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Telluride Trails: Hiking Passes, Loops, and Summits of Southwest Colorado (Pruett)by Don J. Scarmuzzi
Synopses & Reviews
This is a handy pocket guide for the day hiker with easy-to-follow directions to the high country and peaks surrounding Telluride and beyond. Helpful maps are included at the beginning of each chapter. Many of the seventy-five hikes are illustrated with photos along with listings of elevation, distance, time, and ease of trails to help travelers through their journey.
Chapter 2 NORTHWEST TELLURIDE
DEEP CREEK TRAIL 418 10,620 feet
VERTICAL: 1540 feet hiking; 1875 feet mountain bike Loop from Telluride.
DISTANCE: 6 miles one way on Deep Creek Trail alone, plus Mill Creek Road or Last Dollar Road and CO-145 for the short drive or bike to the trailheads on either end of the trail from Telluride. As an Opt a couple shorter Loops leave Deep Creek Trail for Dons Loop or the Eider Creek Trail (fun bike downhill) and will take you back to your vehicle at the water treatment plant on the E end of the trail.
TIME: 3½-4 hours hiking from the top of Mill Creek Road to Last Dollar Road, plan for transportation as the Deep Creek Trail only goes one way.
EASE: 3, long walk, steeper by Mill Creek, Dons Loop is a more difficult bushwhack, Eider Creek Loop is fairly easy. Look at the end of the Chapter for those 2.
TRAILHEAD: One mile W of Telluride turn right on Mill Creek Road past the gas station and the Brown Homestead, and 2WD the dirt road, steeper and narrow to begin, 10 minutes up to the water treatment plant. The W side of the trail begins at the Deep Creek-Whipple Mountain TH and parking lot on Last Dollar Road a mile from the airport (see S-8).
ROUTE: Start the bigger Loop from town if you are mountain biking. Take the Bike Path W of town to the airport road to Last Dollar Road, and go one mile down to the Deep Creek-Whipple Mountain TH. Both ends of the trail are a bit steeper. From the E side of the Deep Creek Trail at the water treatment plant, hikers should go left up the Mill Creek-Deep Creek Trail about 15-20 minutes and continue left at the Deep Creek sign and intersection. To the right is the Waterline Trail, which traverses over to the E side of the Sneffels Highline Trail. Follow the trail up the steepest part including some switchbacks and then go through a big meadow. Back into the trees for a half mile you come up to the W start of the Sneffels Highline Trail and signage. By-the-by this little ridge is also the high point on the Deep Creek Trail. Continue along the Deep Creek Trail and traverse as far as you want. If you decide to go all the way to the end at the parking and TH on Last Dollar Road, remember to arrange for a ride. Or get back to your car with 2 Loop possibilities from the signage/intersection in Dons Loop or the Eider Creek Trail.
There are a couple of signs on the Deep Creek Trail and the route is obvious unless theres fresh snow on it. This marvelous path traverses below Iron Mountain and Campbell Peak, and above Aldasoro and Sunnyside Ranches through the high alpine forest and seemingly endless aspens most of the way on a fairly steady grade compared to most trails in the area.
WHIPPLE MOUNTAIN TRAIL 419-WHIPPLE MOUNTAIN 11,550 feet; 11,922 feet
VERTICAL: 2470 feet and 3122 feet from the bottom of Last Dollar Road near the airport; 970 feet and 1329 feet from the top of Last Dollar Road, parking at the highest switchback.
DISTANCE: 8 miles RT, 9 miles RT for summit; around 13 miles one way driving to the Whipple Mountain TH on the last switchback near the top of Last Dollar Road from Telluride (also consider Deep Creek Road 3½ miles down valley from Society Turn, across from the highway maintenance igloo, for a slightly shorter drive), but only 3 miles hiking RT including the summit.
TIME: 2½-3 hours up to the saddle; 1 hour to the saddle from the top of Last Dollar Road plus 35-45 minutes 2WD high-clearance each way; 1 hour RT from the saddle for the peak.
EASE: 3/5, longer, steeper from the bottom of Last Dollar Road; 2/5, loose and steady up but short (the drive is harder!), route-finding to summit.
TRAILHEAD: Parking lot on Last Dollar Road 1 mile past the airport turnoff at the Deep Creek-Whipple Mountain TH and sign, or near the top of Last Dollar Road before Alder Creek Trail at Whipple Mountain Trail 419 about 35-45 minutes in 2WD high-clearance or even 4WD.
ROUTE: From the main TH and dirt parking area past the airport on the right off Last Dollar Road take the gentle trail to the left. After 10 minutes in the open meadow the trail heads back into the woods and levels out to the sign and intersection at Sheep Creek. Go left away from Sheep Creek on the flats, then down past the newer sign for Whipple Mountain Trail and an old sign that says the Whipple Mountain Trail begins in 2 miles. Continue down to the NE briefly and cross Deep Creek (E Fork) over a log bridge. Pass the old road, Deep Creek East Fork/Iron Mountain Road on the right. Follow the horse path down to the W slightly and make a sharp right turn onto the official trail. Its easy to miss this leaving you on a “closed to public” trail that makes its way back to the low corner on Last Dollar Road in no time at all…There is a sign indicating the closure and private property signs down on Last Dollar Road. Continue across from a huge rolling meadow and pond and then go back into the woods along the creek.
Five minutes past the Sneffels Wilderness sign, cross the creek over logs just downstream. If its too high go up Deep Creek about 100 feet to carefully go over a convenient pine tree crossing the creek, then find the trail down a bit and up to the right. Walk up to a big switchback and go through the thinning forest to a clearing. A sign and trail posts will direct you left through the clearing to continue on the Whipple Trail. Hike N and NW up gradual switchbacks on a steep and rocky hillside opposite Whipple Mountain whilst keeping it in your sights. This is the toughest part of the day. Finally hike back into the woods up to the high saddle and sign below the summit.
Your choices from here are as follows: Go down the way you came. Views up Ruffners rough ridge are outstanding. Hike 30 minutes more to the top of Whipple Mountain, climb up the much steeper Hawnshawn Mountain, or walk 30 minutes down to the top of Last Dollar Road (plan transportation because its a long way back to the parking area or Telluride from up there and there is very little traffic for hitchhiking). For Whipple Mountain turn left (S) near the middle of the saddle. If you are taking the Alt up from the top of Last Dollar Road, go right (S) at the main saddle. The walk up from the Whipple Mountain TH at the last switchback on the top of Last Dollar Road is a leisurely stroll with many semi-loose switchbacks on a medium grade, finally coming up to the saddle SW through the woods.
Just into the trees is a big downed evergreen that obscures a faint trail on the other side, slightly SE or left. Follow this until it fades and bushwhack up. Angle left steeply, NE of the summit on that little ridge perhaps. You may have to cross several downed
trees along the way, less if you do it right. The big, grassy summit area is barely above tree line making it totally worth the walk!
About the Author
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 FAR NORTHWEST TELLURIDE
Chapter 2 NORTHWEST TELLURIDE
Chapter 3 NORTH TELLURIDE
Chapter 4 FAR NORTH TELLURIDE (Ridgway-Ouray-Montrose)
Chapter 5 NORTHEAST TELLURIDE
Chapter 6 EAST TELLURIDE
Chapter 7 SOUTHEAST TELLURIDE
Chapter 8 TOWN and SOUTH TELLURIDE
Chapter 9 FAR SOUTH TELLURIDE (Ophir-Silverton-Durango)
Chapter 10 FAR SOUTHWEST TELLURIDE (Rico-Cortez-Durango)
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