PEAK TO PEAK
Colorado’s Peak to Peak region is teeming with amazing backcountry spots and the trails that take you there. Each month, MMAC Monthly takes a closer look at some popular places to enjoy the outdoors in a variety of ways and in any season.
Sourdough Trail is a long-distance trail with multiple access points that facilitate moderate out-and-back trips, end-to-end shuttle trips and multiple side-loop opportunities. It intersects Little Raven, South Saint Vrain, Beaver Reservoir Cutoff and Buchanan Pass trails.
The entire Sourdough Trail runs 12.5 miles, so it is popular to take on either the north or south section from the Red Rock Lake Trailhead, which is the trail’s high point. Other access points includes Beaver Reservoir Road Trailhead, 2.5 miles north of the Brainard Lake Road and at Peaceful Valley, 5.8 miles north of the Brainard Lake Road. Parking is at the intersection to Camp Dick Road, which is unplowed in winter.
Unlike many mountain trails, both sections offer plenty of climbs and descents through the woods, meadows and small clearings before a final, somewhat steep, descent to Rainbow Lakes Road or Camp Dick. Snowmobiles are forbidden on the entire Sourdough Trail.
The South Sourdough doesn’t offer as many side trails as the North Sourdough, but it is considered a nice wander through the forest and sees less use than its northern counterpart. It can also be accessed from Rainbow Lakes Road, an unpaved road off the Peak to Peak marked “University of Colorado Research Station.”
Northbound from the Red Rock Lake Trailhead, the trail includes several side trail options, snowed-over four-wheel-drive roads and short connecting trails as well as destinations including Beaver Reservoir and Strapp Lake. To access the North Sourdough section in its middle, start from the Beaver Reservoir Road Trailhead.
Although the Sourdough Trail—marked with blue diamond trail markers—is easily navigated, trail junctions and tricky spots exist. Junctions are well marked, but new snow can make it easy to get off-route. The northern section of the trail and its connectors form a complicated network, so a good map and compass are highly recommended.
The Sourdough Trail is considered an easy trail for snowshoers of all abilities, but is a more moderate route for skiers.
Winter brings short days with strong winds, low temperatures, and rapidly changing weather. Be prepared by carrying extra clothing for layering, as well as water and high energy food. Prevent frostbite by keeping extremities and the face well protected.
Visit http://www.fs.usda.gov/arp to learn more about the trail and forest.
Trail Features: Easy to moderate long-distance trail with multiple
access points, no avalanche danger and plenty of ups and downs without the crowds that form on nearby trails.
Trail Location: Trail can be accessed from several locations along the Peak to Peak Highway including the Brainard Lake, Peaceful Valley, Rainbow Lakes and Beaver Reservoir areas.
One-Way Length: 12.5 miles
Elevation: Red Rock Trailhead: 10,060 feet; 900 foot loss to Beaver Creek Road;1,520-foot loss to Camp Dick
Trail Difficulty Rating: Easy/Moderate
Originally published in the December issue of the MMAC Monthly