Ptarmigan Trail

Summit County, Colorado

Distance2.0mi
Elevation Gain1,218ft
Trailhead Elevation9,091ft
Top9,927ft
Elevation Min/Max9091/9927ft
Elevation Start/End9091/9091ft

Ptarmigan Trail

Ptarmigan Trail is a hiking and biking trail in Summit County, Colorado. It is within White River National Forest. It is two miles long and begins at 9,091 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 4.1 miles with a total elevation gain of 1,218 feet.

Ptarmigan Trail Professional Reviews and Guides

"Here is an excellent lollipop loop in the hills above Silverthorne in a small triangle of the Williams Fork Mountains and Arapaho National Forest. The route is a mellow stroll on a gentle grade and soft tread through aspen and pine forest, with great views of the Gore Range, Dillon Reservoir, and the high mountains far to the south.

This hike kicks off with a short climb through a little stand of trees and up a steep gravel road to the top of the hill, where the trail continues up a dry, south-facing slope of stubby sage and grasses. As we pass under a huge power pole, note the faint trail coming in from the right; that is our return route. Just past this junction, the path leads into a forest mix of pine and aspen. The trail is in superb condition, hugging the contours of the mountain on soft tread and easy, even flat grades in these early stages."

"The Ptarmigan Trail climbs steadily through various ecosystems including sagebrush meadow, lodgepole pine, aspen, spruce-fir, and alpine tundra—the land above the trees. While thick forest envelops the trail between 1.7 and 4.2 miles, a few open spaces provide great views of the Gore Range or the lower Blue River valley.

As you hike above treeline, keep your eyes open on the north ridge for the resident elk herd. The long hike is rewarded by beautiful vistas from the top, including four 14,000-foot peaks, much of the craggy Gore Range, the Tenmile Range, and Dillon Reservoir. A shorter, difficult 5.2-mile option is noted."

"The Ptarmigan Trail climbs steadily through various ecosystems including sagebrush meadow, lodgepole pine, aspen, spruce-fir, and alpine tundra —the land above the trees. While thick forest envelops the trail the first 4 miles, a few open spaces provide great views of the Gore Range or the lower Blue River valley.

As you hike above treeline, keep your eyes open on the north ridge for the resident elk herd. The long hike is rewarded by beautiful vistas from the top, including four 14,000-foot peaks, much of the craggy Gore Range, the Tenmile Range, and Dillon Reservoir."

"Ptarmigan Peak includes that portion of the Williams Fork Mountains that runs generally northwest from the Eisenhower Tunnel to Ute Pass, the saddle between the Blue River valley and the Williams Fork. Standing at Dillon Reservoir, the wilderness ridge spans the lazy corner above Silverthorne, with Ptarmigan Peak as the highest point. The forests here consist of lodgepole pine, which give way in normal progression to Engelmann spruce and subalpine fir.

The high ridgeline extends into alpine tundra. The south half of the Williams Fork Mountains ridge that comprises the wilderness is unremarkable by itself; the real wonder of the larger roadless area comes in the lush riparian meadows and beaver dams located north of the ridge on the South Fork of the Williams Fork river. Dense willows line innumerable beaver dams and the pools and cascades created by those dams. Anglers delight in dozens of perennial streams and their attendant brook, cutthroat, brown, and rainbow trout. This trail guide includes descriptions of ptarmigan peak and pass, South Fork Trail, and Ute Pass to Ptarmigan Pass to South Fork."

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Trail Information

Summit County
Nearby City
Dog-friendly
Accessibility
USDA Forest Service, Dillon Ranger District, 680 Blue River Pkwy., Silverthorne; (970) 468-5400; www.fs.usda.gov/whiteriver; www.dillonrangerdistrict.com
Local Contacts
USGS Dillon; Nat Geo Trails Illustrated 108 Vail/Frisco/Dillon; Latitude 40˚ Summit County Trails; USFS White River National Forest map
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Oct 2018