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Four Pass Loop in Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness. Breanna Sneeringer

Colorado’s highest peaks draw plenty of attention and plenty of crowds, while down below some of the state’s most pristine, unspoiled nature affords true, splendid solitude.

While big-mountain climbers track their rewards by miles and elevation, the rewards for wilderness goers are immeasurable — except, perhaps, by days on the trail.

Here’s a look at some of the state’s designated areas:


Lost Creek Wilderness

The miracle of Colorado's Lost Creek Wilderness

The fall colors showed off during an early October hike on the Goose Creek Trail in the Lost Creek Wilderness.

This mosaic of curious rocks, plateaus and mixed forests sprawls across 120,000 acres only 50 miles from Colorado Springs and Denver. Take it from Gerry Roach, often called the grandfather of the fourteeners for his preeminent guide: “This special place is gentle to the mind and soul,” he wrote in his book on Lost Creek. A typical launch point is Goose Creek trailhead.


Mount Evans Wilderness

This is an ideal getaway for Denverites, who reach it by the famous road leading to the 14,000-foot centerpiece. There’s a good chance they spot their first wildlife on the drive up: the bighorn sheep known to roam this land. From the parking lot near Echo Lake, a popular introduction is the journey to Chicago Lakes, done in a hard day or overnight.

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Two anglers fish the Upper Chicago Lake at 11,800 feet as the sun begins to sink below the mountains.


Eagles Nest Wilderness

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Nancy and Tom Gould of Denver hike the North Tenmile Creek Trail through turning aspens Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020, outside of Frisco, Colo. The trail leads into the Eagles Nest Wilderness Area. The aspens in lower parts of Summit County are bright yellow, orange and red this week. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

To dodge the crowds of Colorado’s central mountains, one must embark deeper. Enter Eagles Nest, treasured for its easy access yet seemingly limitless possibilities, a wonderland of lakes and meadows guarded by the imposing Gore Range. In Frisco, the North Tenmile Creek trailhead is off Interstate 70. Another portal is at the end of Heeney Road near Silverthorne.


Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness

Management has changed here in recent years, a result of this dreamscape captivating Coloradans and visitors from afar. It seems Four Pass Loop will be the next hot spot subject to advanced permits. Don’t expect to be alone on that marvelous, multi-day tour, but do expect to be blown away by the Elk Mountains and waves of wildflowers.


Flat Tops Wilderness

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Amphitheatre Peak in the Flat Tops Wilderness Area can be seen from Trappers Lake.

An iconic representative of the wilderness is Trappers Lake. It is regarded as the birthplace for the 1964 Wilderness Act, the place where Arthur Carhart was inspired to write a memo regarding areas “where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” Framed by the tabletop summits, Trappers Lake glistens in a remote pocket of the northwest high country.


Weminuche Wilderness

Miles from NOWHERE

The most remote spot in Colorado, deep in the Weminuche Wilderness Area is seen from a meadow about a quarter of a mile away along the Vallecito Creek Trail. Photo by Gazette file

At 500,000 acres, this is the state’s largest wilderness area. It’s a magical realm home to the headwaters of the Rio Grande and San Juan rivers, a showcase of southwest Colorado’s austere beauty. The jagged aesthetics include Mount. Eolus and Sunlight and Windom peaks, all of which can be reached from Chicago Basin, a popular, hike-to base camp.


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(2) comments

shdaingerj

I could not help but laugh when I see of people who are hiking in the middle of nowhere too with masks on!!! Jess

rastadoggie

Yeah but it was likely a crowded trail and hikers breathing heavily. Makes sense to me.

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