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Hiking & Walking: Colorado > Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests > Sulphur Ranger District

Quick Facts

Bowen Gulch Trail

Beginning Elevation: 8,940 Feet (2786.8 Meters)
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Gain: 2,536 Feet (790.5 Meters)
Ending Elevation: 11,476 Feet (3577.3 Meters) at Bowen Pass
Length, One-way: 8.1 Miles (13.5 Kilometers)
Other Maps: Arapaho Roosevelt National Forest
TI Topo Maps: #115, Rand, Stillwater Pass; Never Summer Wilderness
Trail Number: 117
Usage: Moderate
USGS Maps: Bowen Mountain; Grand Lake

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

Never Summer Wilderness Boundary above Bowen Lake
Copyright: - US Forest Service
Never Summer Wilderness Boundary above Bowen Lake
After 6.25 miles, the old jeep road up Bowen Gulch becomes a trail, continuing at Bowen Pass a total distance of 8.1 miles. Although the route itself is not particularly scenic, the trails which lead to beautiful Bowen and Blue Lakes can be reached by following the route up Bowen Gulch.

From Bowen Pass, a cross-country hike can be made to Bowen Lake by climbing to Ruby and then Cascade Mountains. Another alternative is to hike north along the divide to Fairview Mountain and then complete a loop trip by following Baker Gulch back to the trailhead. The trail can also be followed south beyond Bowen Lake, to the Wolverine Trail.

In the springtime, the swollen and unbridged streams are difficult to cross. Snow remains along the upper portion of the trail to the Pass until early July. The better campsites are located along the upper half of the trail and off of the trails to Bowen and Blue Lakes.

NARRATIVE: This trail follows a dirt road past a Settlement of cabins in Rocky Mountain National Park. The trail directional signs lead to the headwaters of the Colorado River, at which Point the road ends. The hiker must find a way across the river to follow the path along its western bank where it enters Forest Service land and continues to gradually rise above the Kawuneeche Valley. An unsigned fork in the trail is reached about 1 mile from the trailhead. Take the left hand fork and continue until the trail intersects an old jeep road which travels westward up Bowen Gulch. This rough road follows a moderately level grade through a thick lodgepole pine forest, interrupted by Several difficult stream crossings. Pine marten porcupines, and blue grouse are some of the forest habitants frequently seen by the hiker along this route. After 6 miles, a Junction with a one mile trail to Blue Lake is reached.

Shortly after the Blue Lake turnoff, another path leads away from the Bowen Gulch Trail to the remnant of an old, unproductive, silver-copper-lead mine known as the Wolverine Mine. The road ascending Bowen Gulch to the Wolverine Mine was built in the 1880's as a wagon road after the discovery of the mine in 1875 by Prospector Jim Bowen.

The road soon turns into a trail after a bridged stream is crossed. A half mile further up the trail a junction is reached where a two mile trail heads south to Bowen Lake. The Bowen Gulch Trail turns north and continues to ascend through a Subalpine fir forest to Bowen Pass. Shortly before the pass, a beautiful lush, green meadow is entered where wildflowers abound and deer and elk can frequently be seen. A few rock cairns mark the way up this gently sloping meadow to Bowen Pass, a distance of 8.1 miles from the trailhead.

Bowen Pass Sits atop a unique section of the Continental Divide where the Pacific waters flow eastward and the Atlantic waters flow West. Cascade, Bowen and Fairview mountains are the impressive and often Snow covered peaks which surround the pass. The green plains of North Park and the Illinois River drainage can be viewed to the north, and the emerald green pond known as Ruby Lake sits beside Ruby mountain to the southwest.

Directions from Granby: Follow Highway 40 west to Highway 34. Go north on Hwy 34 to Rocky Mountain National Park's West Entrance. From the park entrance, follow Trail Ridge Road for 6.4 miles to the Bowen/Baker Trailhead parking area. From the parking area follow the signs to Bowen Gulch . Bowen Gulch can also be reached from the south on the Wolverine Trail.

Seasonal Information:
Normally Accessible: Summer through Fall (NOTE: Snow remains on the upper portions of the trail to the pass until Early July.) .

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

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Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Backpacking Bowen Gulch and connecting trails
ICON Hiking & Walking Bowen Gulch and connecting trails
ICON Horseback Riding Bowen Gulch and connecting trails

Related Activities
Parika Lake Trail - The Parika Lake Trail is located north of Granby. It starts from the Baker Gulch Trail, leads past Parika Lake then over the Continental Divide.

More Information

Visitor Information:

Sulphur Ranger District, 62429 US Hwy 40, P.O. Box 10 , Granby, CO, 80446, Phone: 970-887-4100, Fax: 970-887-4102, TTY: 970-887-4101


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