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

Quick Facts

Continental Divide - Sawtooth Mountain to Knife Edge Trail

Beginning Elevation: 11,800 Feet (3678.3 Meters)
Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
Elevation Gain: 600 Feet (187.0 Meters)
Ending Elevation: 12,400 Feet (3865.3 Meters)
Length, One-way: 21.3 Miles (35.5 Kilometers)
Trail Number: 813
Usage: Light to Moderate
USGS Maps: Cimarrona Peak, Palomino Mountain, South River Peak

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

Indian Paintbrush
Copyright: Unknown
Indian Paintbrush
This trail segment begins with a 1/4 mile traverse of the cliffs that form the fable Knife Edge. Crossing the Knife Edge is not as scary as it used to be, as it has been "improved" to reduce hazardous conditions. From the Knife Edge to Piedra Pass, the trail goes up and down like a roller coaster. Most of it is reasonably short, steep pitches. The trail slopes quite close to the Divide and frequently weaves above and below timberline. From the water diversion ditches at Piedra Pass, the trail makes a rather lengthy climb towards South River Peak. From the south River Peak Area to Sawtooth Mountain, the trail winds along the crest of the Continental Divide,well above timberline. Some of the highest elevations along the trail occur in this segment. Following this section is occasionally difficult in places as some sections of the trail can be indistinct.

Beautiful views, isolated wild country, elevations approaching 13,000 feet and spine-tingling climbs along rocky cliffs await the hiker on this trail segment. The hiker who likes to fish can go to Goose Lake which is within two miles of the trail. This lake also has several good camping areas. Little Goose Lake is sterile, so fishing would be futile. There are also a number of nice camping areas, with comfortable tree cover, between the Knife Edge and Piedra Pass. From the pass to Sawtooth Mountain, one may have to wander away from the trail a short distance to find a nice flat camping area with tree cover and ready water supply. Hikers usually have this segment of the Continental Divide Trail all to themselves, as it is not widely visited in the summer months. Several trail junctions are not well defined or signed, so be sure to have a USGS topographic map to help guide you if needed.

Directions from Creede: Travel on Highway 149 southwest from Creede for 7 miles to the junction of Highway 149 and Middle Creek Road (Forest Development Road 523). Follow this road 9 miles to the Trout Creek Trailhead. Proceed on the Main Trout Creek and West Trout Creek Trail to Trout Lake. The Continental Divide Trail (Forest Trail 813) can be seen south and above Trout Lake as it traverses the fabled knife edge.

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

Current Conditions & Trip Reports
Snowed in Updated: 2000-05-09 10:33:00.0

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Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Backpacking Between the Knife Edge and Piedra Pass; Goose Lake
ICON Fishing Goose Lake
ICON Hiking & Walking Continental Divide - Sawtooth Mountain to Knife Edge Trail
ICON Horseback Riding From the Knife Edge to Piedra Pass, the trail goes is like a roller coaster

Related Activities
Goose Creek Trail - The trail grade is gradual for most of the 11 miles that it parallels Goose Creek. Good camping areas abound along the trail.

Highland Trail - Some people prefer to use the Hunters Lake trail (Forest Trail 800) which goes straight toward the Stairsteps. The Stairsteps are another scenic attraction of the Weminuche Wilderness.

Hope Creek Trail - This trail goes from timbered land along the creek to high alpine areas at the base of Sawtooth Mountain. The last 1/2 mile is above timberline and offers magnificent scenery.

Ivy Creek Trail - The Ivy Creek trail provides the shortest, quickest routs to Goose Lake from the Rio Grande Drainage. From Ivy Creek Campground, hikers should plan a very full day of exercise to get to Goose Lake.

Texas Creek Trail - The Texas Creek Trail is lightly used and provides access to the popular Ruby Lake area and Trout Lake. From Big Ruby Lake either this trail or Red Lakes Trail (#889) will provide access to Red Lakes and Trout Lake.

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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