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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Kilpacker Trail, CO

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Guide 3 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List CO > Southwest
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4
4 of 5 by 2
 
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Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Distance One Way 3.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 10,084 feet
Elevation Gain 255 feet
Accumulated Gain 694 feet
Kokopelli Seeds 5.81
Interest Perennial Waterfall, Perennial Creek & Peak
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Will recalculate on button tap!
16  2015-09-16
Cross Mountain Trail #637
nonot
96  2013-09-27
Colorado Fall Colours 2013
Randal_Schulhaus
91  2012-09-29
Colorado Fall Colours 2012
Randal_Schulhaus
Author HAZ_Hikebot
author avatar Guides 16,882
Routes 16,052
Photos 24
Trips 1 map ( 6 miles )
Age 22 Male Gender
Location TrailDEX, HAZ
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Preferred   Jul, Aug, Jun, Sep
Sun  5:52am - 6:23pm
Official Route
 
0 Alternative
 
Water

Likely In-Season!
Overview: Kilpacker Trail is an alternate route leading to Navajo Lake from the south side of the Lizard Head Wilderness, near Telluride in southwest Colorado.


The Navajo Lake Trail head is about 1.2 miles to the west. The two trails run parallel to the north for about three miles. The Kilpacker Trail provides access to the Kilpacker Creek Basin for those attempting to climb El Diente, at 14,159 feet, one of the Colorado 14ers. El Diente is a tooth shaped peak just to the north of Mt. Wilson, also a 14er.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2018-07-14 HAZ_Hikebot

    One-Way Notice
    This hike is listed as One-Way.

    When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Most recent Triplog Reviews
    Kilpacker Trail
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Backpacking in the Lizard Peak Wilderness. Steep and tough trails, but with amazing views.

    Day 1: Up Cross Mountain Trail, to Lizard Head trail, and down Bilk Creek trail and along Wilson Mesa. 16 miles. Bilk Creek trail is amazing and probably was the best part of the entire trip. Wilson Mesa is extremely mucky due to allowing motorcycles during the summer, which tear it up.

    Day 2: Climb to Rock of Ages TH, then up Rock of Ages to Elk Ridge trail and onto Navajo Lake. I had high hopes for this day, but the people who routed the Elk Ridge trail should be shot. The trail adds a ton of unnecessary elevation for what would otherwise be a nice trail along the treeline. Navajo lake is nice but it gets very cold as the sun sets and the cold air tries to leave the basin.

    Day 3: Climbed Wilson Peak, met several people who almost died sliding off the mountain on snow. With being really close the the peak, so that I could probably hit it with a rock, encountered an icy patch, and turned around about 100 yards from the true summit, the trail routing to Wilson Peak is a complete disaster, for being a popular 14K'er.

    Day 4: Down Navajo Lake Trail and Kilpacker and Groundhog Stock trail back to the vehicle.

    This is a decent loop that packs a lot of elevation. The horrible trail routing makes the trails way too steep, you can observe many places where people and horses are sliding/falling and probably horses are breaking their legs. It seems that the goal of the wilderness trail routers is to ensure every uphill section is at least 30% grade, especially when it is scree on hardpack. Why bother creating an extra switchback when you can simply discourage anyone from travelling the trail in the first place.

    Except for Wilson Mesa, which is muddy and depressing, the wilderness is very nice and even dayhikers should find many of these trails accessible from nearby trailheads.
    Kilpacker Trail
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Colorado Fall Colours 2013
    Colorado Fall Colours - September 2013


    Prelude:

    For those that know me, I’m in the habit of booking a quarterly “wilderness adventure” months in advance so I can work my schedule around the dates.

    Q1-2013 was the “Salt River Canyon Wilderness Trek” (check out http://hikearizona.com/photoset=24440 )
    Q2-2013 was the “Colorado San Juan Mountains Trek” (check out http://hikearizona.com/photoset=25725 )
    Q3-2013 was the “Himalayan CardioRenal Screening Project & Trek” (check out http://hikearizona.com/photoset=26703 ) – still have photos from Stok Kangri Trek, Delhi, and Agra to post!

    The plan was to also add a “Colorado Fall Colours” trek in Q3 using last year (check out http://hikearizona.com/photoset=21834 ) for timing guidance…


    Thursday 9/26
    Route plan per Google Maps indicates 7 hrs 22 minutes to travel 455 miles from Ahwatukee to Danzl Cottage on Dolores River via Tuba City.
    Any time gained leaving work at a decent time and getting on the road before 4pm was lost waiting an hour trying to climb up I-17 to sunset point (major accident closed the highway until it was cleared).
    Burg in Flagstaff and on the Rez by 7pm where we were greeted by a steady rain all the way to the cottage on the Dolores River between Dolores and Telluride.
    Rain on the cottage roof made for a soothing song to put us to sleep after the long drive from the Valley to the San Juan Mountains.
    FITBIT data; 4.46 miles, 36 floors

    Friday 9/27
    I had Disappointment Valley on my radar as a nearby location known for wild horses – this isn’t a political statement, but check out BLM Disappointment Valley/Spring Creek Basin (http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/fo/sjplc/wild_horses.html ) and the musical celebrity laden movie on Disappointment Valley wild horses (Watch the 12 minute “Wild Horses & Renegades” video trailer at :next: http://theamericanwildhorse.com/ and http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1532296/ ). Abort near Spring Creek Basin due to excessive mud! snow! and threatening rain/sleet/snow clouds...
    Afternoon take West Dolores Loop for fall colours - turned out to be winter snow scene loop!
    $4.64 per gallon gas in Rico - Yikes!
    BBQ a couple of New York strip steaks back at Danzl Cottage FITBIT data; 6.21 miles, 19 floors (10 ft/floor)


    Saturday 9/28
    Plan to redux Dallas Divide, Double RL Ranch hay rolls, and onto CR7 for beaver dams and Blue Lake Trail hike. If time permits, sundown at Woods Lake.
    FROSTY morning - 28 deg F according to my truck (failed to get photo evidence)
    Actually start with awesome coffee in Rico at the little shack on east side of town - blows Starbucks away with a $2 cup.
    Stop at Lizard Head Pass for photo op.
    Stop at Sunshine scenic overlook on SR145. Aspen on Wilson Peak are still green - major let down :( :( :(
    Take Lynn to Ophir - get some colours :) :) :)
    Gas up in Teluride - Chrissy photo op by the Minersaur!
    Stop at Last Dollar Road off of SR62 - plenty of photo ops, but too much traffic to my liking :( :( :(
    Dallas Divide - still too early for optimum colours.
    CR#9 and a Double R L Ranch - score! Plenty of hay rolls at southern most field. Combine and tractor pick up in action...
    Off to CR#7 - an old reliable that's never failed to please.
    Stop at Jason Hatfield's pond for photo recreation
    Stop at beaver meadow for another photo recreation and lunch
    Hike Blue Lakes Trail
    Back to hay rolls on Double R L Ranch to catch long shadows
    Telluride elk (are these employed by the Chamber of Commerce - they're always at this spot at sunset)
    BBQ some chicken back at the cottage
    FITBIT data; 7.82 miles, 79 floors


    Sunday 9/29
    Plan to get to Alta Lakes and Ghost Town plus Lost Dollar Road and Woods Lake redux. Maybe check out Silver Pick Road...
    Start the day with another cup of awesome coffee in Rico from the "High Ground Coffee Shack". Find out the coffee beans are from Ibis in Utah - will have to check this out - they're that good...
    On to Alta Ghost Town and then Alta Lakes - amazing number of trout visible in Alta Lake - and friendly ducks agreeable to Skippy...
    Check out Mountain Village above Telluride
    On to Woods Lake via Fall Creek Road - disappointing fall colours :( :( :(
    Return via Elk Creek Road onto Wilson Mesa and loop back via Silver Pick Road - Awesome view on Hughes Road - marked this one with geocoded iPhone photo.
    Ilium to Ophir Loop and back to Danzl Cottage
    BBQ some split cheese dogs...
    FITBIT data; 8.16 miles, 63 floors

    Monday 9/30
    Getaway day, close up the cottage per Danzl winterizing instructions.
    Route plan per Google Maps indicates 7 hours 58 minutes to travel 508 miles from Danzl Cottage on the Dolores River to Ahwatukee via Gallup NM.
    FITBIT data; 5.09 miles, 27 floors


    TOTALS
    211 photos on Canon 7D
    323 photos on Canon Rebel XT
    53 photos on iPhone 4S
    587 total photos to sort thru when I get the chance...
    963 miles return Ahwatukee to San Juan Mountains
    Prelude to fall colours (not the peak we were planning/hoping for…)
    Unexpected winter scenes more than compensate!
    28 degF frosty mornings
    Awesome coffee warm-up from High Ground Coffee Shack in Rico CO each morning :next: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Annies-H ... 4149051267
    31.74 miles on FITBIT
    2240 elevation gain (224 floors on FITBIT)







    Sent from my iPad
    Kilpacker Trail
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Colorado Fall Colours 2012
    Colorado Fall Colours 2012

    I'm in the habit of booking a quarterly "wilderness adventure" months in advance so I can work my schedule around the dates. After having my first Colorado Adventure into the San Juan Mountains this past summer (check out :next: http://hikearizona.com/photoset.php?ID=20996 ), I snapped up the offer from one of my Phoenix Coyotes' season ticket partners to use his Colorado Cottage during the height of fall colours. With a 5-day weekend booked the end of September/beginning of October, I began researching primo fall colour photo ops weeks in advance (check out :next: viewtopic.php?t=7211 ) narrowing down to 5 selected shots from various pro's and trying to figure out the exact location they captured their image.

    Image #1 "Highway and Farm near Telluride" by Shane McDermott (check out :next: http://www.shanemcdermottphotography.co ... 2&lb=1&s=A ). Thanks to a tip from the photographer, I was able to confirm location on Airport Road (aka Last Dollar Road) near Telluride and enter GPS coordinates into Google Maps (N 37.952726, W -107.877846). My "interpretation" certainly doesn't do Shane McDermott's wonderful image any justice (check out :next: http://hikearizona.com/photoID=tbd ), but I had fun doing the detective work trying to figure out the location (thanks also to Jake for the Google Maps tip!).

    Image #2 "Hay Rolls near Sneffels Range" by Derek von Briesen (check out :next: http://www.pbase.com/sedonamemories/image/139539899 ). Thanks to a tip from HippyPunkPirate (aka Jake) and others, it turns out that this is an iconic view taken from the Double R L Ranch along Highway 62 near Ridgway. It took a Colorado resident to clue me in that Double R L Ranch, as in Ralph R. Lauren's ranch, is known to everyone in the Ridgeway/Telluride area. Take County Road 9 off of Highway 62 and spot the field near GPS coordinates I entered into Google Maps (N 38.118892, W -107.829008). My "interpretation" certainly doesn't do Derek von Brieson's stellar image any justice (check out :next: http://hikearizona.com/photoID=tbd ), but once again I had fun doing the detective work trying to figure out the location (thanks Jake for the Google tip - Google RRL Ranch images and see what you get...).

    Image #3 "Aspen Stand and Fence near Sneffels Range" by Jason Hatfield (check out :next: http://www.mountainskyphotography.com/colorado ). Hats off to Jason and his most informative eBook "A Photographer's Guide to Colorado's Fall Colors - the Best Locations & How to Photograph Them" (check out :next: http://www.mountainskyphotography.com/ebook.html ), 14 locations are in the San Juan Mountains! Take County Road 7 off of Highway 62 and spot the open field near GPS coordinates I entered into Google Maps (N 38deg 2' 58.42", W 107deg 48' 31.01"). My "interpretation" certainly doesn't do Jason Hatfield's awesome image any justice (check out :next: http://hikearizona.com/photoID=tbd ), but once again I had fun doing the detective work trying to figure out the location (thanks Jason for sharing your inside information - highly recommend if you are heading into the San Juan's to pick up Jason's bargain priced eBook :next: http://www.mountainskyphotography.com/ebook.html ).

    Image #4 "Dallas Divide in the Sneffels Range" by Darren Kilgore (check out :next: http://mycolorado.org/landscapes/san_ju ... large.html ). I found the "Dallas Divide" on the map and noted a Scenic View turnout along Highway 62 between Telluride and Ridgway. Taking a leap of faith, I entered GPS coordinates into Google Maps (N 37.952726_tbd, W -107.877846_tbd) and hoped for the best. Although my "interpretation" certainly doesn't do Darren Kilgore's splendid image any justice (check out :next: http://hikearizona.com/photoID=tbd ), I had fun exchanging thoughts with about 20 other photographers jamming the turnout along Highway 62 trying to capture an image in the waning afternoon light.

    Image #5 "Wilson Mesa Property for Sale - $12,995,000" by unknown realtor (advertisement had photo of San Miguel Mountains reflecting off lake surrounded by flaming yellow aspens - unfortunately no internet link). Armed only with a real estate ad from a Telluride Homes magazine I picked up at a Telluride gas station during my July 2012 visit, I looked for various clues in the photo and the map and could only conclude that this had to be Woods Lake on Wilson Mesa. Taking another leap of faith, I entered GPS coordinates into Google Maps (N 37.952726_tbd, W -107.877846_tbd) and marked a route along Fall Creek Road that seemed to connect to Woods Lake. Although my "interpretation" doesn't justify the real estate asking price (check out :next: http://hikearizona.com/photoID=tbd ), I had fun meeting a photographer from Maryland (sorry, forgot your name!) also trying to capture the perfect reflection off the lake.


    DAY #1 - Saturday 9/29 After a Friday airplane commute to and from our Diabetes division in Northridge CA, I headed on the road early Saturday to start a 5-day weekend with Lynn and the dogs at the Danzl Cottage along the Dolores River between Dolores CO and Telluride CO. Lynn packed everything we needed except some choice Colorado brews. Stopping at the Dolores Liquor Store, I picked up a 6 pack of Dark Lager by Durango Brewing Company (Durango CO) and 90 Shilling Ale by O'Dell Brewing Company (Fort Collins CO). I thought it was strange that none of the Dolores Brewery or Telluride Brewery beers were available here. Arriving at the Danzl Cottage with about an hour of daylight, I got the well pump primed and the hot water tank filled (while evacuating all the airlocks) and the electric heats plugged in and fired-up (low of 29degF forecast for tonight). With the cottage up and running, time to focus on tonight's BBQ dinner - burgs and dogs...


    DAY #2 - Sunday 9/30 After rustling up breakfast of maple sausages and eggs on the BBQ, we loaded up the F-150 and headed along Hwy 145 and the Dolores River Valley towards Telluride. There were multiple stops along the way taking in the riot of colour. Hard to judge if we missed the peak, some trees were bare, some were still green, others where ablaze in yellows and golds. Arriving in Telluride, we headed up Airport Road to find "Image #1" location to re-create Shane McDermott's "Highway and Farm near Telluride". As we rounded the first bend to the north, it was found! Near the Telluride Airport, the road becomes Last Dollar Road (IMO - a fall colour "must" route). We found a roadside clearing onto a bench outcrop that made for a perfect lunch location - mountain views, fall colours, perfect temperatures! After a Tibber-mode flurry of photo stops, we popped out onto Hwy 62 and headed east towards County Road #9 and the Double RL Ranch. Hay rolling was in progress, but not in the field captured by Derek von Briesen in "Image #2". I did find another field with the hay rolls in situ to create my own composition. Next on the list was County Road #7 to recreate "Image #3" by Jason Hatfield. CO#7 has a number of choice locations noted in Jason Hatfield's eBook and I think I found them all. With the sun beginning to set, we left CO#7 and headed back to Telluride (also discovering the Dallas Divide scenic viewpoint on Hwy 62 and recreating "Image #4"). With an alpenglow on the peaks, had enough light to show Lynn Bridal Veil Falls and downtown Telluride. It must have been 10pm when we got back to the Danzl Cottage and fired up the BBQ for our evening meal in the glow of the full moon. There was a strange banshee screaming at the moon - a bobcat in heat?
    Hike of the Day :next: Dolores River Trail (actually an abandoned bridge and section of old Hwy 145 near Rico CO) ~5 miles.


    DAY #3 - Monday 10/1 Perfect weather in the forecast again as we headed to Durango and up the Million Dollar Highway to Silverton. Animas Forks Ghost Town was the objective of the day - thwarted by a misplaced boulder hitting my skid plate and damaging an airflow/sound barrier plate. Unable to do a field repair, we heading back to Silverton to the lone garage mechanic for miles around. We removed the off-road customized airflow/sound barrier plate and were on our way. Adjusting our plans, we headed north on Hwy 555 towards Mineral Creek and Kendal Camp Ground for lunch. Next up, the Red Mountain Mining Area followed by Ouray, Ridgeway, and another stop at the Dallas Divide (another "Image #4" recreation attempt). Our adjusted plans allowed us to tour Fall Creek Road and the Wilson Mesa area in search of Woods Lake. To my great surprise, there was ample signage to Woods Lake where I made numerous attempts at recreating "Image #5". With all 5 of my "pre-work" images now in the bag (or on the FLASH card), it was time to drive back to Danzl Cottage and a choice steak waiting to be BBQ'd...
    Hike of the Day :next: Woods Lake Campground Trail ~5 miles. Check out :next: http://www.fs.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsint ... Campground


    DAY #4 - Tuesday 10/2 Today's agenda includes CR38/Township Route 535 (aka Dunton Road - IMO another Fall colour "must" route) and the Lizard Head Wilderness area. With multiple photo ops along the route, we decided to take a lunch break on top of Stoner Mesa via CR-M/FR875 (aka Stoner Mesa Road). I found a meadow/camp area on the top of Stoner Mesa surrounded by aspen stands on every side where we broke out the tailgating chairs and had lunch. IMO - Stoner Mesa Road had the BEST Fall colours of any route we had been on during our 5-day weekend. We had time to hike a few miles towards Navajo Lake from the Kilpacker TH and The Meadows. Great views of the San Miguel Mountains and the Lizard Head Wilderness area!
    Hike of the Day :next: Kilpacker Trail ~5 miles (intersects with Navajo Lake Trail http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=13715 ). Check out :next: http://4cornershikestell.blogspot.com/2 ... trail.html


    DAY #5 - Wednesday 10/3 Getaway Day - back home to the Valley heat in Ahwatukee. Quite the contrast being treated to 5 days of 72degF Hi and 29degF Lo in the Colorado San Juan Mountains...


    MUCHO GRACIAS to the Danzl Family for the use of their Colorado Cottage on the Dolores River
    Many elk, deer, mountain goats, beaver, and bald eagles
    No TV, internet, or cell phone reception
    1 tank of gas from Phoenix to Colorado
    5-days in the San Juan Mountains
    420 images on 2 cameras
    Spectacular fall colours
    Perfect weather
    Priceless!

    Permit $$
    None


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    page created by Randal_Schulhauser on Oct 06 2012 12:10 am
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