- In the northern San Juan Mountains, about 12 miles west of Lake City
- Dirt and rock
- Vehicle Type:
- 12 miles
- 1 to 2 hours
- June to October
DescriptionThe Cottonwood Creek Road doesn't get much vehicle traffic because it is so rough. Still, its gentle grade and spectacular scenery make it a good choice for those with vehicles up to the task. The trail first passes through aspen and spruce stands with frequent views of the surrounding cliffs. After a rain, waterfalls can be seen here. Beyond Boulder Gulch, the valley opens to large willow flats dotted with beaver ponds. About 3/4 mile up the trail from Boulder Gulch is the road to the Cuba Gulch Trailhead. Continuing on the main road for another 3/4 mile leads to the beginning of a steep set of switchbacks. The easy part of the trail ends here. Vehicles are prohibited from driving any further.
If you keep your eye on the cliffs to the north, you might be lucky enough to see the small herd of bighorn sheep that lives there. While the trail stops at the first switchback, hikers with energy to spare may wish to continue up into the upper Snare Creek basin to reach several tundra ponds at the top.