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Hiking & Walking: Colorado > White River National Forest > Eagle Ranger District

Quick Facts

Sweetwater Trail

Average Time: 5-6 Hours
Beginning Elevation: 8,000 Feet (2493.8 Meters)
Difficulty: More Difficult
Elevation Gain, One-way: 1,700 Feet (529.9 Meters)
Ending Elevation: 9,700 Feet (3023.7 Meters)
Length, One-way: 7.5 Miles (12.5 Kilometers)
Recommended Season: May-November
Trail Number: 1854
Usage: Heavy
USGS Maps: Sweetwater Lake, Deep Lake


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Satellite and Topo Map




General Description

This fairly level, easy-to-follow trail follows the north rim of Sweetwater Canyon. It begins as a slight uphill grade through scrub oak and sagebrush. At 2 miles it enters aspen interspersed with grassy meadows. The trail descends at 3 miles to cross the Sweetwater Creek. There is no bridge, so crossing on foot can be difficult during high runoff. After the creek crossing, the trail climbs up through aspen mixed with fir and large meadows. It levels out crossing a south-facing slope. The trail continues through aspen/fir for the next 2 miles before reaching the marshy areas of the beaver ponds at the head of the Dry Sweetwater Creek. The trail ends at the Indian Camp Pass and connects onto the Trappers Lake trail, #1816.

SPECIAL INTERESTS
SCENERY - This trail offers some spectacular scenery and photography opportunities its entire length. There are beautiful views of the snowcapped peaks of the Sawatch Range, Sweetwater Lake and canyon and the high cliffs of the Flattops.

WILDLIFE - Various species of wildlife are often visible during the early morning or evening hours all along the trail. Mule deer, elk, black bear, coyotes, pocket gophers, mountain bluebirds and house wrens may be seen.

Directions from Eagle: Go 12 miles west on I-70 to the Dotsero exit. Follow signs for Sweetwater turning north onto the Colorado River road. Go 7 miles, turn left onto the Sweetwater Creek road. Stay on this road for 11.2 miles. Limited parking for vehicles is available near the cabins of the Sweetwater Wilderness Ranch. Another small parking lot, accessible by 4-wheel drive only, is located another 1/4 mile up at Hilltop Ranch. From Hilltop Ranch, go through the gate and hike up 1/4 mile on this connecting trail to the beginning of the Sweetwater Trail. There are no facilities at the trailhead.

Directions from Vail: Go 43 miles west on I-70 to the Dotsero exit. Follow signs for Sweetwater turning north onto the Colorado River road. Go 7 miles, turn left onto the Sweetwater Creek road. Stay on this road for 11.2 miles. Limited parking for vehicles is available near the cabins of the Sweetwater Wilderness Ranch. Another small parking lot, accessible by 4-wheel drive only, is located another 1/4 mile up at Hilltop Ranch. From Hilltop Ranch, go through the gate and hike up 1/4 mile on this connecting trail to the beginning of the Sweetwater Trail. There are no facilities at the trailhead.

Directions from Beaver Creek: Go 43 miles west on I-70 to the Dotsero exit. Follow signs for Sweetwater turning north onto the Colorado River road. Go 7 miles, turn left onto the Sweetwater Creek road. Stay on this road for 11.2 miles. Limited parking for vehicles is available near the cabins of the Sweetwater Wilderness Ranch. Another small parking lot, accessible by 4-wheel drive only, is located another 1/4 mile up at Hilltop Ranch. From Hilltop Ranch, go through the gate and hike up 1/4 mile on this connecting trail to the beginning of the Sweetwater Trail. There are no facilities at the trailhead.

Seasonal Information:
Recommended Season: May through November .



Current Conditions & Trip Reports
Updated: 2001-06-26 14:45:00.0


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Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Backpacking
Yes
ICON Hiking & Walking Sweetwater Trail
Yes
ICON Horseback Riding Sweetwater and other area trails.
Yes
ICON Viewing Scenery This trail offers beautiful scenery and photographic opportunities along its entire length.
Yes



Related Activities
Sweetwater General Forest Area - The Sweetwater General Forest Area includes the Sweetwater Creek drainage, northwest of Eagle and Gypsum. It takes in the southeast end of the Flat Tops Wilderness.

Sweetwater Lake Campground - This campground sits in the bottom of a deep valley at an elevation of 7,740 feet, on the edge of Sweetwater Lake.



More Information

Visitor Information:

Eagle Valley Chamber of Commerce , Eagle, CO, 81631, Phone: 970-328-5220

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