Hinsdale County CO has been designated the most remote county in the lower 49 states by the USGS, based on roadless area. The 1,123 square mile county is 96% public land with half of that designated Wilderness or Wilderness Study Area. The Continental Divide crosses the county twice, east to west and back again. The county population remains under 850 and the one town and county seat, Lake City has a population of 350. Five 14,000 foot summits are within 15 miles of downtown Lake City. It is located 55 miles north of Creede and 55 miles south of Gunnison on Highway 149.
Hinsdale Haute Route is located just south of Lake City along the Continental Divide. The Sawmill Park Trailhead is about 5 miles south of Lake City. It is a quarter mile above Mile Marker 67 on Highway 149 at the Lake San Cristobal Overlook. The Camp Trail Trailhead is about 10 miles south of Lake City on the Cinnamon Pass Road / Hinsdale County Road 30.
The Slumgullion Earth Flow is visible from the Sawmill Park Trailhead on Highway 149. It is a geologic marvel that everyone, especially families with kids, should be aware of. It is a landslide that occurred about 700 years ago, it flowed from the higher than timberline cliffs visible from the parking lot, down the valley and plugging up the Lake Fork of the Gunnison River valley to form Lake San Cristobal, second largest natural lake in Colorado. Portions of the earthflow still move almost 20 feet per year and Geologists from around the world come to study it.
Winter access is by snowshoe, ski, split board, fat bike or snowmobile. Skiers will need climbing skins.
The Wilson Yurt is 1.25 miles and 500 feet of elevtion gain from the trailhead on Hwy 149 along a groomed multi-use trail. The yurt is 200 yard off of the multi-use trail and snowmobiles are not allowed at the Wilson Yurt. The short distance to the yurt makes it ideal for families and or those traveling hours to arrive at the trailhead. The route is good for beginners, there is no avalanche danger and the route is obvious and easy to follow even in a whiteout.
The first 300 yards from the highway is steep and can be a challenge for yougnsters and folks with heavy packs or sleds. If it is being challenging, take your time, break it into small sections, stop, catch your breath and enjoy the views. There is a slightly less steep option that departs left from the main route near the start. It arrives back at the main route near the top of that first climb. Just above that first climb the groomed multi-use trail joins from your left. Be sure not to miss this turn on the way back down or it will take you to the snowmobile parking lot about a mile above our trailhead.
The trail from the multi-use route is just before Sawmill Park and is marked with a sign. The trail is marked with blue diamonds.
The Colorado Trail Friends Yurt is more difficult to get to. By the Camp Trail it is 6 miles and 2,500 feet of elevation gain. The route from the Sawmill Trailhead past the Wilson Yurt and along the ridge is 6 miles and 2,000 feet of elevation gain. Snowmobiles are allowed at the Colorado Trail Friends Yurt. Route finding near and above timberline can be challenging in a whiteout.
Summer access can be by foot, mountain bike, motor cycle, ATV, 4X4 or horse depending on which yurt your are going to.
The Wilson Yurt is located 200 yards off of the Sawmill Park Road on a hiking biking trail. Parking is available at the beginning of the trail which is located just below Sawmill Park. No motorized access directly to the yurt.
The Colorado Trail Friends Yurt can be accessed by any of the means listed. The Camp Trail, as described above, is for non motorized access only. Motorized access can be gained from three locations on Highway 149: Spring Creek Pass, Powderhorn Gulch and Sawmill Park Road.
Yurts are carpeted and insulated. Wood stove with fire wood rounds, fire starter and matches. Guests are expected to split as much firewood and kindling from the rounds as they burn. Four burner propane stove with oven. Small charcoal grill with charcoal and starter fluid. Propane and battery powered lanterns. Solar led lights and candles. Tables and Chairs. Bunk beds and cots with pads for up to 8 folks. Pots, pans, plates, cups, bowls, utensils, cutting boards, everything needed to prepare, serve and clean up for up to 8 folks. Kitchen sink area with a bucket that needs to emptied outside, away from the yurt. We provide dish soap, sponges, scrubbies and handywipes. Large pots for melting snow in winter, on wood stove or propane stove or both. Tools include splitting maul, hatchet, a set of fireplace tools, snow shovel, broom, dust pan and whisk broom. We also provide toilet paper. The supply of split wood and kindling inside should be replenshed by splitting more from the firewood stack outside.
Yes. However we ask that pet owners be responsible and do not leave doggie doo laying along commonly traveled paths. We also ask that you help clean the carpet with the battery powered vacuum provided. Spare batteries should be available if needed (if not, please let us know). We love dogs but we need your help with accumulating dog hair on the carpet.
Winter users melt snow using provided containers on wood stove and or propane stove.
Note: don't melt yellow snow, duh. Many hut systems do not allow dogs for this concern. We have found that some people are no more discriminating than dogs. Just don't melt yellow snow...
Summer users at the Wilson Yurt need to haul their own water. There is no spring or creek close.
Summer users at the Colorado Trail Friends Yurt will find a spring below the Colorado Trail in the middle of the meadow below the yurt. Flowing water and beaver ponds develop farther down the drainage.