Mesa Cortina Trail

Eagles Nest Wilderness Area, Colorado

Elevation Gain1,179ft
Trailhead Elevation9,217ft
Elevation Min/Max9180/9592ft
Elevation Start/End9217/9217ft

Mesa Cortina Trail

Mesa Cortina Trail is a hiking and horse trail in Summit County, Colorado. It is within Eagles Nest Wilderness Area and White River National Forest. It is 2.8 miles long and begins at 9,217 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 5.7 miles with a total elevation gain of 1,179 feet. This trail connects with the following: Gore Range Trail.

Mesa Cortina Trail Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Winter Trails: Colorado-The Best Cross-Country Ski and Snowshoe Trails (Falcon Guides)
Andy Lightbody and Kathy Mattoon
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"The Mesa Cortina Trail is an excellent choice for beginners because the route follows terrain that climbs gently. Overall elevation change from the trailhead to the turnaround point is less than 360 vertical feet over 3.5 miles. What can make this route tricky is that it’s not well marked, and after a fresh snowfall, when you have to break the trail, it can be difficult to follow. Carrying a good set of topographic maps, a compass, or a GPS into the area should be considered a must. The open meadows, sloping away to the Blue River Valley, and the trek through parts of the Eagles Nest Wilderness Area make this a unique outdoor experience. Views of Silverthorne and Ptarmigan Mountains add to the splendor."
Colorado's Quiet Winter Trails (Colorado Mountain Club Press)
Dave Muller
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"The Mesa Cortina Trail traverses the eastern flanks of the Gore Range from a residential area to South Willow Creek, where it meets the Gore Range Trail. This demanding trail is not used by snowmobilers. It descends and rises several times before reaching a turnaround point at an open meadow below Buffalo Mountain, within the Eagles Nest Wilderness."

Mesa Cortina Trail Trip Reports

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I did this trail a few days after a snowfall and it was nice, quiet and not crowded, I probably saw a total of 5 people during my hike, most of them as I was coming back. It starts in a residential area in Silverthorne and for the first mile or so you can see I-70 and hear it. Afterwards it turns quiet and more woodsy before opening up to more scenic places with meadows and great views of Buffalo and Red mountains. At at about 2 miles or so I turned to the Wheeler Gore trail and followed it for about 1 mile or so before stopping and turning back. The two guide books here suggest that because of possible avalanche danger. The two guide books also list the total length of the trail (in and out) as 7 or 7.5 miles. The snow on the trail was fresh and I used my snowshoes all the way in and out. The trail was readily visible most of the time but not always, so having a good map and a GPS was helpful. The trail is pretty easy too with little elevation gain but you are starting at 9200 ft. It took me a little over 4 h to complete with a nice leisurely lunch stop in a meadow before turning back.
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This trail is in bad need of some repair. The first few miles have been maintained well untill you get close to timberline then a lot of fallen trees still have not been cut out. Once you hit the junction of the Eccles pass the trail is hard to find to go over Red Buffalo Pass. Look for the Cairns and the path above the lake. The trail just below the pass(on both sides) is very eroded. The trip took me approx. 4.5 hours by mostly running with a few short stops for route finding close to the pass. Make sure if you are goind from East to West over the pass to look closely for the Cairns going straight down off the pass. A few misleading Cairns will take you up to the peaks instead of immediately off the pass. Once you reach the bottom of the basin on the West side of the pass the trail gradually improves the closer you get to the creek crossing.

Mesa Cortina Trail Photos

Trail Information

Eagles Nest Wilderness Area
Nearby City
Eagles Nest Wilderness Area
Skill Level
White River National Forest
Local Contacts
USGS Dillon,Willow Lakes,Vail East; Trails Illustrated: #108 Vail,Frisco,Dillon
Local Maps

Trail Log