- 38 miles southwest of Gunnison
- 9 mile roundtrip
- 4.5 to 5.5 hours
- Trailhead Elevation:
- 11200 feet
- Elevation Change:
- 700 feet
- June - October
This trail leads to both upper and lower Powderhorn Lakes, climbing through a forest to a large meadow at 11,700 ft. The meadow contains a wide variety of wild flowers and from the northern rim offers good views of the Gunnison Basin drainage. If you're quiet and lucky you may see elk grazing in the meadow in the early morning or late evening. The lakes themselves are set in a beautiful basin. Both provide fair to good trout fishing as do the stream and beaver ponds of the West Fork of Powderhorn Creek. Please practice catch & release fishing as much as possible.
The first 1.5 miles of the trail climbs through a mature spruce/fire forest, emerging into a scenic meadow. The route crosses the meadow and goes back into the woods, continuing to rise and fall across several small drainages. At mile 3 the trail climbs fairly steeply and emerges in a meadow beside some beaver ponds at the West Fork of Powderhorn Creek. Here, the trail splits. Follow the right fork .25 mile further upstream to the lower lake. The trail skirts the west side of the lower lake and follows the creek for another .5 mile to the upper lake.
Hazards/Considerations: Be sure to take a map of the area and compass to aid you in staying on the right path. It is important to be prepared for typical July and August afternoon thunder showers. It is best to get an early start and avoid ridges and open areas during storms to avoid lightning strikes. Be sure to take sunscreen, rain gear, and drinking water. Remember, hiking at high altitudes requires more time and energy. Take your time, enjoy the scenery and avoid over-exertion. Be sure someone knows where you are going and when you plan to return.
Map + Directions
From Gunnison go 9 miles west on Hwy. 50, take Hwy. 149 south for 20 miles. Turn left on Indian Creek Road (County Rd. 58) and continue on a rough 2-wheel drive road for 10 miles. The trailhead sign and parking area are at the end of the road.