Hiking: Midvalley | AspenTimes.com

Hiking: Midvalley

This is a favorite for local mountain bikers as well as hikers. Be warned: The first mile of this trail is tough. Then it flattens out ” but not much. The reward is a great view from the top. The trail runs along a ridge before ending at Sloane Peak; from there you can either turn around or, especially if you’re on two wheels, hook into one of several trails and Forest Service roads that will eventually bring you to the small town of Lenado. Definitely pick up a map for reference, or you could wander around for days.

The trailhead can be accessed by foot or bike off the Basalt-Old Snowmass trail along Hwy. 82 (behind the Roaring Fork Club). It’s also accessible by car: drive east from Basalt on Hwy. 82 and take a left at Bishop Drive (you’ll see a house that looks like a windmill). Bear left and go up the hill through the Holland Hills subdivision; stay left again when the road turns to dirt.

The area around Mount Yeckel, near the end of this hike, provides awesome views of the Fryingpan River drainage and the Elk Range. Follow the Fryingpan Road for about 28 miles from Basalt, past Ruedi Reservoir and the towns of Meredith and Thomasville. At Norrie, turn right on Forest Road 504. Take this gravel road three miles uphill, then turn right onto the first road fork. The trailhead bulletin board is visible as soon as you enter Twin Meadows.

From the trailhead, hike west along Deeds Creek. The trail is marked with blue metal tags on trees for cross-country skiers in the winter. It’s about three miles to Sawmill Park (a large meadow) and Mount Yeckel. If you wander around Sawmill Park, you’ll find the remains of an old fire lookout tower and cabin. Margy’s Hut (one of the 10th Mountain Division backcountry huts, which must be reserved in advance) is also nearby.

This heavily wooded trail accesses a pretty mountain lake that’s popular for its fishing and easy access. The trail gains only 300 feet in elevation, following the mountainside contour and topping off on the bench where the lake sits. It smells of pine and in late summer has plenty of mushrooms for shroom-hunters. Follow the Fryingpan Road for about 28 miles from Basalt, past Ruedi Reservoir, Meredith and

Thomasville. Turn right on Forest Road 504 at Norrie. Drive across the river and climb the road’s rough switchbacks for about three miles. Take the left fork, continue for one mile and take the right fork to the trailhead on the left side of the road (about a half-mile).

This hike to an alpine lake is in an especially beautiful area adjacent to the Holy Cross Wilderness. Drive 22 miles from Basalt up the Fryingpan Road, then just past the second bridge after the reservoir, make a left on Forest Road 400. After a steep climb of about five miles, the road goes through Lime Park. At the upper end of the park, turn right onto road 506. When the road forks again after a mile, take the left fork for about three miles to the trailhead bulletin board.

As you begin hiking, you’ll notice what was one of the first hydroelectric plants in the country; it provides power for the private Woods Lake Resort (please respect private property signs in this area). The trail travels through aspen stands along the edge of the resort. It’s then a gradual climb to Eagle Lake, just within the wilderness boundary.

Another crowd-avoider, this trail is a good launching point for backpacking trips, as it links with the Avalanche Creek and Capitol Creek trails. As a day hike, it offers access to Hardscrabble and Williams lakes.

From Aspen, drive 14 miles west on Hwy. 82 to the Old Snowmass Conoco. Turn left and drive for two miles to the “T” intersection. Take a right onto Capitol Creek Road, which is paved for the first 4.5 miles. When the pavement ends, drive another three miles to get to the trailhead (which is also the starting point for the Capitol Creek trail). The last mile requires four-wheel drive, so if you don’t have it, park two miles below the trailhead in the meadow. From the Hell Roaring Trailhead, go straight through the green gate. When the trail forks in about a quarter-mile, take the right one to reach Hardscrabble Lake (.25 mile). Or stay straight on the main trail; in about .75 miles you’ll come to another junction. The right fork leads to Williams Lake. After this point, the trail climbs quite steeply up to above-tree-line Hell Roaring Pass. Then it descends to intersect eventually with the Avalanche Creek Trail.

This trail is an easy walk for most of the way. Drive 27 miles up the Fryingpan Valley from Basalt; about two miles past Thomasville, take a left onto Forest Road 501 and follow the signs to the Elk Wallow Campground. Before you reach the campground, make a left onto Burnt Mountain Road (Road 506) and follow it for about three miles. The trailhead is on the right side of the road. The trail follows Last Chance Creek for a little over two miles until intersecting with Trail 1917; a left turn at the intersection will bring you to Tellurium Lake

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