Published with permission from the guide book: Mellow Mountain Trails Hiking Guide to Colorado’s Upper Arkansas River Valley
by Nathan Ward.
Lost Wonder Hut
Starting in the small town of Garfield, this route follows an old mining road that traces the path of Middle Fork Creek. The destination is the Lost Wonder Hut, the only mountain hut in the Lower Arkansas River Valley. The road is quite steep in places, although it levels out considerably after the first half mile. At the hut, the terrain opens up for big views of Mount Aetna (13,745 ft.), Clover Mountain (12,955 ft.) and Vulcan Mountain (12, 973ft.)
The hut is a good base for more day hikes in the area, including the excellent trail that climbs to the summit of Chalk Pass just to the north (N38 36.38, W106 21.05). It sleeps 10 and has solar power. To make a reservation, visit www.lostwonderhut.com.
Trailhead Access & Facilities
From the junction of US 50 and US 285 in Poncha Springs, turn north and drive west on US 50 for 12.7 miles up Monarch Pass. Park directly across from the Monarch Lodge on the north side of the highway. Walk 0.1 mile up the pass and turn right on CR/FSR 230. There is a sign here for the Boss Lake Trailhead. The mileage starts here, at the sign.
You’ll find water, pit toilets and cooking facilities at the hut. Bring your own food and sleeping bag.
Location: Monarch Pass
Distance: 5.2 Miles – Out and Back
Hiking Time: 3-4 Hours
Best Months: May through October
Trail Type: 4-Wheel Drive Road
Dog Friendly: Yes
Elevation in Feet: Low Point 9,657; High Point 10,878; Climbs/Descends 1,221
Land Status: San Isabel National Forest, Private
Maps: Trails Illustrated #130, 139
0.0 Trailhead – Boss Lake sign. Head uphill on the 4WD road following the sign pointing to the Boss Lake Trail (N39 33.16, W106 17.83).
0.1 Cross the old railroad grade and continue straight ahead. During the first part of this tour, several other small roads take off to the sides – do not take any of them and always stay on CR/FSR 230.
1.2 At this intersection, the Boss Lake Trail goes left; stay on CR/FSR 230 to the right. This is also part of the Continental Divide Trail (CDT). Just past this, stay to the right going uphill.
1.9 Stay right on the CDT.
2.1 At this intersection go left. After another 25 yards you come to another intersection, go right and stay on the CDT.
2.4 At this point, cross the very bottom of the avalanche run-out from Mount Aetna. The peak to the left is Mount Clover.
2.5 Pass two USFS cabins – very rustic but free. About 30 yards past the cabins, cross a small stream. Just upstream in the creek is a plastic hose with running water – a good place to get water. Boil it or treat it before you drink it.
2.6 The Lost Wonder Hut! Enjoy the amazing views across the valley – the peaks get great light in the morning. (N38 34.32, W106 19.77)
Follow the same road back to the trailhead.
5.2 Back at the trailhead.
The Colorado backcountry is popular – bikers, hikers, motorcycle riders, hunters and equestrians use the trail system in the Arkansas Valley, and everyone wants a private piece of heaven. Even if you don’t agree with everyone’s motives or methods of travel, please treat them in a courteous manner.
If you require search and rescue services, it can be costly. Buy a Colorado Outdoor Recreation Search and Rescue (CORSAR) card to protect yourself. Funds from the CORSAR program go into the Colorado Search and Rescue (SAR) Fund. If a CORSAR card holder becomes lost or injured in the backcountry, the Colorado SAR Fund pays eligible search and rescue expenses.
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