High mountain meadows
The Chesley Flat Trail begins in a picturesque meadow high in the Pinaleno Mountains where an old dairy farm run by the Chesley family was located. It is one of four different routes to the top of 10,000 foot Webb Peak. This trail is seldom used and is especially difficult to follow on its top half, due in part to fire line construction which obliterated parts of the trail.
Consequently, you will need some route finding skills. A topographical map and gps are helpful. Also, the section of the Swift Trail that accesses the Chesley Flat area is closed to traffic from November 15 to April 15, due to heavy snowfall. Look for the historical marker along the Swift Trail as soon as you enter the Chesley Flat meadow, as this is where the Chesley Flat Trail begins. The approximate gps coordinates for the trailhead are: 32 degrees 42.951' N, 109 degrees 56.379' W.
From Chesley Flat, begin following the unsigned but well defined path along the meadow's eastern edge as it heads for the trees. A short distance after entering the dense forest of engelmann spruce, you will arrive at a signed trail junction for the Chesley Flat Trail #311 and Blair Canyon Trail #304, near an aspen tree with a large tumor-like growth. The trail signs for the Chesley Flat Trail indicate it is 2 miles to the top of Webb Peak, but it is actually closer to 1.5 miles. Leave the Blair Canyon Trail behind, and turn right on the Chesley Flat Trail. The trail now begins ascending the west side of Webb Peak through a forest of spruce and aspen. After a steady climb up a drainage, the trail arrives at the southern edge of the 2004 Nuttall Fire. The trail, which is well defined up to this point, disappears among the burned areas, grassy meadows and woody debris left over from fire crews cutting a fire line to stop the Nuttall Fire's progress. Use the fire line as your trail marker, and follow it as it climbs higher up the western ridge of Webb Peak. It's nice to see lots of young aspen shoots and grasses coming up in the burned area. Behind you are views of Grandview Peak and the Pinaleno ridgeline. At about the 0.75 mile mark, the trail pretty much levels off and follows the pleasant grassy mountain top through open forest, leaving the fire line and log debris behind. On the return hike, this area offers more views of the northern Pinaleno Mountains, and the distant Santa Teresa Mountains.
At around 1.2 miles the Chesley Flat Trail joins up with forest road 88 on a curve in the road. Turn left (uphill) and follow the road for 0.3 miles up to the top of Webb Peak. Just above the end of the road is the Webb Peak fire tower, and 360 degree views. Heading back down, you can return the way you came, or take one of the two branches of the Webb Peak Trail #345 and make a 4+ mile trek back on the Swift Trail to Chesley Flat. Whatever route you choose, it's beautiful!
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.
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.
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