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Camping: Colorado > Pike and San Isabel National Forests > Salida Ranger District

Quick Facts

Ptarmigan Lake Trail

Beginning Elevation: 10,660 Feet (3322.9 Meters) Cottonwood Pass Road
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 9,200 Feet (2867.8 Meters)
Elevation Gain, One-way: 1,472 Feet (458.9 Meters)
Ending Elevation: 12,132 Feet (3781.8 Meters) Ptarmigan Lake
Length, One-way: 3.3 Miles (5.5 Kilometers) 5.3K
Other Maps: Trails Illustrated 129, San Isabel National Forest
Recommended Season: Summer
Trail Number: 1444
Usage: Moderate
USGS Maps: Mt. Yale, Tincup

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

Ptarmigan Lake, 11 surface acres, is a popular destination for hikers and anglers. Fishing is usually excellent for native cutthroat trout in the cold waters of the lake. The lake lies above timberline so be sure to avoid it during thunderstorms.

The trail starts on Cottonwood Pass at about 10,660'. From the trailhead it climbs steadily but not steeply along the western side of Ptarmigan Creek. The trail leaves the creek after approximately 1.75 miles heading west. At about 12,000' it crosses a fork of Ptarmigan Creek. From here the lake is .25 miles away. The ending elevation of the trail is 12,132'.

Directions from Buena Vista: Travel approximately 12.5 miles west on Cottonwood Pass Road (Highway 306) to the trailhead on the southern side of the road.

Seasonal Information:
Normally Open: July through October (NOTE: paved parking, toilet, Concessionaire operated/Winter Recreation access) .

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

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Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Man and woman were running a pack of four dogs off leash! Is this what you come to the National Forests for?

Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Fishing Ptarmigan Lake Trail - Ptarmigan Lake
ICON Hiking & Walking Ptarmigan Lake Trail
ICON Horseback Riding Ptarmigan Lake Trail
ICON Animal Identification Ptarmigan Lake Trail
ICON Bird Identification Ptarmigan Lake Trail
ICON Mushroom Identification Ptarmigan Lake Trail
ICON Plant Identification Ptarmigan Lake Trail
ICON Wildflower Identification Ptarmigan Lake Trail
ICON Viewing Scenery Ptarmigan Lake Trail

More Information

Visitor Information:

Salida Ranger District, U.S. Forest Service, 325 Rainbow Blvd. , Salida, CO, 81201, Phone: 719-539-3591, Fax: 719-539-3593


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