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Hiking & Walking: Colorado > Pike and San Isabel National Forests > South Platte Ranger District

Quick Facts

Ben Tyler Trail

Beginning Elevation: 8,270 Feet (2577.9 Meters) Highway 285
Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
Elevation Gain: 3,370 Feet (1050.5 Meters)
Ending Elevation: 9,720 Feet (3029.9 Meters)
Handicapped Accessible: No
High Point: 11,640 Feet (3628.4 Meters)
Length, One-way: 9 Miles (15.0 Kilometers) 14.5 K
Other Elevation: 11,007 Feet (3431.1 Meters) Craig Park Trail junction (mile 5)
Other Maps: Trails Illustrated 105 Tarryall Mountains, Kenosha Pass
Recommended Season: Summer
Trail Number: 606
Usage: Moderate
USGS Maps: Quads: Shawnee, Mt. Logan, Observatory Rock

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

This popular trail is named for Ben Tyler, who lived with his family in the gulch that bears his name. He operated a lumber mill during gold rush days, hauling the sawed timber over the ridge and into Fairplay.

The trail begins along Highway 285 west of Bailey, and extends in a southwest direction also on the west edge of the lost Creek Wilderness Area. Five miles from the highway the trail intersects the west end of Craig Park Trail, 608. Past this trail junction it continues over a saddle in the Kenosha Mountains, then drops down to the southern terminus of the trail near the Rock Creek Cow Camp. While the trail itself is entirely outside of the Wilderness Area you can enter the Lost Creek Wilderness Area by hiking east on the Craig Park Trail from its junction on this Ben Tyler. The trail is open to for and horse travel only, and all of the trail lies below tree line.

Major attractions include the numerous and colorful wildflowers in late spring and early summer. The trail also offers spectacular scenery of the mountain ranges to the north and the changing colors in September. Don't forget your fishing pole. Craig Creek is an excellent fishery for brook trout under seven inches in length.

This narrative covers the first five miles of the trail from Highway 285 to the Craig Park Trail junction. From the trailhead of Highway 285 the trail climbs steeply for the first .4 miles in a series of eleven switchbacks. When you return please do not cut across these switchbacks. After the last switchback the trail becomes less steep up to a stream crossing at mile 2. At this point the trail gradient becomes steeper, climbing 1,800' in the next three miles. There is a sign located 1.1 miles past the stream crossing saying "Craig Park Trail 1.9 miles." Immediately past the sign there is a short path on the right leading from the trail down to the stream and across to a small open area on the north side of the stream. This is one of the few areas along the trail suitable for camping. About 35 minutes past the sign the terrain begins to open into a high-alpine meadow with many varieties of wildflowers. Also, at this point you begin to get spectacular views of a large, continuous stand of aspen to the west and north - a glorious sight when the aspen turn color in late September. The final mile to the Craig Park Trail junction is a series of long switchbacks which, when traversing east, offer spectacular views down Ben Tyler Gulch. The Craig park Trail junction at mile 5 is marked by a sign indicating Craig Park to the left (east) and Rock Creek to the right (west). At this junction you have three options. If you turn left (east) you will enter the Lost Creek Wilderness Area on the Craig Park Trail. The trail continues in a southeasterly direction for 5.8 miles at which point it intersects the Brookside Trail. The second option would be to bear right (west) at the junction and continue on the Ben Tyler Trail up to the saddle (about 700 feet of additional elevation) and down to the Rock Creek Cow Camp trailhead, a distance of 4 miles. As the third option, you can return to the Highway 285 trailhead the way you came. Based on a moderate pace of 2 miles/hour plus periodic rests you will need to allow 2.5 - 3 hours to reach the Craig Park Trail junction at mile 5.

Directions from Bailey: Northern Access: Drive west from Bailey on Highway 285 for 6.6 miles. The trailhead and small parking area will be on the left (south) side of the highway.

Directions from Kenosha Pass: Approximately 2.5 miles west of Kenosha Pass on Highway 285 turn east on the Lost Park Road, which is designated Forest Road 127. Travel about 7 miles and turn left (north) on Forest Road 133 - the Rock Creek Road. Drive almost to the end of the road. Where the road forks stay to the left. The road continues to Rock Creek, but the final portion is rough and with little room to turn around. It is recommended that you park above and walk down to the stream. The trail begins on the west side of Rock Creek.

Seasonal Information:
Normally Open: Late Spring through Late Fall .

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

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Filed By: Travis L (Brighton, CO)
Time of Day: the best part
Length of Time: all day
Difficulty: Hard
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Fairly good trail for horses though extremely rocky and rough. My wife and I rode to the top and back. About 15 miles round trip. Couple good places for water for the horses.
Conditions: Good weather and grazing on top
Water Availability: Couple places for stock
Suggested Accessories: Good shoes on the horses.

Filed By: Jane (Pine, CO)
Time of Day: 11:00 AM
Length of Time: 7 hours
Difficulty: Hard
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Neutral
Report: Living in this area, we have passed the trail head for the Ben Tyler Trail (606) off Rt. 285 numerous times and, finally, decided to give it a try. There is ample parking along both sides of Rt. 285. 1. The 11 switch backs at the trail terminus make the initial elevation gain fairly easy. The trail is fairly flat for the next two miles and eventually follows along side a fast moving stream. Actually, you enter the Lost Creek Wilderness along this lower portion; therefore, this trail can be used for hiking and horse back riding only - no mountain bikes. At about 2 miles, the trail crosses the stream; the elevation gain here was only about 800 feet. 2. And then, the trail gets fairly rocky and begins to steeply climb through a damp aspen grove. The trail follows the stream for about 1 mile and then turns away; except for a few small rivulets, this is the last water on the trail. 3. As you trek up the steep trail, if you look towards your right, you can just see a towering rock cliff face . Further up, you get good views of a whole mountain side covered with aspen; this is the largest grove of aspen I have ever seen and looked to me like it will be absolutely gorgeous this autumn. I did not see a sign that said "Craig Park Trail 1.9 miles". 4. The trail junction with the Craig Park Trail was at 6.25 miles for us, not 5 miles as the write-up says. The elevation gail was 2,700 feet. The fairly new sign now points to where the Craig Park Trail and the Ben Tyler Trail go. 5. The best view of the Ben Tyler gulch is half a mile further along the Ben Tyler Trail. You can see the Bailey school complex, the Snaking Gulch burn, the Platt River valley, and the mountains to the north. Since we normally hike the Mount Evans Wilderness, to us, this was a new aspect of our beautiful area. The towering rock cliff that we looked up at on the way up was now very, very far below us giving us a good idea of just how high we had climbed. 6. The trail continued to steeply snake through a Bristle Cone Pine forest and crossed a fairly flat saddle. The trail becomes fairly indistinct through here. We could see the saddle dropping off and continued along the trail until we could see the view of South Park and the high mountains that edge South Park to the west. 7. After hiking down the steep, rocky trail, one of the best parts of this hike was sitting on a log over the stream and dangling our feet in the cold, cold water. What a treat! I felt refreshed and renewed for the last 2 miles to our car. Our stats: 3,200 feet gain, 15.35 miles, 7 hours, 4 very tired feet.
Conditions: No snow, some water running down the trail, very few insects. This trail is fairly open and very sunny.
Water Availability: we had 4 pints of water which was enough
Recommended Clothing: We wore hiking shorts and midweight hiking boots.
Suggested Accessories: No special gear.

Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Backpacking Ben Tyler Trail
ICON Fishing Ben Tyler Trail - Craig Creek
ICON Hiking & Walking Ben Tyler Trail
ICON Horseback Riding Ben Tyler Trail
ICON Animal Identification Ben Tyler Trail
ICON Bird Identification Ben Tyler Trail
ICON Mushroom Identification Ben Tyler Trail
ICON Plant Identification Ben Tyler Trail
ICON Wildflower Identification Ben Tyler Trail
ICON Viewing Scenery Ben Tyler Trail
ICON Viewing Wildlife Ben Tyler Trail

Related Activities
Colorado Trail (Long Gulch Trailhead to Kenosha Pa - This segment of the Colorado Trail leads users 14 miles from Long Gulch Trailhead to Kenosha Pass. The first few miles are within the Lost Creek Wilderness boundary and closed to mechanized and motorized travel.


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