Summary: 2,800 ft of altitude gain, and 16.5 miles of backpacking through aspen and rocks.
I posted the photos to my Google+ site here.
A group of four Troop 15 friends took a short backpacking trip to the south end of the Lost Creek Wilderness in Colorado, 11-12 June. We got out of camp around 1030 and arrived at the trailhead at Spruce Grove around 1100.
I had no idea the Lost Creek Wilderness even existed, until it was suggested to me by the Camp Alexander camp director. I scored a map of the area and started looking a trails a month or so back.
We didn’t really know where we were going until the evening before we left camp, and then we changed it mid-hike.
When you get to Spruce Grove campsite, note that the gates can be closed for the night at some point, and more to the point, all of the parking is for campers in the Spruce Grove campsite. Backpackers and day hikers are supposed to park next to the road, outside the gate. It is a short walk to the trailhead from there. The camp host was very nice. His dog came over to wag at us and get some petting; that was nice.
We had one detour right away; Tarryall Creek was running high and was on the start of the trail, so we found a way around some rocks about 100 ft upstream. We had no issues after that.
The first part of the hike is a longish approach on Lizard Rock Trail, AKA Forest Service trail 658. 658 ends at the actual boundary of the Wilderness Area. There are self-serve permits there; all of them were used when we were there, so we called the local Ranger District and let them know. We dropped our packs at the boundary and headed NW to a neat overlook of the valley, and then a bit farther to (I presume) Lizard Rock for an amazing view of the Tarryall Creek drainage, and the area over by Lake George.
We had thought we would take trail 607, camp around the junction with 639, and then loop up to Lake Park on 639 and come back. We decided that since it was already about 1400, there were clouds around, and we needed to be back at Camp Alexander by Thursday after, we would shorten the hike a bit.
We headed east on trail 630 and got to Hankins Pass around 1600. The only water we saw this entire time was a stream out of the Pass (it’s annotated on the topo), and some runoff that was across the trail a couple hundred yards below the pass. You really can’t see the stream, but we heard it.
We found an interesting corral-looking structure at the pass, a hundred+ feet east of the trail junction. We quickly set up camp and got water going for dinner. I had Chili Mac. Yum as usual!
After dinner, we got a bear bag hung, and then took a recon hike up the trail to Lake Park. There was an amazing view back to the west that we sat at for awhile and talked.
The days hiking was five miles; this included the approach, the side hikes, and the arrival at Hankins Pass. Camp was at 10000 ft.
We had a decent storm late that night that dumped hail (very small) that we saw a couple places along the trail the next morning.
After our usual breakfast the next morning (we all slept in until 0800), we got daypack stuff and headed up trail 639 to Lake Park. The trail topped out at 11000 feet before dropping into the bowl of Lake Park. It’s a beautiful area that would be fine to camp in.
After lunch, we headed back down to Hankins Pass, packed up our stuff, and walked back down. We got down around 1530, were back in camp by 1600, and already missing the mountains.
Good Info To Know
The one-way length of Forest Service trail 658 (Lizard Rock) is 2.4 miles.
Water: It’s not available on 658. We didn’t see any until near Hankins Pass.
This was a nice (but short) trip that barely scratched the surface of the Lost Creek Wilderness. I would enjoy going back and finishing the loop we wanted to try in the first place.