“An exceptional trail well above treeline that provides the best views in all of Colorado, including the Grenadier Range.
— John Shuttlesworth
Lake · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife · Commonly Backpacked
The Weminuche Wilderness is the largest wilderness area in Colorado at just under 500,000 acres and is home to countless wildlife. As such all users should follow all regulations to ensure this area remains pristine and available for generations to come. Please use Leave No Trace principles and follow all regulations located at wilderness.net/NWPS/wildVie…
The trail starts at Beartown where it crosses the road just east of Kite Lake. You quickly head up the gulch passing through lush meadows of wildflowers and small conifers teeming with small streams and wildlife. If you look to the west after coming out of the forest you'll see an old abandoned mine shack at the base of the mountain. If you choose to investigate observe caution around the area as there are open shafts around the shack that should be given a wide berth. After you pass through the meadows you'll quickly gain elevation and leave behind all forests as you'll continue the remainder of your journey far above treeline. Depending on timing you'll likely pass through many snowfields that will require careful navigation as the trail is easily obscured in many sections.
At mile, 1 as you come out of the gulch you the trail becomes fairly steep and travels on loose soil, so mind your footing. Once you crest the peak, the trail opens up into a wide open world of grassy rolling hills dotted with rocky outcroppings. The next several miles of the trail follow along the ridge line, never ascending or descending more than a couple hundred feet. As stated prior, when snow is present trails can become difficult to follow. The divide trail is marked roughly with wooden posts, so if you become disoriented look for these along the way. Other portions of the trail are well worn and easy to follow. This portion of of the trail is shared with the Colorado Trail so most signage is posted for both trails. Occasionally you'll see an actual sign, but mostly you are likely to see just barren posts.
As you pass the turn-off for the Highland Mary Lakes Trail #606
, you'll begin a gentle descent into a gulch that will lead you down towards the Cunningham Gulch Trail #502
. This section of the trail was the trickiest portion to navigate as it was mostly covered with snow and boulder fields. As you carefully descend the gulch the trail will veer over a small hill and then descend into a large open meadow. If you find yourself in thick brush and marshy areas, you have strayed too far east and should make your way up the large gulch to the west. You'll travel only a short section before you come to an elbow in the trail. This is the starting point of the Cunningham Gulch Trail #502
that leads back to the Highland Mary Lakes Trailhead. Follow the posted signs and continue up the grassy slopes of the divide as you make your way up to the road at Stony Pass.
Flora & Fauna
Summertime is the best time for viewing the many wildflowers that cover the rolling hills of the divide. Likely wildlife sightings would be marmots, ground squirrels, grouse, deer, elk, mountain goats, and bears. While they are wonderful to view give them plenty of room as they are wild animals. Keep the wilderness wild and store your food properly.