The Popular Gulch Trail leads 6 miles over the mountains between St. Elmo and South Cottonwood Creek. It is an especially scenic trail with outstanding view of the Sawatch Range and its 14,000' peaks. Deer, Elk and mountain sheep may be seen from the trail. Rocky Mountain Goats also range through this area. There are primitive camping sites at either end of the trail.
Copyright: Amy Pyle-Interactive Outdoors, Inc.
The Poplar Gulch Trail leads from South Cottonwood Creek to St. Elmo. The trail is 6 miles one-way.
This description will lead north from St. Elmo, which seems to be the most popular route. The trail begins at a trailhead on the north side of County Road 267A about .25 miles west of St. Elmo. The elevation of this trailhead is 10,100'. The trail climbs from this point as it follows Poplar Gulch. The trail follows the creek for 2.75 miles until it cuts eastward to a 12,310' saddle between 2 peaks. After crossing the saddle the trail switchbacks down some steep terrain and into the South Cottonwood Creek drainage. The trail follows Green Timber Gulch to its northern terminus.
Directions from Nathrop: Southern Access: Drive west on County Rd 162 to St. Elmo; and then turn north on County Road 267 for 1 mile to the trailhead.
Directions from Buena Vista: Northern Access: Take Cottonwood Pass Road (County Road 306) west from Buena Vista. Drive approximately 7 miles to County Road 344. Follow signs for Cottonwood Lake and Cottonwood Campground. Drive past the lake and campsites to the trailhead, approximately 6 miles. Beyond the lake the road becomes rougher and more rocky. Most passenger cars can travel this road if driven slowly and carefully.
July through October .