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This is a long trail that goes over some beautiful high terrain with stunning mountain and lake views.


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Map Key

15.3

Miles

24.6

KM

Point to Point

13,331' 4,063 m

High

9,349' 2,850 m

Low

4,293' 1,309 m

Up

4,689' 1,429 m

Down

11%

Avg Grade (6°)

65%

Max Grade (33°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Fall Colors · Lake · Views

This route requires class 2 to class 3 scrambling.

Overview

Pretty long trail that goes through forests, talus fields, past giant peaks and a beautiful lake, essentially this trail gives you a little bit of everything!

Description

Drive Sunshine Mesa Road to the end. 4WD or AWD recommended; the road gets pretty gnarly at times. This is a good thru-hike or run, meaning dropped off at the start of Wilson Mesa trailhead and get picked up at Navajo Basin trailhead. The drive around only takes about an hour, so a shuttle or a drop off is the best option. Due to some of the terrain, this isn't a great hike to do as an out-and-back.

From the end of the road, you start on the Wilson Mesa Trail in a beautiful mixed forest of pine and aspen trees. About 1 mile in at the first junction, stay straight for the Lizard Head Trail. You may see some elk in here if you're lucky.

After about 2.25 miles, there is a big rock slope and you'll likely lose the trail. Find a place to cross the creek that is on your right and you'll find the trail again. You can cross the creek before or after the rocky slope. It might be a little easier to cross the rock field and then cross the creek, but either works.

There's a campsite just a little further on. Next you'll pass some beautiful waterfalls and cascades that are lovely to see and to hear too. Around 4.25 miles in you get into some tall willows, but the path through them is pretty defined. You start seeing some big mountains around you as you gain elevation here. You can see Lizard Head to the east and some of the Wilson group to the west.

After you've gone 4.75 miles and you reach another junction, turn right. If you can't find the trail in the switchbacks, look for the cairns, or look at your GPS. There is quite a bit of talus as you're heading towards Wilson Peak after the switchbacks and the trail can be hard to follow in some spots, but if you are going the general direction of the trail, you'll be just fine.

Getting to the top of the ridge means you either climb super loose Class 2 or more solid Class 3. It's a fairly short section but there's no way around it. From the top of the ridge, you can add in a 1 mile round-trip hike over to the summit of Wilson Peak, but that is a bit more involved Class 3. Make sure you've done your research on that route if you're planning to add it on.

Otherwise continue on towards the ridge and then drop down into the basin. Once you've done that, there is a good rock trail and large cairns for miles. Towering over you on your left side are two awesome 14ers, Mount Wilson and El Diente.

The trail goes past Navajo Lake, which is a great spot for camping, fishing and cooling off. It is very picturesque to see the lake nestled in amongst giant peaks. After the lake, go uphill for a little ways before finally making the long descent to the Navajo Basin trailhead.

Shared By:

Ashley Peterson

Trail Ratings

  4.0 from 1 vote

#12

in Telluride

#4435

Overall
  4.0 from 1 vote
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Recommended Route Rankings

#12

in Telluride

#525

in Colorado

#4,435

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Photos

After gaining the ridge, you can see where you're headed.
Oct 31, 2023 near Mountai…, CO
Navajo Lake.
Oct 31, 2023 near Rico, CO
Early section of trail.
Oct 31, 2023 near Mountai…, CO
Getting up towards the ridge.
Oct 31, 2023 near Mountai…, CO
The climb to the saddle below Wilson Peak.
Oct 31, 2023 near Mountai…, CO
Trail is easy to follow in the Navajo Basin.
Oct 31, 2023 near Rico, CO

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