Published with permission from the guide book:
Skinny Skis and Snowshoes – Guide to Winter Trails in Colorado’s Upper Arkansas Valley by Nate Porter and Nathan Ward.
This guidebook gives detailed information on 25 of the best backcountry ski and snowshoe routes in the Upper Arkansas Valley, with trails for every ability level. If you count all the options presented for each trail, the actual number of routes is closer to 60 without even counting the individual trails at the Nordic centers – that is a lot of skiing. If you’re insatiable and need more, look at the sections titled: Other Areas to Explore. Be insatiable.
SNOWSHOE & NORDIC SKI TRAILS
BUENA VISTA TRAILS
Twin Lakes & Independence Pass
- Denny Creek to Hartenstein Lake
- Cottonwood Pass to the Ptarmigan Lake Road
- Cottonwood Lake to the Poplar Gulch Trail
Saint Elmo & Mount Princeton
- Fooses Creek
- Middle Fork Creek to the Lost Wonder Hut
- Lost Wonder Hut to Chalk Creek Pass
- Waterdog Lakes
- Monarch Park to the Top of Monarch Pass
- Old Monarch Pass
- Monarch Crest Trail to South Fooses Creek
Fooses Creek provides the closest good skiing to Salida with easy to access, gentle terrain. The route leads from just below Fooses Lake to the junction of North and South Fooses Creeks. The trail holds good snow for most of the winter and passes through forests of pine and open meadows. You may encounter wind blown sections higher up in the more exposed open valley, but nothing to worry about.
Trailhead Access: From the intersection of Highways 50 and 285 in Poncha Springs, drive west on US 50 for 9.6 miles. Turn left on CR 225, drive 0.7 miles and park at a plowed lot. This road is often snowy, so passenger cars need to use caution or you may get stuck. If it’s too snowy, park on the side of the highway and ski the extra distance in.
Location: Monarch Pass
Distance: 4.4 Miles – Out & Back
Travel Time: 1.5 – 2 Hours
Type of Trail: Road
Aerobic Level: Moderate
Technical Difficulty: Ski – Novice/Intermediate; Shoe – Novice
Avalanche Danger: Minimal – except near treeline
Elevation in Feet: Low Point 8,874; High Point 9,584; Climbs/Descends 751
Land Status: USFS
Maps: Trails Illustrated #130, #139; USGS Maysville, Garfield
Notes: You may encounter snowmobiles, so keep eyes and ears open.
0.0 Ski down the short hill (38 32.42N, 106 14.72W) and up the road to another hill.
0.2 This is Fooses Lake, really a tiny reservoir feeding the hydroelectric plant downstream. Continue up the road, along the power line. Don’t stray onto the many small spurs to the right or left.
1.1 The road goes to the right of the power line.
1.2 At the split in the road, stay left on CR 225, not 225A
1.4 Stay left.
1.5 Stay right on main road.
1.9 Keep left at the open area, not right toward the power line.
2.2 The North and South Fooses junction (38º31.45N, 106º16.57W) and the turnaround point for the route described here. Left goes to S. Fooses, CR 225C. Right goes to N. Fooses, CR 225. Choose one of these options if you’d like a longer tour. Otherwise, head back to town to enjoy the nightlife.
SKI & SNOWSHOE WITH CARE
Backcountry travel is a physically strenuous activity with many risks and dangers. Hazards, natural or manmade, whether noted in this book or not, can be encountered at any time, under any situation. As a backcountry traveler we assume you know your personal abilities, limitations and have a comprehensive background in avalanche safety.
This book represents nothing more than a guide to routes and is not meant to replace your common sense, your ability to navigate in the wilderness or your ability to travel in the backcountry safely.
The mileages, routes and waypoints listed in this text are only suggestions. There may be variances and changes, you may get lost. We recommend that everyone use a global positioning system and topographical map to navigate.
Most routes in this text are located on public land, but some trails pass through or adjacent to private land. Respect the landowner’s rights and obey all signs regarding trail use.
Neither the authors, nor the publisher, nor anyone else mentioned in this book are responsible or liable in any way for any accident, injury or any action brought against anyone traveling any route listed in this book. All backcountry travelers and their companions assume responsibility for themselves. Explore at your own risk, and always tell somewhere where you are going and when you’ll be back.
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.