High Trail Gulch  
Maps:    
USGS 7.5' Map: Lava Creek
Statistics:
Difficulty: Number: Miles: Altitude: Obstacles: Time:
Moderate 5 FR 445 5.00 8,000 to 10,050 ft. NA 3-4 hours
County: Eagle
Adopted by:      
Managed by: White River National Forest,
Holy Cross Ranger District
24747 US Hwy 24 (P.O. Box 190)
Minturn, Colorado 81645
(970)963-2266
Summary: High Trail Gulch 4WD road climbs a ridge from the Cottonwood Creek drainage area to the Castle Gulch drainage area.
Attractions: Hunting
Seasonal
Closure:
Agency - Nov 23 to May 20
Best Time: June - Possible snow drifts
July - Best
August - Best
September - Best
October - Early snows possible
Trail Heads
Accessed:
 
Camping: There area a few dispersed camp sites at the top of the ridge and a few on the west side of the ridge.
Base Camp: This would not be a good place to base camp. It is a dead end road that is at the end of a network of other roads.
Fall Colors: Very Good - There are large aspen groves on the west end of High Trail Gulch 4WD road.
Navigation: From Wolcott, CO. head northwest on Colorado Hwy 131 North toward Yacht Club Drive and go 13.6 miles. Turn right onto County Rd 1/Trough Rd and go 9.6 miles. Turn right onto Route 11 and go 1.0 mile. Turn right onto Cottonwood Creek Rd and go 0.7 miles. Take a sharp left to stay on Cottonwood Creek Rd and go 1.5 miles to a kiosk where you enter public lands. Continue on the road your on which becomes Cottonwood, FR 402. Continue straight to stay on Cottonwood and go 2.2 miles. Turn right onto Sheephorn, FR 401 and go 1.2 miles. At the intersection continue straight on Cottonwood Basin, FR 444 and go 3.0 miles. At 2.4 miles you will come to an intersection. Continue down hill to the right to stay on Cottonwood Basin (The left will climb two switchbacks and then dead end.) At the next intersection take the left to start High Trail Gulch, FR 445.

From Kremmling head south on Colorado Hwy 9 S/6th Street toward Eagle Ave and continue to follow Colorado Hwy 9 South for 2.3 miles. Turn right onto County Rd 1/Trough Rd and go 14.7 miles. Turn left onto Route 11 and go 1.0 mile. Turn right onto Cottonwood Creek Rd and go 0.7 miles. Take a sharp left to stay on Cottonwood Creek Rd and go 1.5 miles to a kiosk where you enter public lands. Continue on the road your on which becomes Cottonwood, FR 402. Continue straight to stay on Cottonwood and go 2.2 miles. Turn right onto Sheephorn, FR 401 and go 1.2 miles. At the intersection continue straight on Cottonwood Basin, FR 444 and go 3.0 miles. At 2.4 miles you will come to an intersection. Continue down hill to the right to stay on Cottonwood Basin (The left will climb two switchbacks and then dead end.) At the next intersection take the left to start High Trail Gulch, FR 445.
History:
Description:
High Trail Gulch road starts at the end of the Cottonwood Basin road. It heads south through dense pine and aspen trees as it climbs toward the saddle below West Peak (11,053 ft.). There will be some steep sections, but the main obstacle will be a very steep climb through exposed rocks that has two choices. The left route up hill is the steepest with larger rocks at the top.
Looking down the steep section

photo by:
Adam M

The right route up hill is steep, but does not have the large rocks to deal with. Once past this challenge the road will top out at the saddle and pass through a fence line.

The road will continue down High Trail Gulch passing through some small meadows and aspen groves before crossing a large meadow surrounded by aspen.
 

photo by:
Adam M

The road works its way through the aspen trees with sections looking as if it has been rarely driven. The road will pass over sections of black exposed rocks and have you working through the trees that will get pretty close. There will be small washouts to straddle and some rough sections to drive.
 

photo by:
Adam M

After passing through a few small meadows the road will climb a short hill and top out onto a large open area.

The road to the left, FR445.1A is a short spur road that dead ends in less than a mile. High Trail Gulch continues down hill across the large open area. You will drop down a narrow section with a gulch on either side that comes to an intersection. The road to the right drops down and crosses the gulch before steeply climbing to the top of a large hill and cresting the top. This road is not shown on the Forest Service Motor Vehicle Use Map but is marked as FR409. The left road also drops to the bottom of the gulch passing a small dispersed campsite. It continues down hill until it comes to a fence with a No Tresspassing sign. You will not be able to reach County Road 6A less than a mile away due to the private property. You will have to back track to reach pavement again.
Data updated: February 26, 2014      4WD Road driven: August 31, 2013      Copyright 4X4Explore.com - 2000-2014