- 75 miles southwest of Gunnison
- 9.6 mile roundtrip
- 5 to 6 hours
- Trailhead Elevation:
- 9300 feet
- Elevation Change:
- -3100 feet
- July - October
Wager Gulch road is a rough four-wheel drive route leading to Carson, the best preserved ghost town in the San Juans. Although the road gets a fair amount of use by vehicles, those without 4wd may enjoy a day hike or mountain bike ride to the townsite. The trail continues up to the Continental Divide where hiking or mountain biking is possible in almost every direction. You can also connect with the Colorado Trail and Continental Divide Trail from here.
The first l.5 miles of the trail is a steady, sometimes steep climb. Leveling out a bit, the terrain leads through open meadows and aspen stands, finally reaching Carson, 3.4 miles from the trailhead at 11,600 ft. Carson was established in 1881 with the discovery of silver and gold and abandoned in 1902. The ghost town is now privately owned. Currently, the owners allow visitors to stroll through Carson, but this privilege is dependent on how well the land and building remains are respected. From Carson, the trail climbs another 1.4 miles to the Continental Divide at 12,400 feet.
Hazards/Considerations: Although the vehicles will not be traveling fast, the Wager Gulch road does gets a moderate amount of jeep, atv and motorcycle use, so mountain bikers and hikers should stay alert, especially around corners. It is important to be prepared for typical July and August afternoon thundershowers. Stay off the ridges and away from open ground to avoid lightning strikes. Be sure to bring water sunscreen and raingear. Remember, hiking at high altitude requires more time and energy. Take your time, enjoy the scenery and avoid overexertion. Be sure someone knows where you are going and when you plan to return.
Lake City is 60 miles southwest of Gunnison on Hwy 149.
From Lake City, take Highway 149 south for 2.5 miles. Turn right onto the road to Lake San Cristobal. Follow the paved road about 4 miles, then continue on the dirt road for another 5.2 miles. The trail is on the left at the Wager Gulch/Carson sign.