use Wilderness areas closed to all but foot and horse travel

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

From the Carson Saddle, the Continental Divide Trail and the Colorado Trail follow the old jeep road south, a little over 1.0 mile, to the junction of Lost Trail Creek Trail # 821 and the La Garita Stock Driveway Trail # 787. Here the trail turns west-northwest on a jeep trail and ascends on the north side of Lost Trail Creek. This is still a portion of the La Garita Stock Driveway Trail # 787. The jeep trail eventually terminates some distance beyond the lowest and most westerly mining claim and turns into a trail at about 2.5 miles where the jeep trail began running west-northwest along Lost Trail Creek.

From about this point westward, 4-wheel-drive jeep vehicles are not permitted; however, the trail remains open to motorized vehicles less than 40 inches wide and to trail bikes until the trail intersects Rio Grande Reservoir Road-Stony Pass Road (Forest Development Road # 520) approximately 1.0 mile below the pass to the west. Although the trail segment south of the Carson Saddle to the Stony Pass Road is open to motorized vehicles (motorcycles and ATVs) and to mountain bikes, the trails were not designed for 3-wheel and 4-wheel ATVs. The trails are often narrow and not well suited to such vehicle use. Motorized 2-wheel trail bikes, and nonmotorized mountain bikes are better suited to this segment of trail.

Campsites abound along Lost Trail Creek and the broad grassy meadows of upper Pole Creek, where trout splash in the meandering watercourse. Cataract Lake lies northeast about 5.0 miles from where the jeep trail began running along Lost Trail Creek. Excellent views and good fishing are possible along this entire trail segment. The scenery is magnificent along this portion of the trail between the Continental Divide, just south of Cataract Lake and Pole Creek Trail 820, a distance of approximately 3.4 miles.

This entire trail segment is above timberline. Domestic sheep travel along this trail in early July and early September. This trail segment serves as a link between the Lost Trail Creek and Pole Creek drainages. At this trail junction, La Garita Stock Driveway Trail # 787, Continental Divide Trail, turns to the south and west following West Fork Pole Creek.

For the first two miles, the creek lies to the south of the trail and is relatively flat. The trail then crosses the creek and follows it along its south side remaining there as it steadily climbs above timberline until it reaches its highest point to the west about 12,483 feet just east-northeast of Canby Mountain, 13,478 feet. From this high point, the trail drops to the south-southeast and then to the south-southwest to its intersection of Rio Grande Reservoir-Stony Pass Road (Forest Road 520) at a point approximately one mile below the summit of Stony Pass. The boundary of the Weminuche Wilderness lies across the road, which serves as the wilderness boundary to the west.

Directions from Lake City, Colorado: CARSON SADDLE-WAGER GULCH TRAIL ACCESS: Travel south on Colorado Highway 149 approximately 1.5 miles to a turnoff which leads right to Lake San Cristobal. Continue 9.3 miles on the road up the valley of the Lake Fork to the 4-wheel-drive turnoff at left, which leads to Wager Gulch and Carson. Go approximately 5.0 miles up this rough road to Carson Saddle, so called because it is a low point on the Continental Divide about a mile beyond the old mining town of Carson.

Directions from Creede, Colorado: RIO GRANDE RESERVOIR-STONY PASS ROAD (Forest Development Road # 520): Drive south on Colorado Highway 149 for 21.0 miles and turn left on the side road marked "Rio Grande Reservoir." Continue 19.0 miles to where the graded dirt road ends and where the 4-wheel-drive road begins. From here on, the road is rough, occasionally steep, and often muddy. Continue approximately 12.5 miles (or just one mile below the summit of Stony Pass) to where the La Garita Stock Driveway Trail # 787 intersects the road to the northeast.

Seasonal Information:
Normally Open: Late Summer through Early Fall .

Current Conditions & Trip Reports
Snowed in Updated: 2000-05-09 10:36:00.0

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Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Backpacking Along the entire trail segment
ICON Cold Water Fishing Lost Trail Creek
ICON Hiking & Walking Continental Divide - Carson Saddle to Stony Pass (Rio Grande Reservoir) Trail
ICON Horseback Riding Entire trail segment is above timberline
ICON Mountain Biking Not permitted in wilderness
ICON Motorcycle Riding South of the Carson Saddle to the Stony Pass Road is open
ICON ATV Riding The trails are often narrow and not well suited to ATV riding
ICON Viewing Scenery Excellent views and scenery

Related Activities
Lost Trail Campground - The campground is located 38.2 miles southwest of Creede on Forest Road 520. There are numerous attractions to tempt the camper.

Lost Trail Creek - Excellent views and good fishing are both possible along this trail. Evidence of recent and historic mining activity is visible near Carson Pass on the Continental Divide.

Stony Pass Road 520 - This is a scenic and remote primitive road that is a popular route between the historic mining towns of Creede and Silverton. Numerous mining claims, mines, and associated structures are found along the route.

West Lost Trail Creek - Beautiful views of Pole Mountain and vast panoramic views are possible once a hiker begins approaching the Continental Divide. This trail provides the shortest access to Cataract Lake from the Rio Grande River drainage.

West Pole Creek Trail - Excellent views and an excellent assortment of wildflowers can be found in the West Pole Drainage. Few people hike in the West Pole Area. Hiking this trail is basically a cross-country type experience.

More Information

Visitor Information:

Creede-Mineral County Chamber of Commerce, P.O. Box 580 , Creede, CO, 81130, Phone: 800-327-2102 or 719-658-2374, Fax: 719-658-2717


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