Central Colorado’s Most Scenic Snowshoe Hikes
Snowshoe Park County
Park County Tourism, Blog Post #3
By Heidi Kerr-Schlaefer
I discovered snowshoeing shortly after moving to Colorado in 2000. My first excursion was at Pole Creek Golf Course near Winter Park and from the moment buckled my foot into those snowshoes, I was hooked.
There are multiple reasons I love snowshoeing. The first is that strapping on a pair of snowshoes allows one to escape into a magical, wintry world. If you pick the right areas, you can truly get away from everyone and everything. Additionally, snowshoeing is a great workout that burns anywhere from 400 to 1000 calories an hour.
I’ve done quite a bit of snowshoeing in Park County because my in-laws have had a home in the Indian Mountain area for more than a decade. The Indian Mountain neighborhood is just west of Lost Creek Wilderness.
Park County is remote, making it a wonderful area for snowshoeing if you want to get away from crowds. Unlike areas around Colorado’s Front Range, it’s possible to snowshoe here without seeing another soul.
There are many trails available for snowshoeing and nordic skiing in Park County. Here are three that I’ve scouted on snowshoes.
Just a few minutes south of Fairplay, on CR 18, Tie Hack Trail is easily accessible. For those who are curious, a “tie-hack” was a worker who shaped railroad ties with hand tools in the earliest days of the railroad.
The trail is rated moderate to difficult in the winter, and with an elevation of more than 10,000 feet above sea level, this is not a trail for newbie snowshoers (or nordic skiers), especially someone who isn’t in semi-good shape or hasn’t acclimated to the elevation of Park County.
The Tie-Hack Trail loop is about five miles, and if you cross country ski, it’s advisable to do the loop counterclockwise in order to negotiate the route’s steep pitches skiing uphill as opposed to down. Snowshoers, on the other hand, may wish to go clockwise in order to have more downhill hiking than up.
This is another trail just a few minute drive from Fairplay. The Short Loop at Beaver Creek is about 1.75 miles long. For nordic skiers it’s fun to tour this loop clockwise as you’ll have wider stretches going when going downhill.
On an outing with friends, we snowshoed Beaver Creek Trail which follows Beaver Creek Road for about 3.2 miles one way. I saw my first ermine on this outing, a type of weasel that turns white in the winter.
While the Tie Hack Trail is more treed, the Beaver Creek Trail is more open with rolling snow fields swirling around the creekbed. Snowmobiles use this road as well, although we didn’t run into any on our outing.
Lost Creek Wilderness encompasses 119,790 acres and ranges from 8,000 to 12,400 feet above sea level. There are a number of snowshoe accessible areas here in the winter.
From Hwy 285, turn south on County Road 56, and on the twenty mile stretch between Hwy 285 and the Lost Park Campground, you’ll find several snowshoe friendly areas.
Park County is remote and this makes it special, but it also makes it potentially dangerous. Don’t forget to tell someone where you’re heading and be sure to pack the appropriate backcountry gear on all outings. Check out this Snowshoe Day Hiking Checklist from REI.
Author’s NOTE: Always check with the Forest Service Office in Fairplay at (719) 836-2031 about snow conditions before heading out. These trails do not always have adequate snow for snowshoeing/nordic skiing and your outing may turn into a hike.