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Hiking & Walking: Colorado > Pike and San Isabel National Forests > South Platte Ranger District

Quick Facts

Three Mile Creek Trail

Beginning Elevation: 8,980 Feet (2799.3 Meters) Trailhead
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Gain: 2,840 Feet (885.3 Meters)
Ending Elevation: 11,640 Feet (3628.4 Meters) Rosalie Trail Junction
Handicapped Accessible: No
High Point: 11,820 Feet (3684.5 Meters)
Length, One-way: 6.5 Miles (10.83 Kilometers) 10.5 K
Other Maps: Pike National Forest
Recommended Season: Summer
Trail Number: 635
Usage: Moderate to Heavy
USGS Maps: Quads: Mt Evans, Mt Logan

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

This popular hiking trail provides access into the heart of the southern half of the Mt. Evans Wilderness Area. The trailhead is along Geneva Creek Road and its terminus is the junction with the Rosalie Trail. The 6.5 mile hike is rated as moderately difficult due to its length and elevation gain. The trail offers spectacular high mountain scenery and vistas. The last mile of the trail is above tree line. Allow 3.5-4 hours to reach the junction with Rosalie Trail walking a moderate and steady pace. Because of its location in a designated wilderness area mountain bikes and other motorized/mechanized vehicles are prohibited.

The Three Mile Creek Trail is not shown on the Mt. Evans topographic quad map, so this narrative is written with specific reference to marker points on the quad map to help locate your position on the trail. The first 3 miles of the trail follow Three Mile Creek in a northeasterly direction. The stream and trail are in a narrow canyon with the trail crossing the stream at a dozen or so log bridges. At approximately mile 3 (l.5 hours of walking from the trailhead), you come upon a small open meadow with a rock cairn and signpost saying "Trail". The stream crossing immediately before entering the meadow will be the last water source for the remainder of the trail. From the meadow signpost bear right (easterly direction) into a grove of aspen. In about 15-20 minutes you will reach another "Trail" signpost.

From this point the trail rises steeply in a series of switchbacks moving up the southwest flank of Peak 12,574. This section is quite steep and will take about 25-30 minutes to climb. As you ascend these switchbacks look behind you from time to time for dramatic views to the southwest of Kenosha Pass, South Park and the mountains west and south of Fairplay. At the top of the switchbacks the trail begins heading northwest and then north around the west flanks of Peak 12,574. You will still be in trees and gaining elevation, but at a much lower rate than the steep switchbacks. After about 20 minutes of hiking, from the last switchback, you will emerge from the trees on the northwest flank of Peak 12,574. As you emerge into open tundra you will note the following landmarks: Kataka Mountain will be on your left (west), Mt Evans and Mt Bierstadt will be ahead of you and slightly to the left (north/northwest), and below you is a bowl-shaped depression that opens downward to your left. You will also be at the highest point on the trail. From this point you need to get to the opposite side of the bowl (on a line looking toward Mt Bierstadt). If you proceed directly across the depression you will be in an interminable willow bog. For this reason, the trail has been routed to stay out of the bog by traversing the east and north ridges of the depression. Look for large rock cairns placed in the willows and on the tundra. When you reach the northwest edge of the depression (the grassy tundra is almost flat here) the trail drops for the final 1/3 mile to the Rosalie Trail junction. At the trail junction pause to look to the east into Deer Creek Valley. This is the general direction the Rosalie Trail follows to its trailhead near Deer Creek Campground (a distance of approximately 6 miles). If you follow Rosalie Trail to the west it intersects the Abyss Lake Trail in 2 miles and terminates at Guanella Pass after an additional 4 miles of hiking. If you plan to return to the Three Mile Creek Trailhead follow the same route you used coming up to the junction.

Directions from Bailey: Drive west 10.8 miles from Bailey on Highway 285 to Grant. Turn right (north) on Park County Road 62 (sometimes called the Guanella Pass Road). Drive 2.8 miles to the trailhead on the right (east) side of the road. There is a limited amount of parking at the trailhead.

Seasonal Information:
Normally Open: Early Summer through Mid-Fall .

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

Add your own trip Report! Newly re-released feature. One of the most popular features on Wildernet, trip reports allow you to share your experiences with others. This is an invaluable resource for determining what to expect on your outdoor adventure, so please participate! To prevent spamming, you must be a registered user of Wildernet in order to submit a trip report

Filed By: John Stevenson
Time of Day: 08:00 through 14:00
Length of Time: the full trail was inaccessible
Difficulty: Hard
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: I'm going to be hiking this trail on a monthly basis, for a photo diary I'm building at: http://scenemonthly.my-expressions.com This was my first trip - and I was limited by the weather and my own fitness (dammit) and some unfamiliarity with a new camera ... but it's a beautiful trail - see the images at the website!).
Conditions: Overnight snow which covered the trail from the trailhead onwards and became deeper and more icy as I ascended. There were two large fallen trees which could be bypassed and a badly broken bridge over the creek at the point where I chose to turn back.
Water Availability: I did not bring water - this was a (large) mistake!
Recommended Clothing: Heavy hooded anorak, gloves, waterproof hiking pants, hiking boots.
Suggested Accessories: Two cameras, GPS receiver.

Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Hiking & Walking Three Mile Creek Trail
ICON Horseback Riding Three Mile Creek Trail
ICON Animal Identification Three Mile Creek Trail
ICON Bird Identification Three Mile Creek Trail
ICON Mushroom Identification Three Mile Creek Trail
ICON Plant Identification Three Mile Creek Trail
ICON Wildflower Identification Three Mile Creek Trail
ICON Viewing Scenery Three Mile Creek Trail
ICON Viewing Wildlife Three Mile Creek Trail

Nearby Services

nearest public telephone: various (private, for profit) Directions: Grant - Drive south on Park County Road 62

fire and emergency services: (non-profit) Directions: Bailey - 14 miles east on Highway 285

Related Activities
Burning Bear Campground - Burning Bear Campground is located approximately four miles northwest of the small town of Grant, Colorado. It consists of 13 individual family campsites.

Burning Bear Trail - This pleasant 5.5 mile trail follows the Burning Bear Creek west from Geneva Creek, over a ridge, and down the Burning Bear Creek on the west side of the ridge.

Geneva Creek Picnic Ground - The Geneva Creek Picnic Ground consists of five individual family sites each with a table and a fire ring. The site provides easy access to the Mount Evans Wilderness Area.

Rosalie Trail - The Rosalie Trail is a popular trail extending from the southeast edge of the Mt. Evans Wilderness Area to Guanella Pass. It offers spectacular views of Mt. Bierstadt and Mt. Evans.

Whiteside Campground - Whiteside Picnic Area provides easy access to the Mt. Evans Wilderness Area and Guanella Pass Scenic Byway.

More Information

Visitor Information:

South Platte Ranger District, U.S. Forest Service, 19316 Goddard Ranch Ct. , Morrison, CO, 80465, Phone: 303-275-5610


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