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
Silver Creek is a mellow road that follows picturesque Silver Creek near Marshall Pass. The road winds through pine forests along the small waterway and offers excellent views of Mount Antora (13,269 ft.). This is a good trail for people of all ability levels and a good option for people with kids or dogs. This route receives good morning light which is perfect for an early morning workout. Easy and close to Salida.
Trailhead Access: Drive west of Salida to Poncha Springs. At the intersection of US 50/285 turn left (south) and drive 5.1 miles up Poncha Pass. Look for the sign to Marshall Pass and O’Haver Lake and turn right on CR200. Drive 2.8 miles on CR200 to the Shirley Site Angler Parking. Stay to the left on CR/FSR 201 and continue another 1.7 miles to the end of the plowed road. Park here on the side of the road, across from the Silver Creek Lakes subdivision.
Location: Marshall Pass
Distance: 4.2 Miles – Out & Back
Travel Time: 1.5 – 2.5 Hours
Type of Trail: Road
Aerobic Level: Easy
Technical Difficulty: Ski – Novice; Shoe – Novice
Avalanche Danger: Minimal
Elevation in Feet: Low Point 8,853; High Point 9,250; Climbs/Descends 561
Land Status: USFS
Maps: Trails Illustrated #139; USGS Mount Ouray, Poncha Pass
Notes: For this trail to be in good condition, we need a fair amount of snow low in the valley. You may encounter snowmobiles.
Intermediate Option: For a slightly longer tour, continue on this road to the intersection with the Rainbow Trail, another good turnaround point.
Advanced Option: When you reach the Rainbow Trail, turn left on the RT and travel northeast along a singletrack trail with short steep hills. You may encounter spotty snow conditions, but the trail through the trees is really cool.
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.