This is a multi-use trail that leads along the timberline of the western Sawatch Range. It is also a long distance trail leading 31 miles from Mirror Lake north to Red Mountain Road. The trail serves as the western boundary for the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness area, but is not within the wilderness.
Timberline Trail, 414, begins at the end of Forest Service Road 267.1B in Garden Basin. This is also on the route of the Continental Divide Trail. You may wish to park in the designated area close to Mirror Lake Road and hike one mile on road 267.1B.
The trail begins at 11,520 feet and begins to ascend immediately. A mile from Garden Basin the trail reaches 12,400 feet and begins to descend. The trail winds around a ridge and leads into the Sanford Creek drainage. It follows Sanford Creek for two miles. The trail leaves Sanford Creek and climbs a low ridge before descending into the Cow Creek valley. The trail meets two trails in the Cow Creek drainage. One trail intersects Timberline Trail south of the creek and the other intersects Timberline Trail north of the creek.
About a mile and a half north of Cow Creek Timberline Trail crosses Cottonwood Pass Road. There is a parking area and trailhead for the trail on Cottonwood Pass Road. The trail descends to Texas Creek traveling north from Cottonwood Pass Road. The length of this stretch of tread is approximately two and a half miles. After crossing Texas Creek, walk eastward on Texas Creek Road approximately one half mile. The trail will switchback from the road then begin leading northward in Prospector Gulch.
Two forks occur in the trail north of Texas Creek Road. They are approximately one mile apart and Timberline Trail bears to the left at both. Timberline Trail continues to follow the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness boundary into the Illinois Creek drainage. There will be three stream crossings within two miles then the trail intersects with Lake Ann Trail, 1462. This is where the Continental Divide Trail leaves the Timberline Trail heading eastward for the Clear Creek Valley.
Timberline Trail remains close to 11,400 feet for the next two miles then begins to descend slowly. Approximately four miles from the Lake Ann Trail intersection the trail reaches 10,800 feet and the Pieplant Creek drainage. It crosses four creeks within this drainage. There are also two trail branches that lead to the Pieplant Mine within the wilderness boundary.
Two miles from the last stream crossing near the Pieplant Mill, Red Mountain Creek Trail, leads northward into the wilderness from Timberline Trail. From this point to the northern trail terminus, Timberline Trail parallels Red Mountain Creek. During these last two and a half miles the trail descends from 10,040 to 9,840. The trail ends on Red Mountain Road.
Directions from Taylor River Road: The northern terminus of Timberline Trail is on Red Mountain Road about two and a half miles east of Taylor River Road. Red Mountain Road lies two miles north of Dinner Station Campground.
Directions from Tincup: The southern terminus of Timberline Trail is on Mirror Lake Road two and a half miles east of Tincup.
Directions from Taylor River Road: Timberline Trail is also accessible from Pieplant Road, Texas Creek Road, Cottonwood Pass Road, Cow Creek Road and Sanford Creek Road.