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Ptarmigian Pass via Wilder Gulch

Length: Approx. 7.1 miles roundtrip
Highlights: 
wildflowers, beautiful meadows, awe-inspiring mountain vistas and ghosts of Camp Hale
Difficulty Rating:
Intermediate
Elevation Gain: Approx. 1,200 ft.

Below: A view from the pass... a storm approaches!

Directions:
From Frisco proceed west on I-70 to exit 190. Follow signs to the rest stop and park here. The trail begins at the lower end of the parking lot and parallels I-70 for a short stretch before turning right and heading into the tranquility and serenity of Wilder Gulch.

Description:
This is a pleasant three and a half mile stroll from the parking lot at the rest stop at exit 190 on I-70 to the top of Ptarmigian Pass at 11,800".
The trail parallels I-70 for about a quarter mile before entering Wilder Gulch where it begins a gentle ascent to the pass. Wildflowers and wildlife abound here. On our recent trek through the gulch we noticed numerous deer or elk beds along the trail but we were not fortunate enough to actually see any wildlife other than birds and squirrels.

 Below: As you head in to Wilder Gulch the trail gently ascends in and out of some coniferous forests. The pass is off to the left in this photo.


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The trail ascends steadily for about 2.9 miles from the parking lot in and out of coniferous forests. Your goal is quite visible as you can see the saddle straight ahead between Ptarmigian Hill (on the right) and Machine Gun Ridge.

At about 2.9 miles you pick up a 4wd road on your left to begin the final push to the pass. A sign clearly marks the location of this turn. As you approach the pass, pristine meadows filled with wildflowers mark the way. At the top of the pass toward machine gun ridge on your left, look for a sign that has toppled to the ground that describes the landmarks in view including 12,100' Ptarmigian Hill to your right.

The 1,200' elevation gain and the 7 mile roundtrip distance make this an intermediate level hike over relatively simple terrain. Camp Hale, the training grounds for the 110th mountain division that fought in the Alps during WWII lies ahead.

 

 
Above:  After about 2.9 miles a sign marks a left turn that begins
 the final ascent to the 11,800' pass.

Above: The final stretch - nearing the top.  

 

 
Please Note: In recent years, live ordnance has been found in the area surrounding the camp so it is not advisable to explore in that area.

 

 
Above: Incredible wildflowers!

Above: Machine gun ridge where the famous
110th mountain division trained during WWII.

 

   

 

 
  beginner intermediate advanced
    Black Powder Pass   Mohawk Lake   Quandary Peak  14,265'
    Lily Pad   Chihuahua Gulch   Lincoln & Bross 14,291' / 14,177'
    St. John's   Mt. Royal   Bierstadt Peak 14,060'
    Mayflower Gulch   Wheeler Lakes   Willow & Salmon Lakes
    Loveland Pass   Radical Hill Trail   Upper Crystal Lake
    Salt Lick Trail   McCullough Gulch   Gray's & Torrey's 14,278' / 14,267'
    Mesa Cortina Trail   Mt. Sniktau   Mt. Democrat 14,152'
    St. Mary's Glacier   North Ten Mile Trail   Mt. Victoria
    Sally Barber Mine   Willow Falls  

Mt. Elbert  14,433'

    Oro Grande Trail   Eaglesmere Lakes   Buffalo Mountain  12,777'
    Meadow Creek-Salt Lick   Mosquito Pass   Eccles Pass
    Shrine Mountain Trail   Webster Pass   Mt. Huron  14,003'
    Ptarmigan Trail   Ptarmigan via Wilder Gulch    
    Peaks Tr. Barton Gulch   Wheeler Lake - Park County    
    Hoosier Pass Loop   Lenawee Trail    

 

  Spruce Creek Loop   Nightmare on Baldy Mine    
    Tenderfoot Mountain Trail        
   

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Note: The Summit County Explorer website is for entertainment purposes only. SCE will not be held liable for the any accidents or injuries resulting from the activities listed on this site. Trail conditions change daily and we assume no responsibility for the safety of any individual during any of these activities. Please consult actual trail guides and maps before attempting any of the activities mentioned here.